September 27, 2023

General Studies Paper 3

Context

  • Over the last few weeks, there has been an increasingly vocal campaign to unseat the President-Designate of COP28, Minister Sultan Al Jaber of the host nation, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Background

  • This includes a recent letter from United States and European parliamentarians calling for his removal on the grounds that he is CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.
  • As representatives of developing countries in the climate change front line, and as leaders of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of 58 of the world’s most climate vulnerable countries hosting 1.5 billion of the world’s poorest people, we know only too well the urgency of the climate challenge.
  • We have endured climate-related economic losses of $500 billion in the last two decades alone.

This is a journey of unity

  • However, recognising that this journey, towards a clean energy future, is one we must embark on together.
  • Fossil fuel-dependent economies are critical to these efforts, and they clearly have a more difficult task defining their energy transition strategy.
  • It is important to avoid division and continue to engage the  fellow parties at COP28 and elsewhere on the best way forward for their economies and for the planet.

Finance will be crucial for COP28.

Debt is a barrier

  • Many of the nations are crippled by unsustainable debts, including debts which are becoming unpayable due to climate damages largely caused by emissions elsewhere.
  • Rather than going one by one over the financial cliff, we urgently need a collective approach which recognises the debt problem and the barrier it now poses to clean energy investment and climate adaptation.
  • Sovereign wealth funds and multilateral development banks (MDBs) could assist in de-risking restructured debts and insuring re-issued climate bonds,
  • The UAE leadership for a clean energy target starting in 2025, transforming the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company into the Abu Dhabi Clean Energy and Grid Company by 2030, and towards global financial reform including of the International Monetary Fund.
  • The Loss and Damage fund that was secured last year in Sharm El-Sheikh must not be just be another empty bank account, and fossil fuels-dependent economies can demonstrate their commitment to a shared future by making subscriptions to support funding for climate damages in the most vulnerable countries, well in advance of the COP.
  • Holding COP28 in the UAE, and with Sultan Al-Jaber as COP President-Designate, may well be an opportunity to engage the fossil fuels industry to make some significant and quantifiable commitments to emissions cuts and climate action in general.

Key Points emphasized by the COP28 president-designate Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber:

  • Methane Emissions and Net-Zero Plans.
  • Inclusive Energy Transition and Climate Justice.
  • Maximizing Technology Adoption and Climate Finance.
  • Renewable Energy Capacity and Hydrocarbons.
  • Carbon Capture Technologies and Industrial Emissions.
  • Breakthroughs in Battery Storage, Nuclear Energy, and Fusion.

Conclusion

  • There are no winners and losers in a global climate breakdown. Instead of seeking to exclude relevant parties and stakeholders, we believe everyone should participate in decisions with such important ramifications.
  • Time is running out, and we all need to work together to save the 1.5°C Paris target before it is too late.
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