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Watch: COP28 President-designate calls on MENA nations to expand legacy of climate leadership

Dubai: COP28 President-designate and UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change Dr Sultan Al Jaber has made a concerted call to all nations in the MENA region to sign the transformative COP28 declarations for action including a statement on food, agriculture and climate, aimed at feeding a growing population without overheating our planet.

Addressing the five-day MENA Climate Week which opened today in Riyadh, Dr Al Jaber said: “We are partnering with the United Nations Environment Program to deliver on a global cooling commitment to reduce the energy used to cool our homes. And COP28 will also be the first to put global health on the climate agenda with a political declaration in partnership with the World Health Organization. “We call on all countries in the MENA region to sign these declarations.”

Urging nations to transcend national borders, he said: “To achieve truly revolutionary progress, we must separate fact from fiction, fantasies from reality, and avoid the pitfalls of division and distraction. Climate change does not recognize political divisions or national borders. It affects everyone, everywhere. “The size of the challenge requires everyone to come forward.”

Special summit with 1,000 mayors

He said that, with this in mind, he was inviting 1,000 mayors to share what is working locally at a special summit at COP28.

“I am hosting a special summit to engage the private sector and philanthropic organizations in driving practical and impactful climate solutions. We will include the energy and voices of our youth, the wisdom of indigenous peoples and people of all faiths. global solidarity to achieve global progress,” said

Adaptation at the center of the climate agenda

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

He said donors must double funding for adaptation and replenish the Green Climate Fund. “Old promises must be kept, including the $100 billion promise made more than a decade ago. Old institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which were built for the realities of the last century, must update their charters for today’s climate realities. And the private sector must step up to invest not only in the opportunities of the Global North, but also in the needs of the Global South.”

He said: “Throughout my life, I have seen firsthand the transformative capabilities of our region. I have experienced our resilience in the face of global events and climate change. I have witnessed our desire to grow and transform our young societies and economies. And I have felt our individual motivation to drive progress, through enlightened and positive leadership.”

According to him, this leadership has inspired programs such as the Saudi Arabia and Middle East Green Initiative that are generating positive environmental impact and improving the lives of countless communities. For these reasons, he was confident that this region had the vision and the capacity to forge a better future, not only for the Middle East and North Africa, but for the entire world.

“This region has the resources, leadership and experience to create a climate positive future with new industries, new technologies, new jobs and new hopes,” said the President. “Let’s apply our capabilities, our capital, our knowledge and scale to deliver positive results,” he added.

“With COP28 just 53 days away, I am determined to unite the world behind an ambitious and comprehensive climate agenda. An agenda that works for the people of MENA as well as the world,” he added.

Proud history of hosting COP

According to Dr. Al Jeber, the region has a proud history of offering POPs to the world. He told the meeting: “Doha set out a timetable for a global climate agreement. Marrakech set the framework for greater collaboration between cities, regions, companies and investors. Sharm El Sheikh marked a major victory for the Global South by accepting the Loss and Damage Fund. And, with his help and support, COP28 will once again be beneficial for this region and for the world.”

Boost for clean energy and renewable energies

He said that of the 27 COPs so far, 17 had been held in fossil fuel-producing countries. He said: “The fact is that energy is essential for everyone, everywhere. And achieving a fair, equitable and well-managed energy transition is essential for economic and climate progress. We cannot disconnect today’s energy system before building tomorrow’s new system. We must meet today’s energy demands while providing access to the 800 million people who lack energy. And we must quickly build the clean energy system of the future, while decarbonizing the system of today.”

For this to happen, he said renewable energy must be increased. “That is why I have set a global goal of tripling renewable energy and doubling energy efficiency by 2030. I am pleased that 85 percent of the world’s economies, including the G20, have supported this goal. In parallel, I have called on all oil and gas companies to align around net zero by 2050 or sooner and to reduce methane emissions to zero by 2030. So far, more than 20 companies have stepped forward and I continue to participate and ask everyone to get to work. on board for COP28.”

He said that if the world wants to truly reduce emissions on a gigaton scale, it must also partner with high-emitting industries to accelerate their transitions and reduce their emissions. This cannot happen without the support of governments.

“We need smart policies to commercialize hydrogen, reduce the cost of carbon capture and incentivize investment in other clean technologies,” he added.

Following the opening ceremony, Dr Al Jaber participated in two high-level sessions: a regional dialogue on the global stocktake, in which policymakers and other key stakeholders discussed regional perspectives on the progress of the stocktake, and a GCC ministerial meeting, where he highlighted the role of COP28 in positioning the region as a climate leader and the importance of the region’s support in achieving tangible climate action.

Dr Al Jaber also spoke with key MENA Climate Week attendees including Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Minister of Energy of Saudi Arabia, Jassem AlBudaiwi, Secretary General of the GCC, Ajay Banga, President of the World Bank, Borge Brende , President of the World Economic Forum, Jim Skea, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Ahmad Aslam, Minister of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination of Pakistan, and Saad Nasser Al Barrak, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Petroleum of Kuwait.

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