Hosts Want UN Climate Talks to Deliver 06/03 07:56
A senior United Arab Emirates official says the Gulf nation wants the U.N.
climate summit it's hosting later this year to deliver "game-changing results"
for international efforts to curb global warming, but doing so will require
having the fossil fuel industry at the table.
BERLIN (AP) -- A senior United Arab Emirates official says the Gulf nation
wants the U.N. climate summit it's hosting later this year to deliver
"game-changing results" for international efforts to curb global warming, but
doing so will require having the fossil fuel industry at the table.
Environmental campaigners have slammed the presence of oil and gas lobbyists
at previous rounds of talks, warning that their interests are opposed to the
goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions -- caused to a large degree by the
burning of fossil fuels. Last month scores of U.S. and European lawmakers
called for the summit's designated chair, Sultan al-Jaber, to be replaced over
his links to the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.
The issue complicates already-delicate negotiations ahead of the Nov. 30 -
Dec. 12 meeting in Dubai, known as COP28. Preliminary talks starting next week
in Bonn, Germany, will show whether the incoming UAE presidency can overcome
skepticism among parties and civil society groups about its ability to shepherd
almost 200 nations toward a landmark deal.
"Our leadership have been very clear to me and our team and our president
that they don't want just another COP that's incremental," said Majid
al-Suwaidi, who as director-general of the summit plays a key role in the
diplomatic negotiations. "They want a COP that is going to deliver real, big,
game-changing results because they see, just like all of us, that we're not on
track to achieve the goals of Paris."
Governments agreed eight years ago in the French capital to limit global
warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) -- ideally no more than 1.5C
(2.7F). With average global temperatures already about 1.2C (2.2F) above
pre-industrial levels, experts say the window to meet the more ambitious target
is closing fast and even the less stringent goal would be missed if emissions
aren't slashed sharply soon.
"We need to have everybody at the table discussing with us about how to
deliver that," al-Suwaidi told The Associated Press in an interview Friday.
"We need to have oil and gas, we need to have industry, we need to have
aviation, we need to have shipping, we need to have all the hard to abate
sectors," he said, adding: "We need all those who can to deliver what they can,
regardless of who they are."
Al-Suwaidi pushed back against the idea that the fossil fuel industry would
undermine meaningful talks on emissions cuts the way they have done in the past
through disinformation campaigns and keeping quiet their own knowledge about
"There's no doubt in my mind that the position of the sector has completely
changed and that they are engaging with us in an active conversation," he said.
Asked whether the talks might consider a phaseout of fossil fuels, proposed
last year by nations most vulnerable to climate change, al-Suwaidi said the
presidency wouldn't preclude such conversations.
"We welcome any kind of discussion," the UAE's former ambassador to Spain
said. "But the parties are the ones who will decide what that discussion is and
where we land."
So far, the summit's designated chair al-Jaber has emphasized the need to
cut emissions, rather than end fossil fuel use itself. It's prompted fears that
he might seek loopholes for untested carbon-capture technologies and so-called
offsets -- both aimed at reducing current levels of carbon dioxide in the air
-- that experts say distract from the need to end the release of greenhouse
A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change earlier this year
called for a nearly two-thirds cut in carbon emissions by 2035, warning that
failure to do so greatly increases the risk of droughts, flooding, sea-level
rise and other short- and long-term disasters.
Al-Suwaidi, who also has a background in the oil and gas sector, said the
UAE leadership is acutely aware of the existential threat global warming poses
-- including to their own sun-rich but water-poor nation -- and is committed to
shifting from fossil fuels toward renewable energy such as wind and solar.
"We want to be part of this new economy," he said. "We're a country that's
running head first into this future."
Al-Suwaidi said agreeing a global goal for ramping up renewable energy in
Dubai could send a positive message to those anxious about the transformation
required to stop climate change.
"Rather than talking about what we're stopping people from doing, let's talk
about how we're helping them to take up solutions ... that are going to help us
to address the emissions problem we have," he said.
The talks in Dubai will also see countries conduct the first 'global
stocktake' of efforts to tackle climate change since Paris in 2015. The results
are meant to inform a new round of commitments by nations to cut emissions and
address the impacts of global warming.
Poor nations are also demanding rich countries make good on pledges for vast
financial support, an issue that has often caused major disagreements at past
"We need the developing world to leapfrog into this new climate system and
we need to support that transition for them," said al-Suwaidi. "Finance is
going to be really fundamental at COP28."
This will require rich countries, including the Group of Seven major
economies, who are historically responsible for a large chunk of global
emissions, to step up, he said.
"They have the technology. They have the know-how. They have the financial
ability. We need them to take that leadership role and show us seriousness
about addressing this challenge."