Admit your failures, climate summit host Al Jaber tells nations: COP 28

Governments must face up to their failures to tackle climate change at the next UN climate summit, the president of COP28 has told governments.

The meeting in November should agree to triple renewable energy by 2030, Sultan al-Jaber told leaders in Brussels.

Green groups welcomed the speech as a “kick up the backside” to governments.

The choice of oil executive Mr Al Jaber to lead the summit in Dubai, UAE had been criticised by campaigners.

In June UN Climate Executive Secretary Simon Stiell welcomed Mr Al Jaber’s “unique insights” from his experience in the oil industry.

Sultan al-Jaber is chief executive of the UAE's state oil company and president of this year's COP28
Sultan Al Jaber is chief executive of the UAE’s state oil company and president of this year’s COP28

Global leaders will meet again in November to discuss how countries make progress in tackling the causes and impacts of climate change.

Climate campaigners had criticised the United Arab Emirates, which is in the top 10 largest oil producers in the world, for choosing the head of its state oil company to be COP president.

On Thursday Mr Al Jaber met with climate ministers from countries including Brazil, China and the US in Belgium.

It came as several global heat records were broken last week and a deadly heatwave swept across southern Europe.

    “We must be brutally honest about the gaps that need to be filled, the root causes and how we got to this place here today,” Mr Al Jaber said.

    He called on countries to update the plans and targets agreed at the landmark summit in Paris in 2015 that created the Paris Agreement.

    He also stressed the need to keep global heating below 1.5°C, saying it was the summit’s “North Star”.

    The meeting in Dubai will be the first formal assessment of progress countries have made towards goals including limiting temperature rise to 1.5C.

    Campaigners had been worried that the oil executive was not committed to radically cutting fossil fuels at the speed scientists say is necessary to tackle climate change.

    On Thursday Mr Al Jabar said the “phase down” of fossil fuels was “inevitable”. But he told the Guardian newspaper that ending coal, oil and gas use can only happen when the world has enough renewable energy.

    Mr Al Jaber’s plan for COP28 includes tripling renewable energy, doubling energy efficiency, and doubling hydrogen production by 2030.

    Campaigners had also expressed concern that the UAE was dragging its feet in laying the ground for the COP28 summit.

    But on Thursday analysts at the climate group E3G said the new vision had the “right ingredients” and showed the UAE had a “clear grip over the stepping stones between now and COP28”.

    “This is a much needed kick up the backside from Sultan Al Jaber, to get counties to upgrade their climate targets by September,” a spokesperson from Christian Aid said.

    Last week Mr Al Jaber met King Charles and US President Joe Biden in London at a meeting to discuss climate finance.

    Since the start of the Industrial Revolution – when humans started burning large amounts of fossil fuels – the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen by over 50%, and is still growing.

    The world is now about 1.1C warmer than it was in the late 19th century.

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