COP28 will allow the UAE to make its mark on global climate change negotiations.
The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28), will be the third COP in the Middle East, after being hosted by Egypt last year and Qatar in 2012. This year will be an even number for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). , will be held from November 30th to December. 12. That’s a big deal. Dubai is expected to attract 70,000 visitors from around 200 countries, including government officials, diplomats, financial institutions, scientists, businesses and other professionals.
The Middle East is on the front lines of global warming. Countries such as Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait are some of the hottest in the world and could soon become uninhabitable. In September, Libya lost more than 11,000 people in devastating floods, while most of the country faces wildfires, drought and water shortages. In this part of the world, climate change is a daily concern and an urgent threat to the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
However, the Middle East is not at the forefront of environmental solutions and green investments. For some countries, such as Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, and to some extent Egypt and Tunisia, it is not a priority. They are fully prepared for war, economic crisis, or both. With increased political stability and financial strength, the Gulf monarchies are taking the lead in the region on climate change issues. All Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries except Qatar have set net-zero targets by 2050 or 2060 and are investing heavily in domestic and global renewable energy. Interestingly, it was mostly done independently of global donors. The authorities are primarily funding the project itself thanks to hydrocarbon revenues, giving it the flexibility to do things its own way rather than adapting Western-made recipes.
Al Salihi, New Mexico: The United Arab Emirates can play an important role in bringing the voices of the Global South to the table.
In 2017, the UAE became the first Arab country to announce a national climate strategy. The Emirates now wants COP28 to be remembered by the world as a conference that took a unique, bold and pragmatic approach to climate change. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the event’s President-designate and the UAE’s special envoy for climate change, spoke during the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Climate Week, a United Nations-sponsored conference held in Riyadh in early October. This was announced at the opening session. “We must distinguish between fact and fiction, reality and fantasy, influence and ideology.”
Let’s take a look at how the UAE tackles the key issues of concern.
Who pays for what?
The first assessment of the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels reaches a milestone this year. It is clear that the results will fall short of the target, but the question is what to do about it. The UAE said it had no intention of singling out and shaming less developed countries, but called on countries to submit new nationally determined contributions.
Climate finance will be at the center of discussions throughout the conference, but the dilemma will always be the same. How can we get rich countries to help poor countries facing the harsh consequences of global warming? That responsibility does not lie within one’s own country. First place?
“Although it has not suffered as much financially and economically as other countries, the UAE can play an important role in bringing the voices of the Global South to the table,” said Aisha Al, a research fellow at the Middle East Institute. Salihi says. He is a Chatham House Associate Fellow at the National University of Singapore (NUS), a non-resident fellow at the Middle East Council on World Affairs and the Arab and Gulf States Institute in Washington.
Back in 2007, governments had agreed to set up a $100 billion adaptation fund by 2020, but they fell short of that goal by $17 billion. Another funding mechanism that has received attention is the “loss and damage” fund. It was created at COP27 to compensate developing countries for the effects of climate change, but it is still an empty shell. But this year’s conference should help decide who will run it, where it will be located, who will fund it, what type of fund it will be, and who can ask for help.
Financial and trading systems will be addressed more specifically on the fifth day of the conference, with conversations on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund scheduled. Establish a regional climate change agency. and the role of banks, sovereign wealth funds and the private sector in financing green initiatives.
Energy transitions will be the second elephant in the room, after money. And Dubai is not neutral on this issue. The UAE examines greenhouse gas emissions through the eyes of fossil fuel producers. No one better embodies this contradiction than Sultan Al Jaber, the event’s designated president. He is the UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc). His appointment sparked international outrage from day one.
“It’s like having the CEO of a major tobacco company hosting a cancer conference,” Bill McGuire, a professor of geosciences at University College London, wrote in the Guardian. Other commentators used the image of an arms dealer leading peace negotiations.
The UAE expected that. They have seen criticism from the West over Qatar hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and are prepared to take some flak. Still, one thing is certain: Although GCC countries are committed to carbon neutrality targets, they have no intention of slowing down fossil fuel production. On the contrary, they are increasing. Adnoc invested $150 billion last year to increase the emirate’s oil production to 5 million barrels per day by 2027, earlier than the previous target of 2030. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have announced similar plans, and Qatar announced it would increase liquefied natural gas production by 60% by 2027. Nongovernmental organizations have criticized this as hypocrisy. The UAE calls it pragmatic.
“We cannot pull the plug on today’s energy system before building tomorrow’s new system. It is simply not practical and impossible,” Sultan Al Jaber said at MENA Climate Week.
The UAE wants oil majors to come to the energy transition table to make its case.
“While the energy industry has long complained of not being invited to negotiations, the UAE is keen to change this situation as the oil sector has expertise that can be transferred to create solutions for the transition. “We are working on it,” Al Salihi said. .
Solutions include using carbon capture technology to make oil and gas extraction cleaner and preventing methane leaks. Although this has been met with much distrust, if an agreement is reached, it could be a breakthrough in energy transition negotiations.
In parallel, the UAE, which is home to three of the region’s largest solar power plants, will drive greater investment in green energy. One of the goals of COP28 is to triple global renewable energy production to 11 terawatts and double hydrogen production to 180 million tonnes (198 million US tonnes) per year by 2030. It is about reaching an agreement.
How to change clothes at home
The GCC is some of the most polluted countries in terms of per capita carbon dioxide emissions due to air conditioning, oil and gas production and refining, and extensive use of imported products. For the UAE, hosting COP28 could be an opportunity to think about the impact that the fight against global warming will have on the country.
“Events like this have a ripple effect. When you visit the UAE or the GCC these days, people talk about climate change. Although awareness is growing, climate change is still not an issue of climate adaptation, but rather an issue of energy transition. “It is recognized as a problem. There are still gaps in our understanding of climate change and what individuals can do about it,” Al Salihi said.
Because COP28 will be held in one of the world’s hottest regions, questions such as how to incorporate natural cooling systems into architecture and how to reduce heatwaves by increasing green space in cities are chronically overlooked and underfunded. It also provides an opportunity to consider simple solutions to shortages. How preserving mangroves can prevent erosion.