BENGALURU, India, 7th February, 2023 (WAM) -- In his first international visit, since his appointment as President-Designate for COP28 UAE, Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, made the case for a pro-growth, pro-climate agenda to support an inclusive energy transition that leaves no one behind.
Speaking at India Energy Week in Bengaluru at the Asian Ministerial Energy Roundtable, Dr. Al Jaber noted India's strong recovery from the Covid pandemic and that the world's fastest growing major economy was dealing with the central question of how to embed sustainable, environmentally friendly growth into its development model.
"As India's economy surges, it is dealing with the fundamental question that the whole world faces. How to adopt policies that are pro-growth and pro- climate at the same time. How to provide for a world that will consume 30 percent more energy by 2050, while protecting our planet. In short, how to hold back emissions, not progress."
The President-Designate made the point that the of the challenge was matched by the size of the economic opportunity. He noted the significant rise in investment in renewable energy in recent years and India's drive to add 500 GW of clean energy by 2030, adding that the UAE was keen to partner with India and the world on advancing clean energies.
"Last year, despite an ongoing war, fears of recession and a world still recovering from Covid, annual global investment in clean energy exceeded 1 trillion dollars for the first time. And the trajectory is only going up. Most of this new growth will be driven by the dynamic economies of Asia. Here in India, you are aiming for 500GW of clean energy by 2030. This is very ambitious, but also very achievable.
And the UAE is ready, willing and able to partner with you. We have spent the last two decades diversifying our energy portfolio. We've invested in nuclear, we are investing hydrogen and we are expanding our global renewable energy footprint to at least 100 GW by 2030. And we need everyone on this journey with us, so that together we can triple global renewable energy capacity over the next 7 years."
Dr. Al Jaber reiterated that policies should take into account the fact that too many people, particularly across the global south still have no or very limited access to energy. Their needs must be met as we transition to a new energy system and accelerate progress on all aspects of the climate agenda.
"To succeed, when the debate around climate change only seems to be getting more divisive, we must act in solidarity and unity. We must empower the Global South, where almost 800 million people have no electricity, in an inclusive energy transition. We must eliminate energy poverty, while keeping 1.5 alive. And we need to move from talking about goals, to getting the job done. That is why we are calling for COP 28 to be a COP of Action and a COP for All. This is the decade where we must stop deliberating and start delivering across mitigation, adaptation, climate finance and loss and damage. The sise of this challenge is immense, but so is the opportunity."
The COP President Designate underlined the complexity of the energy transition as a system-wide rewiring of global economies and noted that despite the impressive growth of wind and solar power, renewable energy by itself would not be sufficient, particularly to transition hard to abate industries.
"Without a breakthrough in battery storage, we must invest heavily in carbon capture, nuclear power and the hydrogen value chain. But spending on these fundamental enablers of decarbonisation are less than 5 per cent of what is spent on renewables. This must change. And when it comes to change, this also applies to the oil and gas industry. The world still needs hydrocarbons and will need them to bridge from the current energy system to the new one. We cannot unplug the current energy system before we have built the new one. As such, we must minimise their carbon footprint, only invest in the least carbon intensive barrels and continue to reduce their intensity."
He added that he would work across all industries, including the energy industry to accelerate decarbonisation of the current energy system and the growth of clean energy alternatives, adding that the energy industry should be leveraged as an integral part of the solution to the energy transition.
"I will use my experience, know-how and network of partners, and the unwavering support of my leadership, to convene the entire energy industry to speed things up. I will also work with other industries to help rapidly shift demand to viable alternatives that can replace current energy options. The energy transition will require every segment of society working together in an inclusive effort, and that surely means including the efforts of the energy industry. It's not a conflict of interest, it is in our common interest to have the energy industry working alongside everyone on the solutions that the world needs."
Dr. Al Jaber stressed that every stakeholder who can contribute should be included to make faster progress through partnership.
"Every segment of society must be mobilised. Our governments, our businesses, scientists, academics, civil society and youth. We need everyone on board, pulling in the same direction. We need everyone on board, pulling in the same direction- and I mean everyone. So let me end by inviting all who have a stake in our future and all who can contribute solutions - come join us, collaborate, cooperate, partner, share your ideas."
Dr. Sultan reiterated that climate and energy transition progress must be inclusive and deliver a fair deal to the Global South.
"The energy transition has the potential to generate the greatest leap in economic prosperity since the first industrial revolution. But it must be fair. It must be just. And when it comes to the Global South, they have seen little justice so far. We must address this head on. Previous climate finance pledges made by the world have come with a price tag, or not at all. Those pledges must be honored. At the same time, we must expedite reform of international financial institutions and MDBs. We need to get more concessional finance to vulnerable communities around the world to lower risk, attract more private finance and turn billions into trillions. Capital is also key to fully operationalise the loss and damage fund and to double adaptation finance in communities that are most exposed to the effects of climate change, but have done the least to cause it."
The roundtable was convened by the International Energy Forum (IEF), which strives to facilitate a constructive dialogue between energy producing and consuming nations to promote inclusive sustainable development. Dr Al Jaber's address marks the first of a series of appearances the COP28 President-Designate will make as part of a listening tour ahead of COP28 that will engage crucial stakeholders - including governments, private sector, scientists, academics, civil society and youth - in addressing the climate challenge.
In closing, Dr. Al Jaber set out the scale of the task ahead and encouraged all stakeholders to participate, collaborate and share ideas in order to find the necessary solutions in this crucial decade of climate action.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, the task ahead is enormous. It represents the biggest shift in human development across every aspect of our lives, from the way we produce and use energy, to how we grow our food, conserve our water and preserve our natural ecosystems.
"The UAE COP Presidency is listening and ready to engage. Let us meet this challenge together. Let us turn it into the opportunity of our lifetimes. And let's make transformational, inclusive and lasting progress."