ABU DHABI, 4th November, 2023 (WAM) – Arab countries plan to launch new climate initiatives and complete a number of previously announced initiatives at the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), which provides a major opportunity for these nations to enhance their efforts and actively participate in finding fair solutions to the challenges of climate change.
Arab countries support the implementation of the Paris Agreement, which was adopted at COP21, to achieve net-zero emissions, sustainable economic development, and addressing climate change to balance economic growth and environmental protection.
Although the contribution of Arab countries to carbon emissions is limited, the Arab region is one of the most affected by climate change, according to the Abu Dhabi-based Arab Monetary Fund (AMF).
With the UAE hosting COP28 from November 30 to December 12, 2023, Arab countries account for 18% of all climate summits, with 5 out of 28 summits hosted by Arab countries. Morocco was the first Arab country to host a COP summit (COP7) in 2001, followed by Qatar (COP18) in 2012, Morocco (COP22) in 2016, and Egypt (COP27) in November 2022.
The 22 Arab countries are one of the main negotiating groups in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The group holds a meeting before each UN climate summit, according to the report “Negotiations of Arab Countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change” by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation Middle East and North Africa.
The report states that the Arab Group meets daily at COP to develop strategies for their positions. All members of the Arab Group are also part of other groups, such as the African Group and the Group of 77 and China.
Arab countries are increasingly adopting renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, to diversify their energy mix and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They have also expanded their role in compensatory measures, such as tree planting, carbon capture technologies, and carbon dioxide recycling in the context of the circular economy, according to the Arab Monetary Fund report “A vision on the position towards climate change and policy options – the road to “COP28”.
The report explains that rising temperatures, extreme weather events, and declining rainfall, with their significant impact on desertification, declining food security, and forced displacement, are just examples of the risks posed by climate change. It points to the growing trend of most Arab countries to integrate sustainability into their policies and practices in an effort to balance economic growth and environmental protection for the benefit of the current and future generations.
At COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, the vast majority of members of the Arab Coordination Group (ACG) pledged to provide joint funding by 2030 in an accumulated amount of $24 billion to address the global climate crisis. The group includes the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the Arab Gulf Development Programme, the Arab Monetary Fund, the Iraqi Fund for External Development, the Islamic Development Bank, the Kuwait Fund for Economic Development, the OPEC Fund for International Development, the Qatar Development Fund, and the Saudi Development Fund.
Green Middle East
Arab cooperation in the field of climate is growing through several initiatives, the most prominent of which is the “Green Middle East” initiative to mitigate the effects of climate change on the Middle East region. The initiative aims to support the region’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions by 10% of global contributions, and to reduce carbon emissions from oil production in the region by more than 60%.
The initiative aims to plant 50 billion trees in the Middle East region, which is equivalent to 5% of the global afforestation target and contributes to reducing carbon emissions around the world by 2.5%.
The United Arab Emirates has launched dozens of national and regional initiatives in sectors such as “space, environment, health, and energy” to promote sustainable growth and achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The UAE is also working to consolidate its leading role in activating climate action at the regional and global levels, by expanding its contributions to supporting renewable energy goals in Arab countries, and disseminating effective solutions to address global climate change. It has supported the implementation of many infrastructure and clean energy projects worldwide, investing in renewable energy projects in 70 countries with a total value of nearly $16.8 billion.
During COP27, the UAE and Egypt signed an agreement to develop a 10-gigawatt onshore wind power project in Egypt, which is one of the largest wind power projects in the world.
Saudi Green Initiative
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced in August last year the launch of the third edition of the “Saudi Green” forum on December 4 as part of COP28, in a move that demonstrates the Kingdom’s commitment and ongoing efforts to support the global climate action agenda and take concrete measures to address environmental challenges.
Jordan intends to announce the framework for the Climate-Linked Refugees initiative (Climate/Refugee Nexus) during COP28, after it is completed in the coming period in coordination with the relevant authorities, according to the Ministry of Environment’s announcement in August last year. Jordan referred during its participation in COP27 to the Climate/Refugee Nexus initiative to give priority to support to host countries that bear the burden of climate change, calling on the participating countries in the conference to ratify it.
Egypt launched a number of national, African, and regional initiatives to promote climate action during COP27 in November last year, including the Decent Life Initiative for a Climate Resilient Africa by 2030, which aims to improve the quality of life for all Africans in a changing climate by 2030, Friends of Greening National Investment Plans in Africa and developing countries initiative, aims to shape the planning and design process of economic policies to take into account the impact of climate change, quantify mitigation and adaptation efforts, and identify gaps and needed support in the countries involved, and Solid Waste Management Initiative for Africa 50 by 2050, which aims to recycle 50% of the continent’s waste by 2050 by improving waste collection and management systems, and promoting recycling and composting in 50 African countries.
During COP22, which was held in Marrakech in 2016, Morocco launched the “Sustainable Oasis” initiative, intending to recognise, preserve, and socially and solidarity developing oases as models for adapting to climate change. The initiative targeted the recognition, preservation, and social and solidarity development of oases as models for adapting to climate change.
Arab Youth Centre
In line with the growing global interest in the role of youth in community efforts to address the challenges of climate change and its consideration as a key pillar in the events of the United Nations Climate Change Conferences (COP), the Arab Youth Centre launched in August 2021 the Arab Youth Council for Climate Change as a regional platform that enhances the interaction of Arab youth with environmental issues, supports Arab strategies related to the environment and climate change, and contributes to finding youth opinion leaders and innovators in the field of climate action to coincide with the UAE’s hosting of COP28.
The council establishes a set of strategic objectives. These include empowering Arab youth with essential skills to address climate challenges, advocating for their representation in both Arab and international environmental forums, supporting Arab nations in bolstering their climate efforts, presenting strategic recommendations to decision-makers in the Arab world, proposing effective solutions through partnerships with both the public and private sectors, and promoting investment in start-ups and small-scale projects focused on environmental protection, climate resilience, and achieving sustainability.