It is time for every country and every leader to reach a consensus on a clear course towards tangible progress in global climate action, and come together at COP28 to deliver the necessary change. Our world will be watching, Ambassador Hend Al Otaiba writes.
As COP28 launches in Dubai, in one of the hottest years on record, one thing is clear: concrete action will only stem from the world coming together as one united front.
Europe — together with the rest of the developed world — is not alone in the face of climate breakdown.
In Asia, Pakistan and Bangladesh have seen unprecedented devastation this year. Heat records continue to be broken at an alarming rate and, globally, the 2015 Paris Agreement of keeping to a 1.5°C threshold above pre-industrial levels now appears harder than ever to meet.
But this is not a reality we can afford to settle for. It is one thing to observe these trends from one part of the world. It is another altogether experiencing them as one of the world’s poorest nations, which make up over half the global population but account for only 12% of global emissions.
Far greater efforts on climate accountability are necessary to turn the corner. Leaders must leverage COP28 to rally around humanity’s next big collective effort to accelerate the pace of climate action and deliver meaningful change.
Reigniting hope through action
The UAE’s COP28 core objective is to deliver concrete action that keeps 1.5°C within reach and leaves nobody behind.
It aims to coordinate a robust response to the Global Stocktake, matched with non-negotiable commitments to meet the scale and urgency of the crisis.
Over the past year, I have witnessed the COP28 presidency conduct one of the most extensive listening tours, working closely with leaders and experts around the world, including France, home to the architects of the Paris Agreement.
Sadly, one consensus was all too clear: trust has broken down and the enablers for climate action are not in place.
To rebuild it, COP28 has a clear action plan built around fixing climate finance, ensuring that both public and private capital deliver on our climate ambitions.
Coupled with this, the presidency aims to fast-track a just and orderly energy transition, focusing on people, nature, and livelihoods to reignite hope through action.
Landmark Loss and Damage fund a major COP28 milestone
This approach starts with rethinking investment. While progress has been made, not least with France endowing €1.61 billion to the Green Climate Fund earlier this year, currently this capital rarely reaches the developing world.
Clean energy investment in Africa represents only 2% of global investment and less than 10% of the $120bn (€110.6bn) in financing required every year until 2030 to boost the continent’s renewable energy development, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
On its first day, COP28 delivered a major milestone as 198 countries reached a landmark agreement on a new Loss and Damage fund designed to help vulnerable countries deal with extreme weather caused by climate change.
More than $420 million (€387.3m) was pledged immediately by several countries, including $100m (€92.2m) from the UAE. The path has been laid for the world to follow up on this commitment.
If further consensus is reached in the next two weeks, COP28 could decisively set the agenda for years to come, as it will be the first to build on results from the first Global Stocktake assessing the progress that countries have made on reaching the 1.5°C emissions-cutting objectives set in Paris in 2015.
This is especially crucial when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report tells us that temperatures will soar to more than 3°C, with catastrophic consequences unless policies and actions are urgently strengthened.
We need priorities that will resonate globally
The UAE is no stranger to these challenges. It was the first country in the region to sign and ratify the Paris Agreement in 2016, reflecting our commitment to climate change.
Working towards its objective of reaching Net Zero by 2050, initiatives such as the world’s three largest and lowest-cost solar plants, carbon capture technology, and zero-emission nuclear power, showcase my country’s dedication to leading the way in climate solutions while ensuring energy security for the world.
The Al Dhafra solar power plant, born out of a consortium which includes French partner EDF Renewables, was inaugurated two weeks ago and will supply 2GW of clean electricity to 160,000 households across the UAE.
This reinforces my country as the largest source of carbon-free electricity in the Arab world and demonstrates our drive to enable the energy transition.
Further reflecting this, on COP28’s second day the UAE announced the launch of a new $30bn (€27.6bn) climate fund focused on improving access to financing, particularly in the Global South.
However, one country’s efforts will never be enough. That is why COP28 aims to set forth a comprehensive action plan with priorities that resonate globally.
From accelerating an organised, responsible, and equitable energy transition; to developing more effective climate finance mechanisms, improving quality of life, and ensuring full inclusivity, these priorities chart a clear course towards tangible progress in global climate action.
It is time for every country and every leader to reach a consensus on this course, and come together at COP28 to deliver the necessary change. Our world will be watching.
HE Hend Al Otaiba serves as Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to France and the Principality of Monaco.
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