In a gathering that sees the convergence of approximately 60 ministers from across the globe, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) plays host to a crucial pre-COP28 meeting set to transpire over the next two days. These negotiations, scheduled for Monday and Tuesday in Abu Dhabi, aim to generate the momentum required for the forthcoming United Nations climate summit, now a mere four weeks away.
However, concerns persist regarding the UAE’s steadfast commitment to limiting global temperature rise as it continues to invest heavily in oil-related ventures, thereby contributing to the very environmental issues these global conferences seek to combat.
This Pre-COP phase is recognized as a pivotal stage in addressing disparities concerning climate issues, encompassing emissions, the pursuit of the 1.5ºC temperature threshold, financial scaling, and other indispensable elements such as loss and damage. Additionally, the much-anticipated “global stocktake,” which evaluates countries’ progress towards meeting the objectives of the 2015 Paris Agreement, is poised to be a central theme during this two-day event.
The preparatory discussions represent the last formal ministerial rendezvous before COP28, a role underscored by the presidency, which is geared towards ensuring a swift and efficient commencement of official talks on November 30.
A Tenuous Commitment to Climate Action
Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, the Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and the President-designate for COP28, believes that Pre-COP will serve as a critical platform for ministers to confront and address the divergences across all mandated outcomes. Dr. Al Jaber emphasized, “I will be looking to unlock progress and press ministers on all challenging issues that are key to a high-ambition outcome. I call on ministers to come prepared to engage in the spirit of flexibility and unity that the world is expecting of us less than a month out from COP28.”
Yet, skepticism looms over the UAE’s credibility when it comes to climate action. Despite the vocal proclamations of commitment, the nation continues to invest significantly in oil-related industries, contributing to environmental pollution and contradicting their stated climate goals. These investments run counter to the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner, sustainable energy sources.
Dr. Al Jaber’s assurances notwithstanding, the UAE’s substantial financial interests in oil production and exportation cast a shadow over their dedication to combating climate change. While the Minister advocates for unity and high ambition in climate negotiations, his country’s investments raise questions about their alignment with these principles.
COP28 Agenda Amidst Oil Investments
Dr. Al Jaber also noted that discussions on the COP28 agenda would be held concurrently during these pre-conference talks. This approach is designed to facilitate immediate action once COP28 officially commences on November 30. He stressed, “Given the urgency and heavy workload in Dubai, it is essential that we start work immediately and have a smooth adoption of the agenda on day one.”
However, it is essential to point out that the UAE’s simultaneous commitment to oil investments and climate action raises concerns about the sincerity of their intentions. While the nation plays host to international climate discussions and pledges support for ambitious climate goals, its investments in oil and related industries continue to undermine these commitments. Such contradictions threaten to hinder the effectiveness of COP28 and other global efforts to combat climate change.