World still needs hydrocarbons: COP28 president designate Sultan al Jaber

The world needs hydrocarbons as a bridge from the current energy system to the new one, said COP28 president designate Sultan al Jaber, in his first major public address,

“We cannot unplug the current energy system before we have built the new one,” Jaber said at India Energy Week in Bengaluru on Tuesday. He pitched for the need to invest only in the least carbon-intensive barrels and continue reducing their intensity.

Jaber’s appointment at the COP28, an annual global conference for finding climate change solutions, has been controversial since he is also the head of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), one of the world’s largest oil companies.

“A responsible and reliable supplier of energy, promoting inclusive sustainable development has been a core principle

for the UAE. And, as we prepare to host COP 28 later this year, this principle will guide our approach to seek global consensus for transformational progress- for our climate and our economies,” Jaber said.

India focus

Jaber assured all support for India in his first global engagement tour aimed at listening to various national standpoints.

“We will actively listen to and engage with the entire world. And I am delighted that the first stop on this listening tour is this great country. India is critical to the transformational progress we need.” India is the fastest-growing major economy, and will soon be the third largest in the world, he stressed, Jaber said.

He said India’s aim for 500GW of clean energy by 2030 is very ambitious, but also achievable.

Addressing a host of Asian Ministers at India Energy Week, Jaber pushed for a pro-climate, pro-growth agenda for inclusive energy transition that ‘leaves no one behind’.

In line with existing foreign policy, Jaber said UAE will keep a firm focus on Asia as well. “Despite an ongoing war, fears of recession and a world still recovering from Covid, annual global investment in clean energy exceeded 1 trillion dollars for the first time. And the trajectory is only going up. Most of this new growth will be driven by the dynamic economies of Asia,” he said.

Global South

Jaber stressed that UAE would push to uphold the rights of the Global South, a term referring to technically and socially less-developed countries, basically located in Africa and Asia.. “To succeed, when the debate around climate change only seems to be getting more divisive, we must act in solidarity. We must empower the Global South, where almost 800 million people have no electricity, in an inclusive energy transition.

We must eliminate energy poverty, while keeping 1.5 alive. And we need to move from talking about goals, to getting the job done,” he said.

He also argued that renewables alone are not enough, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors. “Without a breakthrough in battery storage, we must invest heavily in carbon capture, nuclear power and the hydrogen value chain,” he said.

Voicing a key request from developing and underdeveloped nations, Jaber said the world must expedite reform of international financial institutions and multilateral development banks.

“We need to get more concessional finance to vulnerable communities around the world to lower risk, attract more private

finance and turn billions into trillions,” he said.

Capital is also key to fully operationalize the loss and damage fund and to double adaptation finance in communities that are most exposed to the effects of climate change, but have done the least to cause it.

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