“The world demands transformational Progress”: Dr. Sultan Al Jaber at 14th Petersberg Climate Dialogue

COP28 President, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber emphasized the urgent need to decarbonize the world and work towards a just energy transition during his speech at 14th Petersberg Climate Dialogue.

At the event jointly hosted by the UAE and Germany, the COP28 President emphasised the urgent need to work towards a just energy transition.

A key highlight of the upcoming COP28 Climate Change Conference will be the completion of the first Global Stock Take (GST), which will measure how far the world has progressed since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015. To achieve climate goals, it is important to accelerate progress while boosting climate finance to ensure countries have the resources they need to fight climate change.

May 4, 2023

BERLIN—Calling the fight against climate change the world’s collective responsibility, H.E. Dr. Sultan Al Jaber urged collective action from all parties to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement during his keynote speech at the 14th Petersberg Climate Dialogue (PCD) in May 2023.

The PCD is an annual event that brings together top government officials, business leaders, and civil society organisations in a forum jointly organised by the Federal Republic of Germany and the United Arab Emirates.

In Berlin, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, the COP28 President and the UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, was joined by H.E. Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, the UAE Minister of Climate Change and the Environment, and H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, United Nations Climate Change Champion for COP28 and President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Seven years passed, seven years to go

Dr. Al Jaber began his speech by explaining that fighting climate change is a collective responsibility. “This requires our honesty and our collective effort,” he said. “We can only succeed through genuine and true partnership, through real collaboration and shared purpose. This is the true foundation of real multilateralism.”

“We have just passed the seven-year mark since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, with just seven years to go to 2030. That is seven years to reduce emissions by 43 percent and keep the ambitions and objectives of the Paris Agreement alive,” stressed Dr. Al Jaber. “This is the year of the first Global Stocktake that will measure progress since Paris. The most recent IPCC report has already made it crystal clear that we are all way off-track. This is the moment of clarity we must all face with total honesty.”

“We’re already seeing the impacts from rising sea levels to failed harvests to food, water and energy insecurity. Everyone is affected, and the most vulnerable communities across the Global South – who have done the least to cause climate change – are the most affected. These are the facts. The message is clear; this cannot be denied,” he added. “Our respective responsibilities are also very clear. It is time for all of us to come to terms with some realities. In fact, it is time for all of us to get real. We have no choice but to unite and seize the moment of the Global Stocktake to put the world on the right track to meet the goals and ambitions of the very promising Paris Agreement.”

Need to accelerate cross-sectoral progress

To effectively fight climate change, it is necessary to provide countries with the necessary resources and support to adapt to climate impacts, and also to enhance climate finance, especially private finance, making it more accessible, available and affordable, the COP28 President said.

“COP28 needs to deliver an action plan that engages the public and private sector to achieve transformation and results. This will be underpinned by a robust negotiated response to the Global Stocktake. We need equally strong outcomes across all other mandates: the Mitigation Work Programme, the Global Goal on Adaptation, doubling adaptation finance, the Just Transition Work Programme, the new Collective Quantified Finance Goal, and of course, the operationalization of the Loss And Damage Fund.”

High expectations but low trust

When it comes to the progress made on the promise to mobilise $100 billion in climate finance, which was made back in 2009, there needs to be a renewed commitment to deliver, said Dr. Al Jaber, who noted doing this would require addressing trust issues around this.

“Expectations are very high and trust is very low. Developing countries are still waiting for the $100 billion promised by developed countries 14 years ago. This is holding up progress. It is vital to the political credibility of the UNFCCC process that donors step up to this long overdue obligation ahead of COP28,” he stated.

“On top of that, a robust replenishment of the Green Climate Fund this year, alongside enhanced support for the Adaptation Fund, would send a signal of true global unity and solidarity. Trust is also essential in the negotiations process. As the COP28 president, I will ensure a fair, inclusive, and transparent presidency that provides space for all parties to reach consensus across the whole agenda,” he said.

Climate finance a critical issue

In the Global South, there is a consistent critique that climate finance is either unavailable, inaccessible, or unaffordable. Therefore, the world needs to make concrete progress this year on climate finance, which requires the implementation of reforms to unlock more concessional finance, mitigate risk, and attract more private capital.

Dr. Al Jaber also highlighted that governments must fulfil their commitments and promises to vulnerable and developing countries. “The poorest nations make up over half of the world’s population. Yet they account for just 12% of global emissions and 800 million people have no access to energy at all. Behind these numbers are real people. Those people want – in fact, they deserve – a better life for themselves and for their families.”

He added: “If the world doesn’t come up with effective mechanisms to deliver climate finance to developing and emerging economies, they will have no choice but to choose a carbon-intensive development path. This is an outcome we want to avoid, simply because it is in no one’s interest.”

Instead, he said: “We will accelerate delivery in sectors like renewables that must triple capacity by 2030 and double it again by 2040. We will encourage smart government regulation to jumpstart the hydrogen value chain and make carbon capture commercially viable.”

Stressing the need for all countries to work together and reaffirm their pledges, he noted: “At COP28, I expect ambitious, transparent, and accountable commitments from all countries and businesses that will shape policies in parliaments and budgets and boardrooms.”

COP28 will be first COP to focus on Health

In his speech, Dr. Al Jaber also revealed that COP28 will be different from the preceding ones by becoming the first Conference of the Parties to have a dedicated space for the topic of health on its agenda. “COP 28 must provide tangible solutions to help people adapt to climate change and manage growing climate impacts. This is why we will be the first COP to dedicate a day to health and the first to host a health and climate ministerial,” he said.

“We need to broaden our definition of adaptation to enable global climate resilience, transform food systems, and enhance forestry, land use, and water management,” he added. “We must continue to safeguard natural carbon sinks like rainforests and mangroves, protect biodiversity, and work closely with indigenous peoples to help preserve natural ecosystems. Indigenous peoples represent five percent of the global population but protect 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity. Their voices must be heard, and their contribution to the climate challenge must be recognised.”

Youth in focus at COP28

“Our High-Level Champion, H.E. Razan Al Mubarak, will focus and give special attention to putting people and nature at the centre of climate progress. In addition, this COP will have a special focus on empowering youth. As the first officially designated youth climate champion, H.E. Shamma Al Mazrui will mobilise substantive policy and programmatic outcomes for the young people under her leadership. In collaboration with YOUNGO, we will ensure that youth, particularly from small island states and the least developed countries, participate meaningfully and effectively throughout the full COP cycle and activities. This is a feature that we hope will be incorporated in all future COPs,” said Dr. Al Jaber.

“Our International Youth Climate Delegate program is the largest initiative to date to expand youth participation from underrepresented countries in the climate process. This is not a record we want to hold. It is a record we want to see broken, and I hope it happens in future COPs,” he said.

Facing global challenges head-on

“There are moments in history when humanity comes together to fight a common threat,” said Dr. Al Jaber, noting that the current fight against climate change was one such moment. He linked this with the core principles cherished by the UAE’s astute leadership.

“We have chosen to face global challenges head-on by adopting a positive mindset and working on solutions in the pursuit of progress and prosperity with like-minded partners,” he explained. “It is this mindset that we will bring as hosts of COP28. We believe that game-changing solutions can be achieved if the collective political will is there—and I promise you it certainly is from the United Arab Emirates.”

It is important, he maintained, that the upcoming COP28 should be remembered as the event that united the whole world in taking true, cohesive action, turning policies into practical outcomes. “Let’s please put an end to delays and let’s start delivering real results. Let’s turn passion into pragmatic solutions. Let’s end polarisation and empower partnership.”

A call to unite for humanity

Concluding his speech at the 14th Petersberg Climate Dialogue, Dr. Al Jaber issued a strident summons for unity. “Advancing humanity has always been one of the core principles of the leadership of the UAE. Let’s unite in solidarity for the sake of humanity,” he told the attendees. “Let’s live up to the responsibility we have been entrusted with; let us restore political credibility to the legal agreements we have not yet fulfilled. For my part, I commit to matching your effort and your dedication every step of the way.”

Affirming that the world today demands transformational progress and requires transformational action, he said: “Let’s work together to deliver an ambitious agenda and a practical, action-oriented GST for 2030. Let’s unite our divided world for the planet, for our people, and for lasting sustainable development."