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Fight climate change without slowing growth: UAE’s COP28 chief

January 31, 2023

ABU DHABI: The fight against global warming should not be at the expense of economic growth, the United Arab Emirates´ oil chief who will lead this year´s UN climate talks said on Monday.

Sultan Al Jaber, the UAE´ special envoy for climate change and CEO of oil giant ADNOC, said the energy transition needed to make the planet “wealthier and healthier”. “We need to hold back the global rise in temperatures to 1.5 degrees (Celsius), without slowing economic growth,” he told a graduation ceremony at the Mohamed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence. “We need to drive an inclusive energy transition that leaves no one behind, especially in the Global South. We need to make our planet wealthier and healthier at the same time.”

Al Jaber´s appointment as president of COP28 has been criticised by activists who said it threatens the “legitimacy” of the global forum against climate change. The minister of industry and advanced technology is a veteran of COP meetings and heads a leading renewable energy company. His appointment was welcomed by US climate envoy John Kerry. On Monday, France´s economy minister urged delegates to get behind Al Jaber and focus on “concrete decisions”.

“Don´t misunderstand the challenge of COP28,” Bruno Le Maire said in Abu Dhabi. “The challenge of COP28 is not to know who is in charge of the COP. The key challenge of the COP28 are the results, the concrete decisions.”