Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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In the run-up to the highly anticipated COP28 talks, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has taken a distinct stance on combatting global warming, calling for a phased reduction in fuel emissions rather than an immediate halt to fossil fuel production. This position, voiced by UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Mariam Almheiri, highlights the deep divisions among nations when it comes to addressing climate change.

While some wealthy Western governments and climate-vulnerable island nations advocate for a complete phase-out of fossil fuels, countries rich in natural resources have been lobbying to maintain their drilling activities. The UAE’s position is rooted in the belief that abruptly ceasing fossil fuel production would have severe consequences for nations heavily reliant on them for revenue, as well as those lacking viable alternatives.

Almheiri, speaking at the Agriculture Innovation Mission (AIM) for Climate conference in Washington, expressed her support for reducing fossil fuel emissions through the utilization of capture and storage technologies while simultaneously increasing renewable energy sources. She emphasized that the renewable energy sector is advancing rapidly, but it is not yet capable of replacing fossil fuels entirely.

“We are now in a transition, and this transition needs to be just and pragmatic because not all countries have the resources,” Almheiri stated, underscoring the need for an equitable approach.

The UAE, which is co-hosting the AIM conference with the United States, is not alone in advocating for a gradual reduction in fuel emissions. Last year, over 80 countries, including the European Union and small island nations, agreed to incorporate language in the final outcome of the climate summit in Egypt, calling for a phasedown of all fossil fuels. However, countries such as Saudi Arabia and China vehemently opposed the inclusion of such language.

Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the UAE’s COP28 president designate and minister for industry and advanced technology, added his voice to the conversation, urging the oil and gas industry to eliminate methane emissions by 2030 and embrace comprehensive net zero plans by 2050. In his address at the UAE Climate Tech forum, Al Jaber emphasized the significance of reducing methane emissions, which contribute to approximately 30% of global temperature rise since the industrial revolution.

Al Jaber called for a phase-out of emissions across all sectors, including transportation, agriculture, and heavy industry, while simultaneously investing in zero-carbon alternatives. Despite increasing energy demand due to global population growth, he emphasized the importance of reducing emissions by 43% by 2030. Al Jaber highlighted the role of technology in achieving emission reduction goals without hindering economic progress. He cited the significant investments in clean tech, surpassing $1 trillion in 2022, and the potential for climate technologies to double their contribution to global growth while eliminating up to 25 billion tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

The COP28 president designate also stressed the necessity of investing in hydrogen and carbon capture technologies. While renewables alone cannot address emissions from sectors such as cement, steel, and aluminum, which account for 30% of global emissions, Al Jaber called on policymakers to incentivize technology companies to commercialize carbon capture technologies.

Moreover, Al Jaber emphasized the importance of a just transition and climate finance for the Global South. He advocated for making technology adoption more accessible, affordable, and available to vulnerable communities, enabling them to transition to low-carbon economic development models.

The UAE’s position reflects the complex realities of addressing climate change on a global scale. While the urgency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is undeniable, the economic and social implications of an immediate halt to fossil fuel production cannot be ignored. The UAE acknowledges the need for a pragmatic approach that balances emission reduction with the economic needs of nations heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

As the host of COP28, the UAE aims to facilitate productive discussions and forge consensus among nations with divergent viewpoints. The country recognizes the importance of technology and innovation in achieving emission reduction targets while ensuring economic growth. By emphasizing the role of capture and storage technologies and the investment in renewable energy sources, the UAE seeks to strike a balance between climate action and the socio-economic considerations of nations.

The upcoming COP28 talks will serve as a crucial platform for countries to negotiate and collaborate on effective climate solutions. The UAE’s stance underscores the importance of finding common ground and implementing practical actions that address emissions across all sectors. It highlights the need for comprehensive strategies that go beyond fossil fuel production, encompassing transportation, agriculture, heavy industry, and more.

The world awaits the outcome of the COP28 talks, hoping for significant progress in addressing the climate crisis. The UAE’s call for a phased reduction in fuel emissions, combined with its emphasis on technology adoption, climate finance, and a just transition, adds a unique perspective to the global discourse. As nations gather to find common ground, the need for collaborative and inclusive approaches becomes even more apparent, with the ultimate goal of creating a sustainable and resilient future for all.


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