The president of Cop28 stated that a deal to maintain hopes of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius is attainable.
The president-designate of the UN Cop28 climate summit stated that an “unprecedented outcome” is achievable, which would maintain the possibility of limiting global temperature increases to 1.5C. There is also anticipation that even Saudi Arabia will make positive commitments.
Important strides have been achieved in the past few weeks regarding essential components of an agreement at the critical conference commencing in Dubai this week. Countries have reached a consensus on a plan for a fund to aid the most susceptible, and have also met a significant target in terms of climate finance.
Sultan Al Jaber, representing the host country of Cop28, the United Arab Emirates, stated in a recent interview with the Guardian that the ongoing progress could result in a strong plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in accordance with scientific recommendations.
“I must remain cautiously optimistic,” he stated. “However, I currently have the necessary tools and momentum to achieve the unprecedented result that we all desire.”
He stated, “My sole objective is to regain momentum and secure global recognition of a comprehensive plan for reaching the goal of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5C (2.7F) above pre-industrial levels by 2030.”
Notable figures such as King Charles III, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and the Pope will be present for the initial days of the two-week discussions starting on Thursday. Representatives from the US (Joe Biden) and China (Xi Jinping) will not be in attendance, but will send delegates of high stature.
Over 70,000 representatives are anticipated to attend, and officials and leaders from 198 nations will attempt to reach a consensus on how to promptly decrease greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit global temperature increases to 1.5C above levels before industrialization. This goal is quickly becoming unattainable as temperatures rise and carbon emissions persist to escalate.
Al Jaber holds the position of chief executive at Adnoc, the national oil company of the UAE. Some critics argue that this creates a conflict of interests, but Al Jaber maintains that it will allow him to foster relationships with companies and oil producers, such as Saudi Arabia, a key ally of the UAE and the world’s second largest oil producer after the US.
For a while now, Saudi Arabia has been viewed as a hindrance in the yearly meetings of the parties (Cops) within the United Nations framework convention on climate change.
Al Jaber suggested that the country may make new promises, following meetings where the government displayed “optimism, involvement, openness to my concerns and my requests…in the pursuit of attaining the most ambitious climate action results at Cop28”.
Al Jaber stated that they have been working together with determination and enthusiasm. He also mentioned that they have been actively collaborating on all aspects related to climate.
He pointed out that there were still uncertainties surrounding how to effectively tackle the problem of fossil fuels in the concluding result of the 14-day convention.
Certain nations are advocating for a gradual elimination of fossil fuels, while others are opposing this idea. There is a suggestion of finding a middle ground by gradually decreasing the usage of coal, oil, and gas without carbon capture and storage technology, known as a “phase-down of unabated fossil fuels”.
Al Jaber stated that he is encouraging and enticing all involved parties to work together in a cooperative way to explore and evaluate the possibility of incorporating fossil fuels into the negotiated agreement. This should aim to find common ground and reach a consensus while still staying within the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Activists have also raised concerns about the participation of fossil fuel corporations and lobbyists in the negotiations, and leaked papers reveal that the UAE intended to utilize Cop28 as a platform to advance their oil agreements. Al Jaber defended the presence of the fossil fuel sector, stating that their representation was necessary.
According to a recent report from the International Energy Agency, all industries must play a role in solving the climate crisis. It is crucial for everyone to take responsibility and be held accountable for their actions in order for meaningful progress to be made. This includes incorporating heavy-polluting industries and the oil and gas sector in the transition towards cleaner energy.
In the past month, a resolution was achieved between wealthy and impoverished nations regarding the establishment of a new fund for addressing loss and damage caused by climate disasters in low-income and at-risk countries. However, the fund has not yet been funded, and it is anticipated that both developed countries and developing economies like China and oil-producing nations will contribute.
Al Jaber expressed optimism about the advancement of this initiative, stating, “We will allow the involved parties to determine when they are ready to make commitments.”
Al Jaber expressed feeling energized, but acknowledged that despite the positive momentum and solid progress, there are still doubts about whether he can drive things forward.
He encouraged nations to avoid delaying the agreement until the last minute, a tactic that was criticized by developing countries at Cop27 in Egypt last year and caused widespread frustration. “I hope parties will not wait until the last minute to reveal their plans,” he stated. “The sooner they communicate and work together, the more progress can be made.”
The Guardian has requested a statement from the Saudi Arabian government.