Dr. Sultan Al Jaber emphasises need to turn COP28 agreement into tangible action in closing plenary speech

“We’ve delivered world first after world first”: COP28 President Dr. Sultan Al Jaber celebrates summit success

Gathering world leaders, top business executives and powerful thinkers for 12 days of discussions and negotiations, COP28 came to a resounding close on December 12 with the adoption of the historic UAE Consensus.

Gathering world leaders, top business executives and powerful thinkers for 12 days of discussions and negotiations, COP28 came to a resounding close on December 12 with the adoption of the historic UAE Consensus.

The globally lauded UAE Consensus represents a milestone of progress in the fight against climate change, representing an agreement by representatives of 198 countries to speed up the energy transition and accelerate action this decade in a bid to keep the 1.5°C Paris Agreement goal alive.

December 14, 2023

DUBAI – On December 13, the COP28 President and the UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, delivered his closing keynote speech at the final plenary of the 28th United Nations Conference of the Parties, commonly referred to as COP28.

In his speech, he celebrated the various achievements that the current COP had attained under his Presidency, starting with the announcement of the Loss and Damage Fund on Day 1, to culminating with the broad adoption of what is being termed the 'UAE Consensus', outlining the roadmap to accelerate climate action and make tangible progress in the fight against climate change.

The UAE Consensus strongly urges countries to take decisive action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and submit comprehensive Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), with a ground-breaking commitment to triple renewable energy output and double energy efficiency by 2030.

Calling the agreement "an enhanced, balanced and historic package to accelerate climate action”, Dr. Al Jaber thanked all the COP28 delegates for all the hard work put in to outline a more robust path to usher in a better, more equitable future for everyone.

“We have set the world in the right direction”

Before COP28 got underway, there was a clear need for world leaders and the private sector to come to a consensus on what actions needed to be taken to mitigate the effects of climate change and protect the planet and its environment for future generations. Over the summit's 12 days, this consensus has broadly been reached, said the COP28 President, reaffirming that sticking to the 'North Star' of 1.5°C proved instrumental in arriving at the agreement.

“We have delivered a comprehensive response to the Global Stocktake and all the other mandates,” Dr. Al Jaber stated. ‘Together, we have confronted realities and set the world in the right direction. We have given it a robust action plan to keep 1.5[°C] within reach. It is a plan led by the science, a balanced plan that tackles emissions, bridges the gap on adaptation, reimagines global finance, and delivers on loss and damage. It is built on common ground. It is strengthened by inclusivity. And it is reinforced by collaboration.”

COP28 brought everyone together

From its outset, the 28th UN Climate Change Conference was built on the principle of inclusion, with the COP28 Presidency stressing the need for every voice – from youth to indigenous peoples, civil society to leaders of various faiths – to be heard.

“Everyone united, acted and delivered. We operationalised Loss and Damage – and started to fill the fund,” noted Dr. Al Jaber. “We mobilised more than $85 billion in new financial commitments. We launched ALTÉRRA, the world’s largest catalytic private investor that is 100% focused on solutions to climate change. And we delivered world first after world first.”

One of the biggest achievements of COP28 was the agreement on the Loss and Damage Fund right on day one of the event. This was immediately followed by pledges from the UAE and Germany, which both committed $100 million to the fund. Meanwhile, the UK committed up to $75 million, while the US pledged $17.5 million, and Japan added another $10 million.

Dr. Al Jaber went on to outline the various other significant milestones achieved during the summit, which was held at Expo City in Dubai. “A global goal to triple renewables and double energy efficiency; declarations on agriculture, food and health; many more oil and gas companies stepping up for the first time on methane and emissions – all of these are world firsts,” he said. “All of these are crucial actions that will help shape a better, cleaner world with greater, more equitable prosperity.”

He also referred to the fact that this summit was the first COP to host a change-makers Majlis, which he called a turning point. Dr. Al Jaber outlined how that initiative at COP28 spearheaded more honest conversations and discussions between parties and delegates, rekindling a spirit of collaboration.

“That made the difference,” he said. “Now, we can truly say that we united, we acted, and we delivered.”

“We are what we do”

While celebrating the success of the summit, Dr. Al Jaber also sounded a note of caution, stressing that just having an agreement was not enough – implementation is and will be key.
“An agreement is only as good as its implementation. We are what we do, not what we say. We must take the steps necessary to turn this agreement into tangible action. If we unite in action, we can have a profoundly positive effect on all our futures,” he elaborated.

Reflecting that the conference was built on inclusivity, he commended the fact that all delegates followed the outlined process with transparency, dedication and a willingness to listen.

“As a result, we have delivered a paradigm shift that has the potential to redefine our economies.
We have reframed the conversation around climate finance. We have integrated the real economy into climate action. And we have moved to a new mindset, where solutions to the climate challenge become the drivers of a new economic age,” said Dr. Al Jaber.

“I hope we made you proud”

Dr. Al Jaber concluded his speech with his heartfelt thanks to the UAE’s leadership as well as to everyone who attended the COP28 summit and made it the grand success it is today, showing the world the power of collective action.

“Allow me to take this opportunity to express my deepest respect and gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates. I am deeply grateful for his confidence, guidance and constant support. I hope we made you proud,” Dr. Al Jaber stated.

He continued: “It has been a personal privilege for me to have the opportunity to guide this conference. I am humbled by the commitment I have seen and the unwavering efforts I have witnessed. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all who made this happen. You have come in record numbers, you care deeply about the future of this wonderful planet… and so do I.”

He also conveyed his earnest gratitude to all of his team members who had tirelessly worked to make the historic summit a memorable one, as well as his family members who have stood by and supported him on his journey as COP28 President.

“Our work goes on”

Throughout COP28, the UAE took on a leadership role in showing the way forward for other countries, both from the Global North and the Global South, to spearhead action against climate change while working to usher in a better future for everyone.

“Our country has shown that we can deliver on the global stage for the benefit of the planet and its people. We have helped restore faith and trust in multilateralism. And we have shown that humanity can come together to help humanity,” he emphasised. “Our task was to build on the foundations that others have laid for us. What we have built together will stand the test of time. Future generations may not know your names, but they will owe every single one of you a debt of gratitude.”

Now that the conference has come to a close, Dr. Al Jaber invited all parties to continue to work together, to keep the ambition, enthusiasm, and dedication going to convert agreements into tangible action.

“We leave Dubai with our heads held high. And our work goes on. In unity and solidarity, we will walk the new path that the UAE Consensus has set for the world. Together, we will follow our North Star,” he said, adding: “We will follow it from here to Baku and from Baku to Belém.”

Dr. Al Jaber was referring to the host cities for the two upcoming COPs – Baku in Azerbaijan, which will host COP29, and Belém, the capital of Pará state in Brazil, which will host COP30.

“Together, we will secure the future of this beautiful planet for the many generations to come,” he said in the conclusion to his plenary closing address at COP28. “I hope that the spirit of partnership, inclusivity and peace that has welcomed you here in the UAE goes with you from this place, and lives on for the good of all humanity."