His Excellency Dr Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and COP28 President-Designate called for collective climate action from global leaders to transform, decarbonize and future-proof economies.
Dr Al Jaber was speaking to over one thousand five hundred global policymakers, innovators, and industrial leaders at the UAE CLIMATE TECH conference in Abu Dhabi with a call to accelerate the development and deployment of technological solutions to decarbonize economies and reduce emissions by at least forty-three per cent by 2030 in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.
In his remarks, he stressed the urgent need for a responsible and pragmatic energy transition that is laser-focused on phasing out fossil fuel emissions while phasing up all viable zero-carbon alternatives while ensuring that the Global South is not left behind.
“The science is already telling us that we are way off track. The latest IPCC report has confirmed that the world must reduce emissions by forty-three per cent by 2030, and that’s if we are serious about keeping the ambition of 1.5 alive. At the same time, we know that global energy demand will continue to increase because an additional half a billion people will join us on this planet by 2030.”
“If we are going to maintain economic progress, while dramatically reducing emissions, we need nothing short of a major course correction. We need to translate what we agree on inside the COP negotiation rooms into practical actions in the real world. We need to find a way to hold back emissions, not progress. We need breakthrough solutions, and the single most critical source of these solutions is technology.”
Continuing his remarks, Dr Al Jaber noted that cleantech investments broke the $1 trillion barrier for the first time in 2022, with substantial room for growth.
“I believe this transformation represents the greatest opportunity for human and economic development since the first industrial revolution, and I know we are moving in the right direction.”
“With the right policies stimulating the right investments, climate technologies could at least double their contribution to global growth, while removing up to twenty-five billion tons of carbon emissions annually. By leveraging climate technologies, we can build a new economic development model based on putting an end to emissions, while breathing new life into economic growth.”
Despite the growth of renewable energy, the majority of emissions cannot be solved by renewables alone, particularly in heavy-emitting industries. Dr Al Jaber noted that there are more than 5,000 cement, steel and aluminum plants in the world today that together make up almost thirty per cent of global emissions and none of them can run on wind or solar alone.
Dr Al Jaber went on to highlight the critical role of hydrogen and carbon capture in enabling a responsible and pragmatic energy transition.
“Here is where solutions like hydrogen can play a role, but it needs to be scaled up and commercialized to make a real impact in the energy system. If we are serious about curbing industrial emissions, we need to get serious about carbon capture technologies. In any realistic scenario that gets us to net zero, carbon capture technology will have a role to play. Without it, the math just doesn’t add up.”
Dr. Al Jaber emphasized the importance of continuing to invest in nuclear energy, and push for breakthroughs in battery storage, before moving on to the need for cooperation between agriculture and technology to drive down global emissions.
“We should remember that outside of heavy emitting industries, food systems and agriculture are the biggest single source of greenhouse gasses, representing over one-third of global emissions. We need technology companies to really focus on this space. The UAE is emerging as a leader in agri-tech, vertical farming, and the use of digital technologies to reduce energy and water use while increasing crop yields in harsh environments.
“Along with the United States, the UAE has launched AIM for Climate, a fifty-country coalition aimed at maximizing the use of commercial technology to reduce emissions and increase the availability of nutritious food around the world.”
Dr Al Jaber repeated his call on the oil and gas industry to zero out methane emissions by 2030 and align around comprehensive net zero plans by or before 2050.
“While the world still uses hydrocarbons, we must do everything in our power to reduce and eventually eliminate the carbon intensity of that energy. That’s why I have called on the oil and gas industry to zero out methane emissions by 2030 and align around comprehensive net zero plans by or before 2050. The goal for this industry and all industries is clear. We need to phase out emissions from all sectors including transportation, agriculture, heavy industry, and of course fossil fuel emissions while investing in technologies to phase up all viable zero-carbon alternatives.”
“For this to happen faster, we need to reimagine the relationship between producers and consumers. From one based purely on supply and demand to a relationship that is focused on co-creating the future. We must create an active partnership between the largest producers of energy, the biggest industrial consumers, technology companies, the finance community, the government, and civil society. It is an all-of-the-above effort: working together, the goal would be an accelerated, pragmatic, practical and just energy transition that leaves no one behind.”
Dr Al Jaber noted that maximizing technology adoption in the Global South requires the public, multilateral, and private sectors to supercharge climate finance by enhancing the availability, accessibility and affordability of capital in countries that need it most.
“It is critical that as we adopt new technologies, the Global South is not left behind. Last year, developing economies received only twenty per cent of cleantech investments. These economies represent seventy per cent of the world’s population – that’s over 5 billion people. Technology is essential to helping the most vulnerable communities build capacities and leapfrog into a low carbon economic development model.”
Concluding his remarks, Dr Al Jaber noted that time is running out and the stakes for the planet are high. “While the historic Paris Agreement united governments around what the world must do to meet the climate challenge, COP28 will focus on the ‘how’,” Dr. Al Jaber said.