COP28: Lead the charge against climate change
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COP28: Lead the charge against climate change

COP28: Lead the charge against climate change

It is estimated that COP28 will have participation from more than 80,000 delegates, including 140 heads of state and government

Rana Abu Nemeh shares her insight on COP28

The UAE strives to remain the GCC’s most proactive nation on climate action. It was first in the region to set a 2050 net zero goal at COP26 in Glasgow in 2021, and it became the first to announce absolute emission cuts, instead of from a hypothetical business-as-usual baseline.

With the recent COP27 in Egypt having produced rather underwhelming outcomes, hopes and expectations for COP28 later this year are even higher, as is the need for results. If you look at the scorecard from Egypt, there was no material progress on closing the ‘ambition gap’ and keeping a rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C.

There have been no notable developments since Glasgow’s COP26 reduction on dependence on fossil fuels and emissions this decade. In this regard, the world’s major emitters made no significant new commitments on climate mitigation. Some countries pushed for the final COP27 agreement to reference ‘peaking emissions in 2025’ but this did not make it to the final text.

Commenting on this lack of progress, Alok Sharma, former COP26 president, passionately expressed his dissatisfaction when he stated: “Emissions peaking before 2025, as the science tells us, is necessary. Not in this text.”

Nor was there any progress on gender, with this topic largely absent from the negotiations. This issue was highlighted by some commentators who noted that only seven out of the 110 world leaders at COP27 were female.

What did come out of COP27 – though not yet in any firm consensus or tangible action plan – was a growing call for the developed world to pay its share, almost in the form of reparations, to cover the costs faced by the developing world which is more at risk from the impacts of climate change. This is obviously a very contentious issue, and it could well be the dominant theme in the UAE this year.

Taking the lead

The UAE is taking its role as host of the next UN climate talks seriously with over 1,000 delegates registered to attend COP 27 – the second largest in the history of climate summits. It is estimated that COP28 will have participation from more than 80,000 delegates, including 140 heads of state and government, with coverage from more than 5,000 media professionals.

There can be no better location than Expo City Dubai to host COP28 with the site built and operated (and audited) according to the most sustainable modern principles.

On a wider basis, the UAE can point to significant actions, investments and progress in its own approach to climate change management and mitigation with a number of initiatives standing out:

  • Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate – a proposal put forth by the UAE and the US at COP 26. The objective of this proposal was to create huge investments in climate-smart agriculture and food systems over the next five years. The agriculture sector employs around 5 billion people globally and the UAE has pledged an extra $1bn for this project.
  • The UAE is one of the countries with the lowest methane emissions and as a part of this, has joined the Global Methane Pledge. Hydrocarbon industries in the UAE have the world’s lowest methane intensities at 0.01 per cent. The country also aims to reduce methane emissions by 30 per cent by the end of 2023.
  • By the end of the decade, the UAE aims to plant 100 million new mangrove trees as part of its Nationally Determined Contribution. This was adopted from the Paris Agreement.
  • The UAE government is also taking massive steps to maximise sources of renewable energy at home. The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum facility in Dubai is the world’s biggest single site solar park, contributing to DEWA’s goal of moving renewable power from 7 per cent of the power mix in 2020 to 25 per cent by 2030, and 75 per cent by 2050. In Abu Dhabi, the new Shams 1 development in Abu Dhabi will be the world’s largest carbon sequestration project site.

Add in major initiatives such as the Barrakah nuclear plant in Abu Dhabi; the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure’s blueprint Hydrogen Leadership Roadmap, that contains comprehensive steps to establish the country as a leading exporter of hydrogen; and ADNOC’s development of large scale carbon capture facilities (CCUS) and it’s clear that the UAE is walking-the-walk in this sphere, which is vital for its credibility as the conference host.

The recent appointment of Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, UAE Climate Change Special Envoy, ADNOC MD and group CEO, Masdar’s founding CEO and now chairman, as COP28 President-Designate also sends a very clear message that progress requires the likes of ADNOC to be front and centre and driving the solutions.

It’s also worth remembering that whilst the UAE has much to gain from the kudos and profile of hosting COP28 this year, it also faces immense pressure. Whilst the 1.5C rise is a global average target, the impact in this region could be as high as 4C which would render much of the Middle East unliveable, and make the UAE’s motivations for a successful COP28 incredibly important, to the point of being existential.

The writer is the project manager – Investment, for OCO Global Middle East. 

Read: COP28 UAE: Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber named President-Designate

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