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UAE energy summit serves as a trial run for COP28

UAE energy summit serves as a trial run for COP28

UAE energy summit serves as a trial run for COP28


The theme of 2023's Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) is “United on Climate Action Towards COP28,” and judging by the conference's global attendance and talking points, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is treating the event as a trial run before Dubai hosts the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) from Nov. 30, 2023.

UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, who is also CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC Group) and the chairman of the state's renewable energy firm Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar), provided the event's opening address.

The UAE's decision to name Jaber the chair of the upcoming COP28 discussions recently attracted criticism due to the potential conflict of interest seen in an oil boss heading the climate summit. However, if Jaber's opening address is anything to go by, the ADNOC CEO and Masdar chairman is capable of wearing many hats, but is also under no illusion as to the urgency of the transition to clean energy.

UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (front, center) was joined by the heads of state from South Korea, Palau, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Morocco, Seychelles, Zambia, Uganda, and the vice president of Ivory Coast.

Image: Hamad Al Kaabi / UAE Presidential Court

“We have a full and clear understanding of what is at stake,” said Jaber, adding that climate action was at the heart of UAE's development strategy. “For us, sustainable development is about never settling for the now. It is always about the next … Because next never stops.”

Jaber went on to state the emirate's ambition for COP28 to be a “COP of action. A COP where the global north and global south really listen to each other. A COP where we move from goals to getting it done … And a COP where we deliver a new deal on climate finance.”

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While ADNOC is one of the world's major oil companies, it also has a 24% stake in Masdar, and through Masdar the UAE Jaber is overseeing one of the region's most pragmatic approaches to transitioning a fossil-fuel based economy to a green energy economy.

“The road to net zero represents the biggest market transformation with the greatest economic promise since the first industrial revolution,” continued Jaber. “As we prepare to host COP28 in November, I ask myself: can the world come together to meet the urgency of this moment? Can the world cut emissions in half in the next seven years? My answer is yes.”

The decision to name an oil boss as head of the COP28 summit was always going to court controversy. But among attendees of ADSW there are no shortage of people who see Jaber as uniquely capable for the role. After all, with a hand in both the fossil fuel and renewable energy pots, Jaber may prove a functional intermediary between the waning days of oil and a more sustainable future.

The author attended ADSW as a guest of Masdar. 

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