The president of Cop28 urges for compromise during final meetings: “Let’s come up with solutions.”
The president of the UN climate summit has urged ministers and negotiators to attend Cop28’s crucial concluding meetings without preconceived statements or inflexible demands, and to be open to finding compromises.
Sultan Al Jaber, whose role is crucial in the ongoing negotiations as they reach their last days, hosted a majlis on Sunday with representatives from all nations. This gathering followed the traditional format of an elders’ conference in the United Arab Emirates.
The discussions on climate change have come to a standstill as there is disagreement on whether to gradually eliminate or reduce the use of fossil fuels. There is only a day and a half of official negotiation time remaining before the two-week-long summit is set to end on Tuesday morning.
“I urge all attendees to come prepared with potential solutions,” stated Al Jaber, who has received backlash for his additional position as leader of the UAE national oil company, Adnoc. “I hope for everyone to approach the meeting with a willingness to be adaptable and open to compromise. I specifically advised against bringing prepared statements or preconceived stances. My goal is for everyone to prioritize the greater good over personal interests.”
However, there is a glimmer of hope arising from the conversations. Catherine Abreu, the head of Destination Zero, expressed, “In my eight years of attending climate negotiations, I have never felt as though we were truly discussing what truly counts. To hear ministers from various countries speak candidly about the urgency of transitioning away from fossil fuels is something I couldn’t have imagined happening in this process even just two years ago.”
“After the Majlis dialogue at Cop28, it is evident that there is a strong agreement that the reduction of fossil fuels and promotion of renewable energy is crucial in fulfilling the goals of the Paris Agreement and maintaining the possibility of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. It is also apparent that the challenge ahead is significant and will demand bravery and determination. Developed nations must offer financial and technological aid to make this transition possible, and fairness dictates that those with greater responsibility take the lead.”
The main issue at hand is the uncertain fate of fossil fuels, although there are other concerns as well. Developing nations are frustrated by the lack of response from wealthy nations regarding their requests for assistance in dealing with the consequences of the climate emergency. Adaptation finance pertains to the funding required to enhance the infrastructure of impoverished countries, such as establishing early warning systems for storms and other severe weather events, constructing sturdier bridges that can withstand floods, or aiding in the growth of mangrove swamps to safeguard coastal areas.
The talks must produce a “balanced package” that includes stronger guarantees for adaptation funding. Developing countries have been pushing for a doubling of available finances, but the current proposal falls short.
Harjeet Singh, the leader of the global political strategy team at the Climate Action Network, a coalition of nearly 2,000 organizations focused on climate issues, expressed reservations about the initial draft of the adaptation section. He argued that while the need for increased funding is acknowledged and developed countries are urged to double their contributions from 2019 levels by 2025, the text fails to convey a sense of urgency or reference the latest UN report on the adaptation gap. According to the report, an annual amount of $194-366 billion is necessary for adequate adaptation efforts. Singh also expressed concerns about potential delays in setting specific and measurable targets for global adaptation, which is crucial for the success of the summit.
Al Jaber provided reassurance to developing countries that their opinions are being acknowledged. He stated, “We will not overlook any concerns and we will not diminish or underestimate the perspectives or unique situations of any region or country.”
The Guardian has been informed that Al Jaber met with various groups of developing countries on Sunday, such as the Alliance of Small Island States, who are advocating for a clear plan to eliminate the use of fossil fuels. The Basic countries, least developed countries, and other groups were also present at these meetings.
The option of completely eliminating the use of fossil fuels is being debated, but is facing strong opposition from Saudi Arabia and other countries that produce oil. However, China now seems to be open to finding a middle ground instead of blocking the commitment entirely.
Prior to the negotiations, Al Jaber stated that he was working closely with Saudi Arabia, a neighboring country and strong regional ally of the UAE, in an effort to reach an agreement. He further communicated that the country was actively participating in a positive and constructive manner.
During the last stages, nations are depending on Al Jaber to facilitate a “well-rounded agreement” that tackles the use of fossil fuels, maintains the crucial objective of capping global warming at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, and fulfills the financial requirements of developing countries.
He urged all nations to increase their efforts. “We have a special chance to achieve a result that is guided by science and supported by science, allowing us to stay within the 1.5C limit. This will also aid in transforming economies for future generations,” he stated.
He stated: “I refuse to fail, make no progress, or compromise my ambition. Our goal is for the greater good.”
Diego Pacheco, chief spokesperson for the Like-Minded Group of Developing Countries that includes China and India alongside oil producers such as Saudi Arabia, Bolivia and Syria, said that for any agreement to be reached on a fossil fuel phase-out or phase-down, developed countries would need to take the lead in providing financial assistance to the poor.
Mary Robinson, the leader of The Elders advocacy organization and a former Irish president, called for all nations to demonstrate real leadership as Cop28 entered its crucial last days. “Those participating in the negotiations at Cop28 are shaping the direction of our collective future [but] according to science, we are facing a serious risk of leaving our children with an uninhabitable world,” stated Robinson.
Countries that are hindering progress are the ones with the most vested interest in fossil fuels and also have abundant resources to take action. Saudi Arabia and its allies are delaying negotiations, but they are not the only ones impeding progress. The USA, China, the EU and India have also been content to remain in the background.