Hosts Want UN Climate Talks to Deliver 06/03 07:56

Hosts Want UN Climate Talks to Deliver 06/03 07:56

   A senior United Arab Emirates official says the Gulf nation wants the U.N. 
climate summit it's hosting later this year to deliver "game-changing results" 
for international efforts to curb global warming, but doing so will require 
having the fossil fuel industry at the table.

   BERLIN (AP) -- A senior United Arab Emirates official says the Gulf nation 
wants the U.N. climate summit it's hosting later this year to deliver 
"game-changing results" for international efforts to curb global warming, but 
doing so will require having the fossil fuel industry at the table.

   Environmental campaigners have slammed the presence of oil and gas lobbyists 
at previous rounds of talks, warning that their interests are opposed to the 
goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions -- caused to a large degree by the 
burning of fossil fuels. Last month scores of U.S. and European lawmakers 
called for the summit's designated chair, Sultan al-Jaber, to be replaced over 
his links to the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

   The issue complicates already-delicate negotiations ahead of the Nov. 30 - 
Dec. 12 meeting in Dubai, known as COP28. Preliminary talks starting next week 
in Bonn, Germany, will show whether the incoming UAE presidency can overcome 
skepticism among parties and civil society groups about its ability to shepherd 
almost 200 nations toward a landmark deal.

   "Our leadership have been very clear to me and our team and our president 
that they don't want just another COP that's incremental," said Majid 
al-Suwaidi, who as director-general of the summit plays a key role in the 
diplomatic negotiations. "They want a COP that is going to deliver real, big, 
game-changing results because they see, just like all of us, that we're not on 
track to achieve the goals of Paris."

   Governments agreed eight years ago in the French capital to limit global 
warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) -- ideally no more than 1.5C 
(2.7F). With average global temperatures already about 1.2C (2.2F) above 
pre-industrial levels, experts say the window to meet the more ambitious target 
is closing fast and even the less stringent goal would be missed if emissions 
aren't slashed sharply soon.

   "We need to have everybody at the table discussing with us about how to 
deliver that," al-Suwaidi told The Associated Press in an interview Friday.

   "We need to have oil and gas, we need to have industry, we need to have 
aviation, we need to have shipping, we need to have all the hard to abate 
sectors," he said, adding: "We need all those who can to deliver what they can, 
regardless of who they are."

   Al-Suwaidi pushed back against the idea that the fossil fuel industry would 
undermine meaningful talks on emissions cuts the way they have done in the past 
through disinformation campaigns and keeping quiet their own knowledge about 
climate change.

   "There's no doubt in my mind that the position of the sector has completely 
changed and that they are engaging with us in an active conversation," he said.

   Asked whether the talks might consider a phaseout of fossil fuels, proposed 
last year by nations most vulnerable to climate change, al-Suwaidi said the 
presidency wouldn't preclude such conversations.

   "We welcome any kind of discussion," the UAE's former ambassador to Spain 
said. "But the parties are the ones who will decide what that discussion is and 
where we land."

   So far, the summit's designated chair al-Jaber has emphasized the need to 
cut emissions, rather than end fossil fuel use itself. It's prompted fears that 
he might seek loopholes for untested carbon-capture technologies and so-called 
offsets -- both aimed at reducing current levels of carbon dioxide in the air 
-- that experts say distract from the need to end the release of greenhouse 

   A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change earlier this year 
called for a nearly two-thirds cut in carbon emissions by 2035, warning that 
failure to do so greatly increases the risk of droughts, flooding, sea-level 
rise and other short- and long-term disasters.

   Al-Suwaidi, who also has a background in the oil and gas sector, said the 
UAE leadership is acutely aware of the existential threat global warming poses 
-- including to their own sun-rich but water-poor nation -- and is committed to 
shifting from fossil fuels toward renewable energy such as wind and solar.

   "We want to be part of this new economy," he said. "We're a country that's 
running head first into this future."

   Al-Suwaidi said agreeing a global goal for ramping up renewable energy in 
Dubai could send a positive message to those anxious about the transformation 
required to stop climate change.

   "Rather than talking about what we're stopping people from doing, let's talk 
about how we're helping them to take up solutions ... that are going to help us 
to address the emissions problem we have," he said.

   The talks in Dubai will also see countries conduct the first 'global 
stocktake' of efforts to tackle climate change since Paris in 2015. The results 
are meant to inform a new round of commitments by nations to cut emissions and 
address the impacts of global warming.

   Poor nations are also demanding rich countries make good on pledges for vast 
financial support, an issue that has often caused major disagreements at past 

   "We need the developing world to leapfrog into this new climate system and 
we need to support that transition for them," said al-Suwaidi. "Finance is 
going to be really fundamental at COP28."

   This will require rich countries, including the Group of Seven major 
economies, who are historically responsible for a large chunk of global 
emissions, to step up, he said.

   "They have the technology. They have the know-how. They have the financial 
ability. We need them to take that leadership role and show us seriousness 
about addressing this challenge."

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