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DUBAI, Feb 15 (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates’ climate envoy and designated chair of the COP28 climate summit said on Wednesday his priority was to maintain the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius as the world was already falling behind. Target.
Sultan al-Jabir, who brushed aside criticism of his appointment as COP28 chairman given he is the head of the UAE state oil major, told Reuters in his first public remarks on the matter that tackling climate change would require a united effort.
The UAE, a major OPEC oil exporter, will host the climate summit this year, the second Arab country to do so after Egypt in 2022. Jaber’s appointment has sparked concern among activists that big industry is hijacking the world’s response to the global warming crisis.
“I have no intention of deviating from the 1.5 goal,” Jober said in his first interview after being assigned the role. “Keeping 1.5 alive is a top priority and it will run through everything I do.”
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The meeting, scheduled for Nov. 30-Dec. 12 in Dubai, will be the first global assessment of progress since the landmark 2015 Paris agreement to limit global warming.
As COP28 chair, Jaber will help set the conference agenda and intergovernmental negotiations.
He said he would focus on building consensus and was ready to listen to all parties who wished to actively participate.
“We face major challenges,” Jaber said.
Asked about the criticism, he said: “How about we use everyone’s capabilities and strengths one at a time to fight climate change instead of attacking each other?”
With a decade of experience in climate diplomacy, Jaber has no shortage of green credentials.
His first CEO job was at Masdar, the Abu Dhabi green energy company he founded in 2006 and is now one of the world’s largest investors in clean energy.
It was that experience that led the UAE leadership to appoint him to lead Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Jaber told Reuters, with a mandate to “transform, decarbonise and future-proof” the energy company.
Balancing passion and realism
Scientists say the Paris agreement, which requires countries to limit the rise in global average temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with a target of 1.5 degrees Celsius, could trigger more severe climate change impacts if exceeded.
In order to stick to the target, a major “course correction” was required, Jaber said. “We need to be honest with ourselves, we know the whole world is off track.”
Jaber said there must be an approach that leaves no one behind, including oil and gas companies, so they can be part of the solution rather than being relegated to being part of the problem.
While applauding the enthusiasm of climate activists and the need for their voices to be heard, Jaber added: “You have to strike a balance between enthusiasm and reality, and that’s what we need to focus on.”
Regarding the need to mobilize more capital, he pointed to the reform of international financial institutions and the involvement of the private sector.
“If there are concessional instruments backed by international financial institutions to help reduce risk, the private sector will be interested in exploring opportunities, especially in disadvantaged communities,” Jaber said.
He also believes that the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) model, approved for South Africa at COP26 and Indonesia at COP27, is a successful way to drive progress in transition economies and should be expanded.
“The key to their success so far has been a public-private partnership approach that combines concessional and private financing to lower investment barriers and risks.”
Reporting by Maha El Dahan; Editing by Ghaida Ghantous and Kirsten Donovan
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