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ROAD TO COP28: UAE's Al Jaber urges governments to step up climate action


Phase-down of fossil fuels is inevitable and essential

Renewable energy output needs to triple to 11,000 GW

Global stocktake, setting up ambitious NDCs will be key at COP28

  • Author
  • Eklavya Gupte
  • Editor
  • Jonathan Loades-Carter
  • Commodity
  • Electric Power Energy Transition Metals
  • Topic
  • Road to COP28 Energy Transition Environment and Sustainability

The head of the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai called on governments to fast-track their climate goals ahead of the key event, and admitted that the phase-down of fossils fuels was inevitable and essential.

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In a July 13 statement, the UAE'S Sultan al-Jaber urged governments to update their 2030 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) targets by September 2023, far ahead of the 2025 deadline to accelerate global climate action.

Jaber, who is also at the helm of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., is in Brussels to meet key climate ministers and EU officials a few months ahead of COP28, which will take place in Dubai from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12.

This comes as the UAE sets a stricter 2030 emissions reduction target aiming for a 40% cut compared to the business-as-usual scenario. The oil producer aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 19% from 2019 levels by the end of the decade as it seeks to boost renewable power's contribution to the energy mix and become a top producer of low-carbon hydrogen.

As part of the third update to its Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Climate Agreement, the UAE is now targeting a reduction in its emissions to 182 million mtCO2e by 2030.

Taking stock

Finalizing the world's first global stocktake of climate actions and setting up more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions are key priorities at COP28.

The global stocktake, which itemizes what countries and stakeholders are doing or failing to do to meet their Paris Agreement commitments, is considered to be the centerpiece in global climate efforts.

"The global stocktake will be moment of truth," said analysts from S&P Global Commodity Insights in a recent note. "[The stocktake] is expected to respond to the urgency of climate action and help identify a clear roadmap to deliver the fundamental changes needed over the next decade to put global emissions trajectories on track, as well as to tackle existing and future impacts of climate change and highlight potential opportunities, challenges and resources."

Fossil fuel phase-down

The phasing out of unabated fossil fuels is likely to be one of the most contentious issues that will be discussed in Dubai.

Jaber conceded that the phase-down of fossil fuels is necessary but said the renewable energy sector had to grow at a much faster pace.

He urged the world to accelerate the "inevitable" and "essential" phase-down of fossil fuels.

Jaber called for the tripling of renewable energy output to 11,000 GW, the doubling of energy efficiency measures, and the doubling of hydrogen production to 180 million mt/year by 2030.

He also urged international and national oil companies to zero out methane emissions by 2030.

On July 11, the EU's climate chief Frans Timmermans said the bloc will push countries to sign a global pledge calling for the "phase-out of unabated fossil fuels well ahead of 2050."

In April, G7 leaders meeting in Japan signed up to achieve collective capacity of 150 GW of offshore wind and 1 TW of solar by 2030, while expressing concern at current deployment rates.

Jaber, who also holds the roles of the UAE's industry and advanced technology minister and the UAE's special envoy for climate change, was the country's lead negotiator at the COP27 summit in Egypt in 2022.

Many viewed the lack of progress on explicitly mentioning reducing fossil fuel use as a failure of Egypt's presidency of the UN climate at COP27, held in Sharm el-Sheikh in November.

Countries were also reluctant to strengthen NDCs -- pledges on how nations are to reach their emissions reduction targets -- because of a lack of access to finance.