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The UAE Consensus: A Win-Win for All

By Mohamed Jalal Alrayssi – Director-General of WAM

ABU DHABI: Over 30 years ago, world leaders in Rio de Janeiro sensed the danger facing humanity from the climate crisis. But the sense of danger was not enough at that time, as the Earth Summit, for which they chose an emotional title, was devoid of any commitments and was dominated by multiple wills and divergent interests.

However, the good thing was the agreement on the periodicity of holding the summit under the banner of the United Nations.

Since then and as past COP editions laid important groundwork, COP28 stands as a watershed moment in the fight against climate change. For the first time in around three decades, the conference yielded concrete and realistic commitments from nations around the world. This momentous achievement reflects the unwavering commitment of the COP28 Presidency to inclusivity and ensuring that everyone is heard, and all views are considered.

This is the first time world leaders, international and non-governmental organisations, and business leaders agree on clear and specific outlines to save the planet after marathon discussions that needed to go into overtime. Upon ending, the discussions gave birth to ‘The UAE Consensus’, a historic set of measures outlining a solid plan to keep global temperatures below 1.5°C, which has been described as a victory for multilateralism and climate diplomacy with all countries agreeing on this shared target in a world first.

Solid Commitments

UAE's COP28 scored an early win on the global event’s first day when nations agreed to put into operation the loss and damage fund and triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030. The landmark deal is set to help the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries pay for the irreversible impacts of climate disaster.

On the second day, President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan announced the launch of ALTÉRRA, a new investment platform aimed at driving private capital towards climate investments, and on improving access to climate finance in emerging markets, with a particular focus on the Global South. The new platform is the largest investment vehicle for climate change action. It aims to mobilise $250 billion globally by 2030.

Until December 11, COP28 has mobilised over $83 billion in funding, setting the pace for a new era in climate action. These include the first-ever declarations on food systems transformation and health, plus declarations on renewable energy and efficiency, as well as initiatives to decarbonise heavy-emitting industries. Eleven pledges and declarations have been launched and received historic support.

These commitments are characterised by their comprehensiveness and for the first time include food systems, health, renewable energy, and carbon removal.

Shared Commitment Clear Path Forward

COP28 served as a powerful testament to the world's collective commitment to tackling the climate crisis. Through collaboration and shared responsibility, a previously unclear path forward has been illuminated. All nations and peoples have been called upon to do their part in ensuring that the critical goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius remains within reach.

To bridge the gap between ambition and reality, COP28 engaged all stakeholders in the negotiations, rebuilding trust within a framework of transparency, clarity, and fairness.

A Pragmatic Approach

COP28 embraced a pragmatic approach, prioritising effective and robust policies that achieve carbon neutrality and zero emissions while simultaneously fostering economic growth. This recognises that climate action drives growth and prosperity, and conversely, economic prosperity enables further investment in achieving net-zero emissions.

A Decisive Decade

Despite diverse international perspectives and visions on achieving the UN's carbon neutrality goal and compensating developing nations, COP28's Presidency successfully delivered a clear message: “The current decade is critical for achieving climate objectives. We must overcome existing obstacles and shift from discussions to concrete action, particularly in mitigation, adaptation, climate finance, and addressing loss and damage.”

The urgency of reaching a just and equitable agreement was consistently emphasised. There was no room for failure or delay; decisive action is essential!

Business Leaders

COP28 embraced inclusivity, bringing together nations, international and non-governmental organisations, and recognising the vital role of business leaders and energy stakeholders. By including these crucial actors, who represent both the challenge and the solution, COP28 established itself as the most inclusive and impactful climate conference to date.

Health, Legislation Religions

For the first time, COP28 officially included health, international parliamentarians, and religious representatives. Health took centre stage, with dedicated discussions and collaborations. Additionally, the Inter-Parliamentary Union held its meetings concurrently and on-site, highlighting the shared responsibility between the executive and legislative branches in tackling climate change.

Post-COP

The landscape after COP28 is set to shift dramatically. Notably, a historic climate commitment that recently emerged from China and the United States, to reduce methane and other non-carbon dioxide gases across their entire economies marks a significant step forward in tackling global emissions. “The consensus reached between the US and China is a significant moment ahead of COP28,” said the COP28 President. “It clearly signals that despite global challenges, COP28's call for climate action is uniting parties and raising ambition.”

COP28 has set a new standard for successful climate conferences to come. Leveraging the UAE's expertise and strong international relationships, the event provided an exceptional experience, praised by participants as the most inclusive and impactful to date. This success is a crucial turning point in our collective fight against climate change, signalling a renewed sense of hope and momentum for our planet's future.

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