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Letter to Parties: COP28 UAE

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By Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber

· 18 min read

Excellencies, colleagues,

I last wrote to you to introduce myself in the role of COP President-Designate and lay out our challenges and opportunities this year. I hope that now all of you, across negotiating groups, constituencies, and non-state actors, know me and my team and understand our commitment to climate action and our dedication to ensuring that COP28 is a success. I have listened to, and engaged extensively with, people from every segment of society, and this process has been extremely helpful in guiding me and informing the plan I am communicating today.

Through our conversations, and as we advance our plans, the importance of collective action has never been clearer. No country, company, or individual can address a challenge of this scale alone. I heard clearly from you that, to ensure COP28 delivers real solutions to the climate crisis, we need everyone to play their part in a global effort that transforms our current course and supercharges solutions across the negotiations and the Action Agenda. I am writing to update you on the progress we have made and to call on you to join us in delivering the comprehensive transformation required now, to reinvigorate the process and restore hope through collective action. 

The Vision

This year, more than ever, unity is a prerequisite for success. COP28, and the first Global Stocktake (GST) of the Paris Agreement, can be the turning point we need on climate action over this critical decade.

We know that if we do the right things now and take them to scale, we will create vast economic potential for everyone - North and South, East and West. The umbrella of this first GST, and our urgent response to its outcome, provides us with the chance we need to get the world on track.

Together, we can accelerate a transition that puts our economies on the path toward a new low-carbon, high-growth, sustainable economic model in a way that is both transformational and just. We must all rise to the occasion. Our vision to deliver on the pillars of the Paris Agreement is to focus our specific action on four paradigm shifts:

  • Fast-tracking the energy transition and slashing emissions before 2030;
  • Transforming climate finance, by delivering on old promises and setting the framework for a new deal on finance;
  • Putting nature, people, lives and livelihoods at the heart of climate action;
  • Mobilizing for the most inclusive COP ever.

The global community already knows the GST will show we are off track. Our vision to course correct is three-fold:

  1. The negotiated outcome: An ambitious outcome on adaptation, mitigation, loss and damage, finance and means of implementation which is comprehensive in looking backwards while equally looking forward to identify gaps. It should rally all Parties around concrete, equitable solutions to close those gaps, inform NDCs and NAPs, and enshrine Paris-aligned 2030 pathways, including pursuing efforts to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C.
  2. The Action Agenda: An immediate response of real-world, inclusive policy, finance, and technology solutions that pushes new resources, partners and champions to coalitions in each sector - framed by a two-day World Climate Action Summit and an innovative two-week program.
  3. A call to action with a clear message to the world on how every government, industry and individual can play their part in the exponential change needed to correct the course of our current development pathway, to ensure we are on track to achieve what the science says is needed by 2030.

How to achieve this: To support the ongoing negotiations process on the GST, I have requested the support of H.E. Barbara Creecy, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries of South Africa and
H.E. Dan Jørgensen, Minister for Development Cooperation and Global Climate Policy of Denmark, to conduct consultations on my behalf and engage at the political level with Parties, groups and constituencies, on critical elements regarding the outcome of the first GST at COP28. These consultations will take place over the coming weeks, reporting back to the incoming Presidency in time for UNGA, to align with a ministerial meeting that we will host in New York in September. We will also host the mandated workshop on the elements of the outcome of the GST in October in the UAE. We ask all Parties and constituencies to play their part by actively engaging with these consultations and events.

At the negotiations in Bonn last month, the high stakes were evident. As I listened to Parties and constituencies, I could see how passionate every single person is about the importance of the COP28 outcome. I am grateful for the hard work of all the Parties, the Subsidiary Body Chairs, and the Secretariat. However, it was also clear that, despite our unity of purpose, we are still far from achieving our collective goals.

We must all learn from this session and COPs past to best position ourselves for success at COP28. We will work with Parties, the COP27 Presidency, the Subsidiary Body Chairs, and the UNFCCC Secretariat to deliver an early publication of the COP agenda and, in consultation with all groups and constituencies, ensure that all agendas can be adopted smoothly, and focused work can begin on November 30. We will also work with the Presiding Officers and the Secretariat to ensure that the Code of Conduct is universally applied, to prevent the issues raised in Bonn.

At COP28, everyone must work together to renew trust in the COP process, by delivering on previous promises, by accelerating the energy transition, by scaling up and reforming climate finance, and making it more accessible, and by better protecting health, nature and our food systems - all in a manner that puts people, lives and livelihoods at the heart of everything we do. We must all do our part to ensure we succeed. The credibility of our inclusive multilateral process depends on it.

Regardless of the framework we collectively land on, it is clear that the GST process, and immediate response package, will need substance to make it real. The negotiations process remains at the heart of the UNFCCC and global climate action, but it needs a complementary Action Agenda that drives policy, finance, and technology to ensure implementation.

For the Action Agenda, we are organizing a sector-by-sector response to the GST with a focus on closing the gaps to 2030, which both builds on existing coalitions and metrics and proposes new configurations of partners to accelerate implementation. In addition to the negotiations, we expect all Parties, observers, and other stakeholders to come to COP28 with contributions across the Action Agenda, with negotiated and action outcomes both focusing on the four paradigm shifts the world needs.

Four Paradigm Shifts

1: Fast-tracking the energy transition and slashing emissions before 2030

The science demands a strong mitigation outcome at COP28 that drives a significant reduction in emissions and builds on the progress of previous COPs. COP28 presents an opportunity to fast-track the energy transition by building the energy system of the future, while rapidly decarbonizing the energy system of today to keep 1.5°C within reach. Phasing down demand for, and supply of, all fossil fuels is inevitable and essential. Strengthened policies to achieve this goal are required. We must take a holistic approach that brings together both the supply and the demand side in an integrated manner. The world must urgently accelerate the energy transition in an orderly, just and equitable way that accounts for energy security and ensures that finance and technology is available for developing countries to implement the transition. All countries will need to act, all elements of the energy system will need to be addressed, and we must have an honest conversation about what it will take to deliver a responsible and just transition that empowers climate-positive development everywhere, in particular across the Global South. Through the UAE’s 20-year track record of investing in the energy transition and decarbonization at home and in over 70 countries, we have experienced first-hand the opportunity of climate-smart development. As the COP Presidency, we are putting forward a vision based on what we know is possible and aligned both with the sustainable economic interests of countries, communities, non-state actors and a cleaner, greener world.

The COP28 mitigation outcome must: Develop systems decarbonization pathways in a manner consistent with the principles and provisions of the Paris Agreement; operationalize carbon market and non-market approaches in
a way that incentivizes higher mitigation ambition and helps channel investments to support the implementation of the transition; and identify ways to maximize positive and minimize negative impacts of the implementation of response measures. COP28 must also launch and accelerate work on the Just Energy Transition package that, in line with science, keeps the goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C within reach and accelerates the inevitable and responsible phase-down of all fossil fuels, accelerates the phase-down of all unabated coal, and leads to an energy system free of unabated fossil fuels in the middle of this century. This transition requires scaling up investments in clean energy supply and much more efficient use of energy. It also needs to be just and equitable and address challenges, including achieving universal energy access, enabling infrastructure development, reforming policies, and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. This work should be complemented with non-energy mitigation outcomes, including halting deforestation, tackling non-CO2 gases and scaling carbon management.

To complement a strong mitigation outcome, the COP28 Presidency is working with state and industry partners globally to deliver the ambitious energy package that science tells us we need: 1. Tripling renewable energy capacity and doubling the rate of energy efficiency improvements across sectors by 2030, including ramping up electrification and enhanced cooling approaches, to enable phase-down of fossil fuels. 2. More than halving oil and gas industry scope 1 and 2 emissions, including reaching near-zero methane emissions by 2030. 3. Transforming heavy-emitting sectors, including scaling up use of low-carbon hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and carbon dioxide removal, aligned with science. 4. Substantially shifting toward fossil-free forms of transport, including through vehicle electrification and modal shifts. 5. Taking action to accelerate efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, addressing coal-related methane emissions and deploying clean baseload capacity. 6. Companies and countries to set ambitious goals, take action, and remain accountable through disclosures, in line with best practices and global standards.

To support this effort, the COP28 Presidency and the International Energy Agency (IEA), together with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the UNFCCC will convene high-level dialogues for building a 1.5°C aligned energy transition. This initiative will aim to build momentum around the target energy outcomes for COP28, as well as consensus around 1.5°C compatible energy transition pathways and the enabling conditions needed to achieve them, accommodating for different characteristics across countries. The dialogues will engage public and private sector energy decision-makers, along with scientists and the academic community, reflecting a holistic global view of the energy system, and will seek to prepare the ground for specific commitments and calls for actions at the World Climate Action Summit at COP28.

Finally, the UAE leadership is pleased to have submitted a third revision to our second NDC, in line with the call from COP27, raising the ambition even further to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030, compared to business as usual. We call on all Parties to update their NDCs in advance of COP28, to spearhead progress in this critical decade.

2: Deliver old promises and set the framework for a new deal on finance

Finance is a critical enabler of climate action. But to unleash its power, climate finance must be affordable, available, and accessible to developing countries. We know that the current international financial architecture is fragmented and offers insufficient solutions. If we are to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, emerging and developing countries need in excess of USD 2.4 trillion of annual investment in climate action by 2030. Climate finance arrangements need to transform to deliver at this scale, to work better as a system and support finance mobilization directed to developing countries at unprecedented levels.

To progress this ambitious, forward-looking finance agenda, we need to first address the long-standing commitments that risk undermining trust in the process. The COP28 Presidency is encouraged by the G7 Communiqué and early pledges towards the Green Climate Fund (GCF). We are calling on developed countries
to maintain this momentum and urgently make ambitious pledges to replenish the GCF. In addition, we urge developed countries to ensure that the goal of doubling adaptation finance by 2025 is on track, as agreed at COP26, and call on multilateral development banks (MDBs) and development finance institutions (DFIs) to continue putting a stronger emphasis on scaling adaptation finance. The Presidency continues to encourage developed countries to progress and provide assurances on the delivery of the USD 100 billion, in conjunction with Germany and Canada as coordinators of the Climate Finance Delivery Plan.

In parallel, COP28 will help build the foundation for a finance system of the future. The Summit for a New Global Financing Pact generated strong momentum for creating a new financial architecture that is fit for purpose, with many developing countries calling to push the envelope. Between now and COP28, we will facilitate a holistic conversation about finance to enable a radical increase in ambition. This will culminate in a high-level state and non-state actor dialogue that identifies principles for a new financial framework that can deliver the net zero transition in an inclusive way for all countries and communities, covering adaptation, mitigation, and loss and damage by public, private and philanthropic capital from domestic and international sources. Together with Egypt, as COP27 Presidency, we have commissioned a second report by the High-Level Independent Expert Group to define the contours of an adequate landscape for climate finance, which will help start this dialogue. We look forward to sharing the outcomes at the World Climate Action Summit.

We also call on Parties to work constructively with the co-chairs of the New Collective Quantified Goal on Climate Finance (NCQG) to identify the options for the elements of the goal and provide the guidance needed to make substantive progress this year to adopt an ambitious outcome in 2024.

This new financial architecture will require stronger international financial institutions (IFIs) that work better as a system. We are working with partners to support ambitious progress on IFI reform for climate action, including with the G20 High Level Expert Group. We call on all shareholders and MDBs to accelerate action at the Annual Meetings in Marrakesh, to provide the basis for ambitious commitments at COP toward closing the gaps between aspiration and implementation. Three reform areas will be critical. Firstly, MDBs must release more capital for climate action in developing countries. We urge shareholders of MDBs to endorse the 2022 G20 Capital Adequacy Review recommendations to unlock much needed public finance. Secondly, MDBs must take bold steps to use public finance more effectively to catalyse much greater flows of private capital for the net zero transition. We have joined forces with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), and the World Bank to implement specific actions on private capital mobilization, including ensuring concrete recommendations from the Paris Summit are taken forward. We also welcome efforts for improving and stepping up the use of guarantees to reduce and share risks and reduce the cost of capital, including through better foreign exchange risk guarantee mechanisms. Third, MDBs need to work more collaboratively with one another as well as with other sources of public and private capital.

Finally, the world needs to develop innovative and holistic solutions that move private capital at scale towards climate action in developing countries. We need to enable the formation and deployment of new private capital to help countries take a path of private sector and technology-led growth that is consistent with the Paris Agreement. To accelerate progress, we need to reform and harmonize regulatory systems, including agreeing on definitions for transition finance and disclosure of climate-related data, and unlock voluntary carbon markets.

3: Put nature, people, lives and livelihoods at the heart of climate action

Parties and observers have been unequivocal about the urgency of investing in our people and in nature to respond to the impacts of climate change. The COP28 outcomes on adaptation and loss and damage will aim to advance real action towards building resilience and contributing to sustainable development, including by driving enhanced adaptation finance. Equally important this year will be the operationalization of the new fund and funding arrangements for Loss and Damage established in Sharm El Sheikh, to ensure support for those facing climate impacts that cannot be adapted to.

On this crucial issue of Loss and Damage, it is essential that we see an outcome at COP28 that delivers on the task Parties collectively set themselves at COP27. The Transitional Committee has just a few short months to conclude its work and deliver a strong outcome ahead of COP28. We encourage the Transitional Committee to deliver on its mandate in full and call for early pledges to the fund as we transition from commitments to real world outcomes for the climate impacted. We will also host a Loss & Damage Ministerial to take place in advance of COP28 on the sidelines of UNGA/NY Climate week.

In the broader negotiations, we will support the adoption of a comprehensive and robust framework for the Global Goal on Adaptation. It will be central to COP28’s success and a successful GST outcome. We have heard strong support behind the idea that the GGA Framework must drive deeper collective action on adaptation finance; reduce suffering for the most impacted populations and ecosystems; and provide concrete actionable input to the first GST. We will be calling on all Parties to use the two remaining Glasgow Sharm el-Sheikh (GlaSS) workshops to significantly advance negotiations to ensure a concrete outcome is reached at COP28.

Beyond the negotiations, the COP28 Action Agenda will put a human face on policy choices and focus on delivering holistic outcomes on nature, food and agriculture, health, water, and relief and recovery, recognizing that there
is no path to Paris without progress here. This central piece of our agenda will catalyze collaborative action on adaptation, preserve ecosystems, climate-proof food systems, and protect and empower the most vulnerable communities by investing in practical solutions to improve lives and livelihoods.

On the Action Agenda, in partnership with our High-Level Champion, Razan Al Mubarak, who is also President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), we will promote and platform initiatives that not only protect biodiversity and vital natural carbon sinks, but crucially champion those on the frontlines of conservation and adaption efforts, including women and Indigenous Peoples. We will endeavor to work on a “COP to COP” narrative by promoting the Kunming-Montreal global goals, of protecting 30% of land and seas by 2030, and encourage all Parties to deliver on these and align their nature and climate action for greater impact and efficiency.

We are also developing a leader-level declaration on the transformation of our food systems and agriculture, as well as the COP’s first-ever climate-health ministerial to solidify investment and policy priorities. Both political outcomes will be accompanied by initial financing packages, with a notable innovation dimension in the food and agriculture space.

Lastly, COP28 aims to put those most impacted at the heart of climate action through an explicit lens on investment and policy for communities experiencing climate-related humanitarian and security challenges.
I urge all stakeholders to support Early Warnings for All and the Risk-informed Early Action Partnership as one contribution in this space.

4: Mobilize for the most inclusive COP

Inclusion will be the foundation of our Presidency, the tool that will enable us to collectively achieve ambitious outcomes at COP28. We will continue to work in collaboration with women, Indigenous Peoples, local communities, youth, people of determination, subnational actors, and faith-based organizations to ensure their contributions throughout our programs and outcomes. I remind Parties and observers of my joint call with the High-Level Champion, Youth Climate Champion, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, and the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth to emphasize the importance of gender-balanced delegations that include youth, indigenous, and subnational representatives. We are also committed to this diversity in all COP28 workstreams and events, and I will be issuing a letter to elaborate on our practices on inclusion and request implementation support from all delegations. I also reiterate our commitment to a safe, professional, and harassment-free experience for all delegates to COP28.

Within the UNFCCC process, we look to Parties and observers to continue prioritizing progress across ACE, Gender and Means of Implementation tracks including on Science, Technology, Innovation and Capacity Building, to ensure that solutions across mitigation, adaptation, and the GST response are sustained and shared by all. Under the guidance of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change, COP28 calls for Parties and non-state actors to increase direct access to finance for Indigenous Peoples and organizations to support their stewardship and leadership on climate, nature, biodiversity and planetary health.

Building on the progress of the Youth Envoy in COP27, the COP28 Youth Climate Champion, Minister Shamma Al Mazrui has elevated meaningful youth participation through programs such as the International Youth Delegates program (IYDP), which provides the opportunity for 100 youth from small island and developing states (SIDS), least developed countries (LDCS), as well as indigenous and climate vulnerable communities, to be included in the process for the first time. This program and others will continue to ensure that the voices of youth are front and center at COP28. We therefore seek your support in ensuring we honor our commitments made in the Glasgow Work Programme and the Sharm El Sheikh Implementation Plan by continuing the Youth Climate Champion role and ensuring youth are actively included in national delegations in a meaningful way so we can continue to collectively champion the voices of young people.

To ensure that we bring together this response to the GST in an effective way, we have taken an innovative and inclusive approach to the two-week program for COP28, as the first Presidency to consult on the schedule through an open process that received over 600 submissions. The program (detailed in Annex I) highlights the sectors and topics that stakeholders repeatedly raised in our consultations, including both standard fixtures of the COP agenda and new, essential topics like health, trade, and relief, recovery, and peace. To take one example, on Gender Day - intentionally held in conjunction with Finance Day - we will bring together all stakeholders to highlight a joint commitment to a gender-just transition and the importance of direct access to climate financing for women and girls. We will also host a historic number of parliamentarians, mayors and local leaders. In this context, we are calling on Parties and observers to commit - including in NDCs and NAPs - to the multilevel partnership required for critical areas such as buildings, transport, waste, water, and energy.

With this clarity on our shared vision and destination, we also need a shared road to get there. We have set out a roadmap of key events (detailed in Annex II) where we can work together, especially to deliver an Action Agenda of super-charged solutions. This is complemented by Presidency-facilitated political processes to collectively raise ambition across the negotiations and the broader Action Agenda by the time we reach COP28.

My team and I look forward to embracing this historically urgent endeavor with you. Together, we must unite, act and deliver.

Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber

COP28 President-Designate
UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change

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About the author

Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber is the President-Designate of the upcoming COP28 and the United Arab Emirates' special envoy for climate change. He is also the Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology of the United Arab Emirates, managing director, and group CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

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