UAE calls for inclusive approach focusing on opportunities for economic growth

The United Arab Emirates has called for an inclusive approach to unlock the economic opportunity in climate action and said it will support progress towards practical, commercial and scalable solutions when hosting the COP28 in 2023.

Addressing a panel discussion by Atlantic Council at COP26 (the 26th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),
His Excellency Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate, said an umbrella approach that brings together all the elements is needed for success in reducing the impact of climate change.

“We have adopted an inclusive approach to growth and progress, which contributed to many significant achievements over the past 50 years. We will continue to follow this approach in line with the principles of the Fifty-Year Charter, which prioritises sustainable economic and social growth. Sustainable investments must first be sustainable financially.”

Dr. Al Jaber was speaking alongside the United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, H.E. Ambassador Raychelle Omamo, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Kenya, and Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Addressing the audience, John Kerry said: “First of all, let me thank the UAE and Dr Sultan Al Jaber; he has just been a spectacular envoy and partner with us over these past months. The UAE hosted the very first Middle East climate dialogue, which involved four or five oil and gas producers, all of whom came on board for Net Zero, all of whom have been really committed to COP and the process of responsible activity in all sectors and I thank them for that, and I wish them happy UAE Flag Day.”

Commenting on the launch of the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate, Bill Gates added: “Thanks to leadership of UAE and United States for kicking this off… we have about 30 countries now signed up for the initiative where you make a commitment to raise your research and development for better agriculture, both seeds and livestock, digital mapping to help the farmers and digital advice.”

Commenting on the need for inclusive approach to climate action, H.E. Raychelle Omamo said: “COP 26 must remember the African woman, because the African woman is the way forward on our continent… she’s the farmer, she’s the person that deals with our SMEs, she drives our economies. So whatever applications that we use or innovations that we begin to develop, we must develop them with the view of building inclusive society, societies that are prosperous for everyone.”

The need for an inclusive approach

Addressing the panel, Dr. Al Jaber reiterated that the UAE’s inclusive approach was important to take “innovation to scale, from capital to R&D, technology development and project delivery. Inclusivity means all sectors – governmental, private, academic and civil society – working together. This must include countries with major hydrocarbon resources. They have huge energy experience and an essential role to play. The world needs to be open, not closed; it needs answers, not justifications.”

Dr. Al Jaber said the UAE moved early into renewables. “We began our investments in renewable energy 15 years ago. We focused on science and innovation, providing the space and the capital to turn ideas into world-class projects. Today, we have renewable investments worth $17 billion across 70 countries. We will grow our renewables position and we already have plans to increase the renewable energy capacity four-fold to about 9 gigawatts by the end of 2025.”

Highest ambitions for COP28

Commenting on the UAE’s offer to host COP28 in 2023, which was endorsed by the Asia Pacific Group of nations, Dr. Al Jaber said the UAE had set its ambitions high, adding the nation would approach dialogue and discussions with the same progressive drive – focusing on achievement and progress – that enabled the UAE to mark significant achievements over its 50-year-history.

“We would push towards practical solutions that the world needs: real solutions that are both commercial and scalable. We would also bring fresh perspectives because we understand that progress and development remain essential in parallel with global efforts to reduce the effects of climate change.

“We seek to make COP28 both flexible, compatible with the requirements of both developed and developing countries and inclusive, recognising there are various paths towards net-zero emissions. It is about getting to the destination on time not about the route to get there,” His Excellency added.

On this year’s UN Climate Conference, Dr. Al Jaber said there is “good progress and a great sense of hope. I would like to see COP26 propose practical plans and solutions and avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. Certainly, developing nations require a completely different set of policies and incentives. Climate action should not become an economic burden on developing nations. Our focus must be on holding back emissions, not slowing growth and progress.

“It would be fruitful for developed nations to meet the US$100 billion pledge on climate finance. The successful delivery of Article Six to set up functioning global carbon markets would be another strong indicator of the success of COP26. If COP26 can achieve all of this, then it will have been a big success. A successful COP26 will also create momentum for COP27, COP28 and beyond.”

If UAE is affirmed as the COP28 host in 2023, Dr. Al Jaber said he would work closely with the UK, Egypt and the UNFCCC to push for practical solutions that are both commercial and scalable.

“The UAE has deep practical experience in energy, climate action and renewables, and we have a strong track record of mobilising support to address common challenges,” he added.

“The COP process is critical to the world, and each COP must build on those that have come before. COP28 is also the year of the global stocktake and this presents its own opportunity to assess where the world is and to further accelerate climate action.”

UAE focuses on collaboration and partnership

Dr. Al Jaber said collaboration and partnership underline the UAE’s recent climate initiatives. For instance, the new Energy Transition Accelerator Financing (ETAF) Platform, a US$1billion US-funded facility, launched in conjunction with the Abu Dhabi-headquartered International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), is designed to finance 1.5 GW of new renewable energy power projects in developing countries by 2030

The Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) is a major joint initiative by the UAE and US with the support of more than 30 other countries. The goal is to accelerate innovation in climate-smart agriculture and food systems over the next five years.

“Investing in innovation and advanced technological solutions in agriculture such as heat resistant crops, vertical farming and digital agriculture, will help enhance resilience in parts of the world that are most vulnerable to climate change,” said Dr. Al Jaber.

As an early mover in renewables, the UAE has the world’s largest solar park and a burgeoning peaceful nuclear power sector. The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is set to provide up to a quarter of the nation’s electricity needs when it becomes fully operational, avoiding up to 21 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

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