The UN climate conference kicked off in Dubai today (November 30) with COP28 President issuing a rallying call to delegates to unite around the agenda and restore faith in multilateralism.
Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, today officially assumed the role of COP28 President in a ceremony to mark the official transfer of the role from his predecessor, Egypt’s Sameh Shoukry.
Kicking off two weeks of intense climate negotiations, Dr Al Jaber, used his first official speech as COP President to issue a rallying call to delegates to unite around the agenda and restore faith in multilateralism. “I pledge that I will run an inclusive and transparent process, one that encourages free and open discussion between all parties,” Dr. Sultan said.
He told delegates that the UAE reflects the spirit needed at this COP. “We may be a young nation – but we have big ambitions, and hold fast to principles like collaboration, optimism, true partnership, determination and commitment. These are the ingredients that make up the DNA of the UAE. And it’s these core values of trust, purpose, partnership and pragmatism that I believe must define COP28.”
"The science has spoken," the COP28 President told delegates. "It has confirmed the moment is now to find a new road, a road wide enough for all of us, free of the obstacles and detours of the past. That new road starts with a decision on the Global Stocktake (GST), a decision that is ambitious, corrects course and accelerates action to 2030."
Jaber, who is also the CEO of the UAE's national oil company ADNOC, acknowledged in a text version of his opening remarks that there were "strong views about the idea of including language on fossil fuels and renewables in the negotiated text ... I ask you to work together".
Meanwhile, the summit began on a positive note with delegates adopting a new fund to help poor nations cope with costly climate disasters.
Al Jaber said the decision sent a "positive signal of momentum to the world and to our work here in Dubai."
In establishing the fund on the first day of the two-week COP28 conference, delegates opened the door for governments to announce contributions.
In his address, Dr. Al Jaber reiterated calls to bridge the global adaptation finance gap, and urged parties to deliver on the promise of a fully operational Loss and Damage fund.
“Let’s put nature, lives, and livelihoods at the core of our national plans. Let’s finally face the issues that are critical to adaptation, like water, food, agriculture, and health,” Dr. Al Jaber said, adding that COP28 will be the first to host a climate health ministerial.
“This Presidency is committed to unlocking finance to ensure that the Global South does not have to choose between development and climate action.”
The COP28 President also noted the importance of decarbonising the existing energy system. “Let history reflect the fact that this is the Presidency that made a bold choice to proactively engage with oil and gas companies. We had many discussions. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. But now, many of these companies are committing to zeroing out methane emissions by 2030 for the first time. And many national oil companies have adopted net zero by 2050 targets for the first time.”
Dr. Al Jaber also called for consensus around a framework for the future energy system. “I know there are strong views about the idea of including language on fossil fuels and renewables in the negotiated text. We have the power to do something unprecedented. I ask you to work together,” he urged delegates. “Be flexible, find common ground, come forward with solutions, and achieve consensus. And never lose sight of our North Star of 1.5.”
COP28 officially runs until December 12. The COP28 Presidency is determined to do all it can to enable world leaders to deliver a successful decision in response to the GST, meeting the challenge of keeping 1.5 within reach with the highest levels of ambition.