The International Energy Agency (IEA) hosted a roundtable conference on climate change on Wednesday, where Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, the President-Designate of the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) to be held in Dubai, called for transformative climate progress. The conference was attended by ambassadors representing OECD countries and developing economies, which together account for 80 percent of global emissions.
During his speech, Dr. Al Jaber highlighted the scale of the challenge facing the world in addressing climate change, calling for transformational progress across mitigation, adaptation, climate finance, and loss and damage. He emphasized that the world needs to cut emissions by 43 percent in the next seven years to keep 1.5 alive, and stressed the need for smart government regulation to stimulate transition technologies.
Dr. Al Jaber also reiterated his priorities for mitigation, emphasizing the messages he delivered at CERAWeek in Houston last week when he called on oil and gas companies to decarbonize and help other industries decarbonize. However, his comments have raised concerns about the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) commitment to addressing climate change, given that Dr. Al Jaber is also the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC).
ADNOC is one of the largest oil and gas companies in the Middle East, and its recent announcement of a $150 billion investment to expand oil and gas production capacity over the next few years has sparked controversy. The investment plan will raise crude output capacity to 5 million barrels per day by 2027, earlier than the previous target of 2030. The plan also includes the establishment of a new unit for gas processing and marketing called ADNOC Gas, with a minority share of the business to be sold through an initial public offering in Abu Dhabi in 2023.
The UAE has committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, but its investment plans in the oil and gas sector suggest otherwise. While the country has made efforts to diversify its economy and reduce its reliance on oil, the recent investment plans by ADNOC suggest that the country still sees oil and gas as a key driver of its economy.
Dr. Al Jaber’s statements at the roundtable conference and previous events have been seen as contradictory to ADNOC’s investment plans and the UAE’s commitment to addressing climate change. The country’s appointment as the host of COP28 has also raised concerns about its intentions in addressing the issue. It remains to be seen how the UAE will balance its commitment to climate change with its investment plans in the oil and gas sector.