By Dr. Sultan Al Jaber | June 22 and 23, 2023
The world needs to take a holistic, comprehensive approach towards climate finance in order to effectively combat climate change and spur real change across the world, said Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, the COP28 President, at the at New Global Financing Pact Summit, held in Paris on 22 and 23 June, 2023.
Organised under the aegis of French President Emmanuel Macron, the Summit is aimed at addressing global challenges related to poverty, climate change and biodiversity loss by fostering cooperation among nations. The event will prioritise discussions on how to organise the necessary financing to tackle the far-reaching impacts of climate, energy, health, and economic crises, especially in vulnerable countries.
Dr. Al Jaber commenced his keynote address by warmly complimenting the French government under President Macron for renewing the focus on the need for equitable, accessible climate finance.
Communicating the UAE’s appreciation for the trust placed on it to host the upcoming COP28, Dr. Al Jaber added: “I must recognise the leadership of President Emmanuel Macron for bringing the world together again and taking the bull by the horns, pushing for a new deal to level the financial playing field.”
Speaking of how Paris brought the world together back in 2015 to outline a common vision for real climate progress, the COP28 President noted that, in the years since then, a lot of the momentum towards solving the various challenges that plague nations today has gotten lost.
“Seven years ago, it was a moment of historic unity to address a global problem that affects us all, with no exceptions,” he said. “But in the years since, it has been very unfortunate that we have seen that spirit of solidarity fall away. We have seen the gap widen between the Global North and South, particularly when it comes to climate finance.”
Despite the progress that has been made, COP28 President noted that there is still much that needs to be done in terms of organising and making available the financial resources to combat and mitigate the effects of climate change, particularly for the most vulnerable nations.
“It has been clear for some time that there is a mismatch between the size of the climate challenge and the financial resources that are desperately needed to address it,” he said, noting that the statements made by Mia Mottley, Prime Minster of Barbados, resonated with his beliefs in particular when she drew attention to the requirement for both pace and scope to address the problem.
Emphasising that the need for transformation, as stressed by Prime Minster Mottley, is key, he said: “This is a mirror image of our approach and plan at COP28: transformational progress rather than incremental steps forward.”
In the next part of his speech, Dr. Al Jaber commended the World Bank’s offer to put debt repayments on hold for countries that are currently dealing with climate emergencies, as well as the organisation’s robust plan to allow special drawing rights for vulnerable nations, both initiatives announced at the Summit by World Bank Group President Ajay Banga.
“Over the course of the summit, I must say I have seen a willingness to move beyond words and towards action,” he continued, adding: “Donor countries are finally closing in on their promise of the $100 billion in climate finance for the Global South that must be delivered this year.”
He was referring to the commitment made in 2009 at COP15 that developed countries would arrange for $100 billion in climate finance by 2020 to help developing nations fight climate change – a commitment that has not yet been fulfilled, but towards which progress is being made.
Still, he said, such measures are just “barely Band-Aids or painkillers to a problem that requires major surgery. In fact, what is truly needed is a true surgical intervention to the climate finance problem.”
The COP28 President also highlighted the sheer scale of climate finance required to combat climate change. “For countries that have done the least to cause climate change, climate finance remains unavailable, inaccessible, and unaffordable,” he emphasised. “Changing that equation requires trillions in private investment, not just billions in multilateral loans.”
“The key to attracting more private finance and capital is simply lowering the risk,” he explained. “Radically raising the level of concession and funding is one of the keys to unlocking commercial investment, but we need to bring everyone to the table across the financial community, and use every tool in the shed.”
He went on to highlight the untapped potential of capital markets to enhance the existing regulatory environment, which already allows green bonds to effectively finance large-scale infrastructure projects. This approach, he explained, would not only provide investors with reliable and sustainable returns, but also contribute to the development of innovative, eco-friendly initiatives.
“Voluntary carbon markets have the potential to be a powerful enabler in financing mitigation and adaptation efforts in emerging and developing economies,” he added. “But to maximise their value, standards must be harmonised, and transactions must be transparently monitored.”
As the UAE prepares to host COP28, Dr. Al Jaber noted that he and his team are approaching this momentous event with humility and a profound sense of responsibility, both underpinned by a key awareness of the urgency for an international consensus on climate action.
He further noted that COP28 will be conducted with a mindset that celebrates the UAE’s unwavering commitment to inclusivity, which will be its guiding principle.
If the world is to be successful in driving the much-needed transition towards a new climate positive economy, he said: “We need to integrate sustainable investing principles into mainstream finance. We need to take a comprehensive and holistic approach to a global challenge, view climate action as an opportunity, not as a burden, and act together with unity of purpose.”
“What makes COP28 significant is the fact that we want to build on all the successes of previous COPs and, in particular, the great success and the progress made at COP27, at Sharm El Sheikh in in Egypt. We must build on all of the progress made in the past,” said Dr. Al Jaber.
Having said that, he went on to note that this year was principally important because of the Global Stocktake (GST), which will be the first time when the world’s progress in the fight against climate change will be measured and assessed in a transparent manner.
The GST’s goal will be to also identify any gaps or challenges that present themselves on the path to upholding the Paris Agreement, and what opportunities exist to overcome or solve them.
Referring to the most recent report by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), Dr. Al Jaber said: “The science is clear. The world is way off track. It's been seven years [since the Paris Agreement]. We have seven more years. If we're serious and sincerely keen on keeping 1.5°C within reach, we must work in a comprehensive manner with a holistic approach to reduce emissions by 43 percent.”
“To do that, I aim to bring everyone together: those who can contribute, those who are like-minded, practical in their thinking, pragmatic and driven by results and action; those who will represent every stakeholder with a positive mindset,” said Dr. Al Jaber. He added that this includes everyone who would bring together people, organisations and stakeholders spanning governments, the private sector, NGOs, and the financial community.
“We know what we are trying to solve, and we know the gaps at hand. [To fight and overcome climate change] we must be practical and focus on the how,” he declared. “Let's translate our words into real and tangible actions. Let's work in lockstep towards our common goal.”
Concluding his keynote speech, the COP28 President said: “Climate change sees no division between North and South. It does not discriminate between peoples or countries. It is a global problem, and it requires a true global solution, a global response from everyone, working together only in unity and solidarity. If we act in true unity, we can apply pace and scope to deliver action and hope.”
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