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Heat Is On UAE To Deliver At COP28

As the eighth-largest global oil producer, the UAE faces the dilemma of transitioning away from high-emission fuels while being among the highest per capita emitters globally

To achieve climate goals, nations must significantly increase their ambition levels promptly. The upcoming COP28, hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), will be crucial in addressing the challenge of balancing the speed of energy transition and economic transformation against sustainable development and alternative energy needs.

As the eighth-largest global oil producer, the UAE faces the dilemma of transitioning away from high-emission fuels while being among the highest per capita emitters globally. While hosting COP28, it remains uncertain whether the UAE, as a wealthy nation, is willing to reduce its absolute dependence on oil resources.

The host country, UAE, will play a pivotal role in addressing major tasks at COP28, including agreements on the global stocktake of climate action, consensus on the global goal of adaptation, the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund, and advancing climate finance commitments beyond 2025.

Discussions on finance may progress slowly, with the New Collective Qualified Goal of Finance under the Paris Agreement set to be finalised in 2024. The UAE, as the COP presidency holder, needs to ensure that talks extend beyond reaffirming the existing USD 100 billion pledge, as an estimated USD 4 trillion per year needs to be mobilised by 2030 to support the clean energy transition.

The Global Stocktake and the Loss and Damage Fund will test the presidency’s ability to remain neutral while adhering to the principles of the Paris Agreement, particularly concerning developing economies. The UAE’s recent participation in the G20 summit in Delhi may influence its stance, as climate change and energy transition were extensively discussed.

The G20’s recognition and support for global emission reduction targets, including a 43 percent reduction in emissions from 2019 levels by 2030, will likely influence the discussions at COP28. The G20’s endorsement of global peak emissions by 2025 and the call for scaled-up finance add complexity to the negotiations.

The first synthesis report of the technical dialogue on global stocktake revealed that the pace of global emissions falls short of desired pathways outlined in the Paris Agreement. Bridging the gap between current efforts and options for the next cycle of Nationally Determined Contributions in 2025 poses a significant challenge.

The fractured debate over future action, coupled with slow progress in reducing emissions, makes it challenging for the COP28 presidency to seek concessions on fossil fuel phaseout. The strained global energy system and costs imposed by geopolitical events add complexity to immediate scaling-down efforts.

The UAE’s potential focus on carbon capture and storage technologies may be a condition for agreeing to new global targets, raising questions about its acceptance and feasibility. Initiatives on clean technologies, such as the Green Hydrogen Innovation Centre and the Global Biofuel Alliance, could contribute to emission reduction efforts in the medium to long term.

As the host of COP28, the UAE must assure the global community of its commitment to emission cuts, leveraging its influence to achieve consensus on increased climate finance for developing economies, despite its status as an oil producer.

(Inputs from PTI)

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