The world is “way off track” to meet the climate goals set in Paris in 2015, warned Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, president of the next COP28 UN summit in his first major speech since being named to the post.
Al Jaber – whose appointment caused controversy due to his role as CEO of Abu Dhabi oil group Adnoc – said the summit in the UAE at the end of this year would be the first to conduct a ‘stocktake’ of progress made since the historic COP21 in the French capital.
“We don’t need to wait to know what it will say,” Al Jaber, the UAE’s industry and advanced technology minister, told the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Forum held in Abu Dhabi.
“We are way off track”, he said, adding that the world is playing “catch up” on efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, the flagship goal of the Paris Agreement.
Al Jaber pledged the UAE would host a “COP of action” and said he wants to see a tripling of renewable energy generation by 2030 and doubling of “low carbon” hydrogen production.
Al Jaber’s appointment as COP28 president was questioned by some environmental activists, with claims that his role as Adnoc chief represents a fundamental conflict of interests with the goals of the summit.
Climate Action Network International claimed the move “is tantamount to a full-scale capture of the UN climate talks by a petrostate national oil company”.
But others such as US climate envoy and veteran green campaigner John Kerry praised the appointment, saying Al Jaber is an “experienced diplomat and business person”, a “unique combination [that] will help bring all the necessary stakeholders to the table to move faster and at scale”.
Al Jaber in his speech pointed to the pioneering role of Abu Dhabi’s global renewable energy champion Masdar, which he founded and still chairs, a company he said represented an early “bold and proactive move” to back green development.
Masdar – which has plans in every aspect of the energy transition from offshore wind to PV and green hydrogen – wants to have 100GW of renewable energy capacity in place by 2030, among the most ambitious targets globally.