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Practical transition to clean energy key to decarbonization: COP28’s al-Jaber

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  • Adapting to climate change and practically transitioning to clean energy is the key to decarbonization, COP28’s President Designate Sultan al-Jaber says.

Adapting to the effects of climate change, practically transitioning from fossil-fuel based energy sources to clean energy and providing government support to high-emission industries are three key pathways to contribute to decarbonization efforts and meet the 1.5 degree Celsius global warming limit, COP28 President-Designate Sultan al-Jaber said on Sunday.

“We cannot unplug the energy system of today before we build the new system of tomorrow,” al-Jaber said in a keynote at the MENA Climate Week in Riyadh – an event hosted by the Saudi government in collaboration with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

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The event, held at the Boulevard Riyadh City, brings together policy makers, private sector firms, youth campaigners, and other key stakeholders in the climate change and sustainability sphere.

“It is simply not practical or possible. We must meet the energy demands of our growing populations while providing access to the 8.3 billion people that don’t have access to energy today. And we must rapidly build the system of the future while we decarbonize the system of today,” al-Jaber added.

To do this, he said the world must “ramp up all new clean energies,” while being optimistic of “transformational outcomes” at the upcoming climate summit COP28 in Dubai.

Al-Jaber, who is also the head of the national UAE oil giant ADNOC, said that engaging with “heavy emitting industries” like steel, aluminum and cement is crucial.

This, he said, can only be done with the support of regional governments.

“We must separate facts from fiction, reality from fantasy, and impact from ideology,” said al-Jaber, calling on nations to think and act beyond political divisions and national boundaries.

The MENA region is water-scarce and has some of the hottest months around the world. This is only expected to worsen as the climate crises worsens.

Recognizing an impacted future, many leaders from the GCC, many who are oil producing nations, have identified and taken steps to reduce the negative effects of their emissions.

“I have witnessed our desire to grow and transform our young societies and economies. I have felt our individual motivation to drive real progress through enlightened and positive leadership. This leadership has in fact inspired programs as ambitious and as meaningful as the Saudi and Middle East Green Initiative that is driving positive environmental impacts and improving the lives of countless communities,” al-Jaber said.

He added that he is “committed and determined to rally the world behind the pragmatic and ambitious comprehensive climate agenda – an agenda that puts the world back on track to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement across mitigation and adaptation…”

He also highlighted the region’s many current impacts from climate change.

“We live in a region of extreme heat, water scarcity, and food insecurity. We are also suffering harsh climate impacts from droughts to the devastating floods of Derna. To deliver for our region, we must put an adaptation front and center.”

The COP28 summit is scheduled to take place in the UAE financial capital city of Dubai between November 30 and December 12. Al-Jaber also highlighted that UAE is among 17 of 27 countries to have hosted the UN climate conference, which was a fossil fuel producing nation.

At the event, world governments are expected to hasten action to limit global warming, especially since reports are showing countries are off track to meet any prior promise in their journeys to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius.


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