World needs ‘unprecedented’ climate action, says Cop28 President

    20 Mar 2024

    Cop28 President Dr Sultan Al Jaber has called for “unprecedented” climate action to ensure the historic deal agreed during the summit has a chance to keep global temperatures from exceeding the crucial 1.5ºC threshold.

    Speaking at the International Energy Agency in Paris on Tuesday, Dr Al Jaber urged governments, business and industry to step up and keep the deal – under which countries agreed to transition away from fossil fuels – alive and not allow the momentum to slip away.

    He also cautioned of “turmoil” if the green transition was not managed correctly and stated governments needed to be honest and transparent about the costs involved.

    “The UAE Consensus set a new direction and a clear course correction,” said Dr Al Jaber, who is also UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, referring to the Cop28 deal signed by close to 200 countries.

    “We must now turn an unprecedented agreement into unprecedented action. Now is the time for all stakeholders to step up.”

    It comes as climate records continue to be broken. In February it was reported that global warming had for the first time exceeded 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels across an entire year, according to the EU’s climate service.

    January was also the world’s warmest January on record, with an average temperature of 13.14°C.

    Scientists believe major cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, chiefly caused by burning fossil fuels, are the only way to stop global temperatures from increasing and stave off the worst effects of climate change.

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    Dr Al Jaber was speaking at the “Beyond Cop28: Time to unite, act and deliver the UAE consensus” event, which was attended by ministers, ambassadors, industry executives and other leaders, including International Energy Agency executive director Fatih Birol, Cop21 President Laurent Fabius; Jennifer Morgan, Germany’s climate envoy; and John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate.

    During the event, the Cop28 President also warned that the energy transition would lead to energy turmoil if only the supply side was focused on.

    Dr Al Jaber said the green transition would need “massive investment” in grid infrastructure to deliver renewable energy, while governments needed to be “honest and transparent about the costs and trade-offs involved”.

    Mr Kerry also paid tribute to the Cop deal stating Dr Al Jaber did a “superb job” in putting Cop28 together in a situation where “one country can stand up and wreak havoc”.

    “It’s a brilliant consensus,” he said. “A really important consensus.”

    Ms Morgan praised the Cop28 team and said the world faced its “1974 moment”, referring to the date the IEA was founded during the 1973 to 1974 oil crisis.

    “This is our moment where we have to come together in a new way, collectively, to respond to the shocks that are happening to our countries from the climate crisis,” she said.

    Ms Morgan said people needed to “bottle that spirit and the determination of the UAE consensus”.

    Mr Fabius said Cop28 was a “gamechanger” and Mr Birol said it “set out very clearly, and for the first time”, the direction of travel for the global energy system.

    Scaling up climate finance, meanwhile, is seen as crucial in the fight against climate change, particularly in helping those on the front lines switch to more sustainable forms of energy.

    Cop28 mobilised $85 billion in new pledges and commitments and launched the world’s largest private investments vehicle for climate action – Alterra.

    Dr Al Jaber last year welcomed the announcement that wealthier countries reportedly hit the overdue $100 billion annual climate finance goal but said “trillions” will be needed.

    Cop28 also tried to get the oil and gas industry to step up, with 40 per cent of global oil production committing to zero methane emissions by 2030 and net zero by or before 2050.

    While describing these targets as “a good start, Dr Al Jaber said “it must be built on. I will continue to push for more”.

    Dr Al Jaber’s comments came just days after the Cop28 presidency launched a major partnership with the next two hosts of the climate conference, Azerbaijan and Brazil, to help keep the crucial 1.5ºC climate goal within reach.

    The “Cop presidencies troika” aims to boost co-operation and ensure continuity between the hosts of the annual climate talks in what is being called “mission 1.5ºC”.

    “Cop28 created a moment of hope in challenging times,” said Dr Al Jaber. “Let’s not waste it. Let’s harness this positive energy to drive breakthrough progress”.


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