ABU DHABI, 18th January, 2022 (WAM) -- The UAE sees the energy transition as an opportunity to transform and diversify the economic growth model of the country, according to Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate Change.
Speaking during a virtual panel session titled 'Projecting COP Ambitions across COP27 and COP28 and Economic Diversification Priorities Post-pandemic' at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), Dr. Al Jaber explained how the UAE and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region can take advantage of the drive to climate action.
Dr. Al Jaber was speaking alongside the Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma MP, President of COP26, and Sameh Shoukry, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt and President-Designate of COP27, during the session moderated by Fred Kempe, President and CEO of the Atlantic Council.
Dr. Al Jaber said, "This region has specific advantages that can accelerate the energy transition from our position as energy leaders. Firstly, as long as the world continues to rely on oil and gas we can ensure reliable supplies of the least carbon intensive oil and gas available. We are leveraging this position to further drive down the carbon intensity through expansion of the first in the region carbon capture facility.
"We are also building on our unique capabilities in hydrogen to lay the foundation for a zero carbon hydrogen market. And, as you know, the UAE has been investing in the solar and broader renewable space for the last 15 years, and we are doubling down on this investment."
Dr. Al Jaber pointed out that globally, at least US$3 trillion will be invested in renewable energy over the next ten years. He said this represents a multi-trillion dollar opportunity that the UAE, the region and its international partners can capitalise on. "In fact, this is the thinking behind our Net Zero Strategic Initiative. Net zero, for us, is about new industries, new skills and new jobs. For us, the business of tackling climate change is simply good business."
Dr. Al Jaber cited the recent strategic partnership between Abu Dhabi National Energy Company PJSC (TAQA), Mubadala Investment Company (Mubadala) and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) which transformed Masdar into a global clean energy powerhouse. He said the new Masdar has almost doubled its renewable energy capacity and the ambition is to build on this solid foundation to reach 100 gigawatts (GW). Dr. Al Jaber called for partners, in the public and private sectors, to join the UAE and Masdar in delivering these ambitious goals that will lead to new industries, new skills, new jobs and new opportunities.
Responding to a question on the outcome of COP26 (the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference), Dr. Al Jaber noted it was a success as Glasgow united 90% of the world's economy on the path to net zero.
"COP 26 also succeeded in launching many coalitions between governments and businesses to accelerate innovation. AIM for Climate, which the UAE launched with the US and 34 other countries is a good example. This is a growing coalition that directs investment to agri-tech to reduce agricultural emissions, which account for as much a third of global emissions. And critically COP26 finally reached a deal on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which lays the foundation for effective carbon markets. All of this creates great momentum and a great platform which Egypt and the UAE can, and will, build on."
On COP28 which is set to take place in Abu Dhabi in 2023, Dr. Al Jaber highlighted that it will mark the first ever global stocktake that will show us how we are tracking towards the Paris goals and, critically, it will set the roadmap towards 2030 and beyond. He added that the UAE is already working closely with the UK and Egypt to continue the momentum of COP26 and went on to detail the UAE's approach to COP28.
"We want Abu Dhabi to be where the world turn pledges into concrete results and help take commercially viable climate solutions to scale around the world. This is why we want COP 28 to be as inclusive as possible, reflecting the views of developed alongside developing countries, the public and private sectors and scientists and civil society."
"Inclusive also means including the expertise that exists across the energy spectrum, and specifically the hydrocarbon industry, because if we want to successfully transition to the energy system of tomorrow, we cannot simply unplug from the energy system of today. We need to make the current system work more efficiently with less carbon. We should leverage expertise from across the energy sector to find the climate solutions we need," said Dr. Al Jaber as he stressed the need to always remember that the goal is to hold back emissions, not progress.
Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma MP expressed his optimism that both COP27, which will be hosted by Egypt, and COP28 will be successful while Sameh Shoukry highlighted that COP27 will be the first COP in what should be an "implementation decade", where the world steps up its collective efforts to implement the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris agreement.