Failure is not an option warns COP28 president

The president of the upcoming COP28 has said the world has to deliver on its promises and collaborate to implement real solutions in the drive towards net zero.

Dr Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, (above) The UAE’s minister of Industry and Advanced Technology  was speaking to ministers and delegations from around the world at the opening session of Pre-COP, declaring that the international community needs to unite on climate action and that “we have to come through. We must unite. We must act. And we must deliver in Dubai.”

The Pre-COP, event began yesterday and concludes today in Abu Dhabi, and is a preparatory meeting of ministers and negotiators ahead of COP28. This year’s event has seen record attendance, with 70 ministers and over 100 delegations coming together in the UAE capital, more than double the normal number of participants for a Pre-COP.

Acknowledging that “there are too many things out there dividing our world at this moment,” Al Jaber added: “Now more than ever we need to unite on climate and deliver a clear message of hope, solidary, stability and prosperity. We need to show that the international community can deliver and send a clear signal that keeps 1.5 within reach.”

He highlighted that prior to the Paris Agreement, the world was heading for more than four degrees of warming but is now on course for warming of two to three degrees, according to the latest reports, “We are heading in the right direction, but nowhere near fast enough,” he warned.

Parties “must do better” in formulating agreements on issues than they had done at previous conferences, Al Jaber continued. “We have no time to waste on disunity,” he warned. “We must look beyond short-term thinking; we must end the excuses and delays and redefine our self-interest as a common interest.

“Let this process prove that multilateralism still works. I believe we can fulfil our responsibility. I know that we must.”

He said that was now a real opportunity and a need to get the planet back on track, to deliver the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. He highlighted key areas of focus including a strong mitigation outcome, a comprehensive adaptation agreement, and “groundbreaking solutions” on finance. “That includes delivering on the fund and funding arrangements for loss and damage,” he added. “What was promised in Sharm el Sheikh must be delivered in Dubai.”

“We need solid solutions for a 43 percent cut in emissions by 2030 because that is exactly what the science tells us,” Al Jaber continued. On the issue of fossil fuels, he explained: “I know there are strong views about the idea of including language on fossil fuels and renewables in the negotiated text. I need you to work together to come forward with solutions that can achieve alignment, common ground and consensus between all parties. We must be responsible. We must be pragmatic. And we must leave no-one behind.”

He revealed energy companies were increasingly signing up to the pledge to tackle emissions.

“More than 20 oil and gas companies have answered COP28’s call to end methane emissions by 2030,” he said. “And I see positive momentum as more are joining. And we are engaging with all high-emitting sectors, like heavy transportation, aluminium, steel and cement, to lay out credible decarbonisation plans.”

Al Jaber warned the world needed to live up to its past pledges.

“Old promises must be kept, like the 100-billion-dollar pledge. I am grateful for the work of Germany and Canada on this and their reassurances that things are now on track. But, as I stand here now, I still cannot say with certainty that has been delivered,” he told delegates.

“We must end deforestation and preserve natural carbon sinks… it is time for every nation to embed nature-positive investments in national climate strategies.”