In an exclusive interview with HT, Ambassador Majid Al Suwaidi, the director-general of COP28, revealed the top priorities for the upcoming UN Global Climate talks in Dubai, scheduled for November. With a firm commitment to mitigating emissions, driving adaptation efforts, operationalizing the Loss and Damage fund, and ensuring the delivery of climate finance, COP28 aims to tackle the pressing challenges faced by the Global South. The event, hosted in the Global South for the Global South, promises to be ambitious, seeking solutions that will contribute to achieving the Paris Agreement’s goal of a 43% reduction in global emissions.
COP28 Director-General, Ambassador Majid Al Suwaidi, Paves the Way for Global South Empowerment at UN Climate Talks
Ambassador Al Suwaidi expressed the UAE’s eagerness to foster low-carbon development in the Global South and collaborate closely with India, which is expected to play a pivotal role in the event. As preparations intensify ahead of the UN Climate talks in Bonn, where the agenda for COP28 will be established, the director-general shared his insights on the key focus areas. The interview excerpts shed light on COP28’s vision and the measures required to address the global climate crisis effectively.
The director-general emphasized the need to confront the daunting questions that lie ahead. Reflecting on the achievements of COP21 in Paris, he acknowledged that the world has deviated from the path necessary to fulfill the goals and aspirations outlined in the historic agreement. Therefore, COP28 aims to realign efforts and steer the world back on track. To achieve the ambitious target of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, financing goals must be met, and a comprehensive discussion involving industry, the private sector, governments, and civil society should take place. The aim is to explore viable solutions that can deliver immediate results and restore confidence in the COP process.
Mitigation emerges as a key pillar of COP28’s strategy, acknowledging that it lies at the root of the problem. The director-general advocates for a genuine dialogue on the 43% reduction in emissions required to fulfill the Paris Agreement’s objectives. This entails fostering open discussions with various stakeholders and formulating solutions that can be implemented expeditiously. While mitigation assumes paramount importance, COP28 also recognizes the criticality of adaptation efforts. The adoption of adaptive measures can yield multiple benefits, particularly in sectors such as agriculture and food systems. Ensuring the well-being of vulnerable communities by assisting them in adapting to the changing climate represents another significant dimension of COP28’s agenda.
Addressing the issue of Loss and Damage, a mandate inherited from COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, the director-general underscores the significance of operationalizing the Loss and Damage fund. This fund serves as a vital instrument in safeguarding the most vulnerable communities, which often bear the brunt of climate-related challenges despite having minimal contributions to global emissions. Operationalizing the fund emerges as a crucial deliverable for COP28, representing a step towards rectifying the injustices faced by these communities.
Climate finance also takes center stage at COP28
Climate finance also takes center stage at COP28. Despite widespread discussions on climate action, the necessary financial resources have not been adequately mobilized, particularly in the developing world. The director-general emphasizes the urgency of attracting trillions of dollars in investment rather than settling for the unfulfilled promise of $100 billion. Achieving this requires significant reforms within multinational banks and international financial institutions, as well as increased involvement from the private sector.
When questioned about the prospects of phasing out or phasing down fossil fuels, Ambassador Al Suwaidi asserts that COP28 remains open to all discussions, technologies, and solutions that can facilitate immediate action and propel progress towards the desired goals. Rather than engaging in ideological debates, COP28 focuses on pragmatic and practical approaches that can be
implemented without delay. The priority lies in addressing the current emissions gap and exploring avenues for collaboration among nations.
The director-general emphasizes the need to strike a delicate balance between development and environmental sustainability, particularly in the Global South. While acknowledging the imperative of lifting people out of poverty, COP28 seeks to promote low-carbon development models that ensure a sustainable future. The support of developed nations becomes crucial in enabling capacity building, facilitating the transfer of knowledge and finance to foster climate-friendly development.
Ambassador Al Suwaidi highlights India’s pivotal role as one of the most important partners in COP28. Recognizing the longstanding friendship and historical collaboration between the UAE and India, he expresses enthusiasm for India’s substantial contributions to the event. Stressing the need for increased mitigation efforts and investments, the director-general acknowledges India’s ongoing initiatives and emphasizes the vast potential for further action.
Ambition remains a core value for COP28, with a strong emphasis on achieving the objectives set forth in the Paris Agreement. Every fraction of a degree of temperature rise matters, and concerted efforts must be made to keep it as low as possible. The director-general expresses disappointment regarding the delay in delivering on climate financing commitments, urging partners to fulfill their promises and rally behind the trillions of dollars required for meaningful climate action. COP28 calls for a tripling of renewable energy targets and underscores the urgency of building the necessary infrastructure to facilitate a rapid transition to sustainable energy systems.
The director-general emphasizes the importance of unity and political will to address the global climate crisis effectively. COP28 aims to be a landmark moment that unites nations in their shared commitment to combating climate change. By embracing all available technologies, including carbon capture and storage, and exploring nature-based solutions such as mangroves, COP28 seeks to create an inclusive platform for all stakeholders to contribute their unique perspectives and accelerate progress.
COP28 recognizes the pathway to achieving net-zero emissions, which requires unwavering political will, technological advancements, and substantial financial backing. By harnessing collective determination and aligning national interests, COP28 aspires to be a unifying force that transcends individual agendas.
As the world eagerly awaits COP28 in Dubai this November, Ambassador Al Suwaidi’s visionary leadership underscores the importance of bold action and collaboration. The event’s positioning in the Global South for the Global South signifies a transformative shift in addressing climate change. With its ambitious goals and comprehensive agenda, COP28 has the potential to propel the world towards a more sustainable and resilient future.