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‘Those who pledged, must act,’ says Al Jaber as Cop28 begins

Cop28 president Sultan Al Jaber talks to the press at the Cop28 opening day Media Majlis Wam
Cop28 president Sultan Al Jaber talks to the press at the Cop28 opening day Media Majlis
  • 70,000 delegates expected
  • ‘Oil deal’ accusations denied
  • Hope for ‘extraordinary outcome’

The United Nations’ Cop28 – the world’s biggest climate change conference – started today, with host country the UAE reiterating calls to accelerate climate action.

Cop28 president Sultan Al Jaber rejected claims the UAE intended to use the event to strike commercial oil and gas deals. 

The BBC and UK-based Centre for Climate Reporting reported earlier this week that leaked documents revealed Al Jaber – who is also the chief executive of UAE state oil company Adnoc – planned to discuss fossil fuel deals with 15 countries at the summit.

“These allegations are false, not true, incorrect, and are not accurate. It is an attempt to undermine the work of the Cop28 presidency,” Al Jaber told a news conference in Dubai on Wednesday. 

“Let me ask you a question: do you think the UAE or myself will need the Cop or Cop presidency to go and establish business deals or commercial relationships?”

“I promise you, never ever did I see these talking points that they refer (to), or that I ever even used such talking points in my discussions,” Al Jaber added.

At a majlis on Wednesday to mark the opening of the event, Al Jaber emphasised the key aim of this year’s Cop – to keep the 1.5 degree Celsius maximum global warming target within reach, as set by the 2015 Paris Agreement – and urged nations to unite in this goal. 

“We need to reduce the gap between ambition and action,” he said. “Those who promised, must deliver. Those who pledged, must act.”

He added: “We feel that the prospects of an extraordinary outcome are at hand…and we will step up to deliver it.”

This year’s Cop is especially significant as it marks the first five-yearly evaluation of nations’ emissions-cutting progress against Paris Agreement goals, called a Global Stocktake.

Other critical tasks include setting up the loss and damage fund to help vulnerable countries recover from climate-related damage and upwardly revising the pledge made by developed countries at Cop26 to double finance for climate-vulnerable countries by 2025. 

The two-week summit at Dubai’s Expo City is expected to draw more than 70,000 delegates, including heads of state and world leaders, non-governmental organisations, companies and youth groups.

The provisional list of high-level speakers includes Israeli president Isaac Herzog, as well as Saudi Arabia’s prime minister Prince Salman Al Saud, UK prime minister Rishi Sunak, and many others.

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