REYKJAVIK, Iceland, 20th October, 2023 (WAM) — Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and COP28 President, delivered a keynote address at the opening session of the 2023 Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland, highlighting the dangerous impact of climate change on fragile, Arctic ecosystems and calling on nations to support the COP28 Action Agenda to keep the Paris Agreement goals within reach.
“For the last 10 years, the Arctic Circle has been leading the conversation around the impact of the climate on fragile Arctic ecosystems,” Dr. Al Jaber told delegates. “This group has alerted the world to the fact that the Arctic is warming around four times faster than the rest of the planet.”
The Arctic Circle Assembly is the largest annual international gathering on the Arctic with over 2,000 attendees from more than 60 countries, including the Chairman of the Arctic Circle, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson; the Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir; Denmark’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, policymakers from other nations, indigenous leaders, scientists, activists and representatives from business, civil society, and other stakeholders. The event will feature more than 700 speakers and 200 sessions, with a major focus on climate change and energy security.
“The world must cut 22 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions in the next seven years to keep 1.5°C in reach,” Dr. Al Jaber declared. “This is a massive task that will require nothing short of global unity.”
The COP28 Action Agenda provides “a practical plan of action to transform the goals of Paris into a realistic roadmap that the whole world can follow,” Dr. Al Jaber said. This roadmap is centred on our key pillars: fast-tracking the energy transition, fixing climate finance, focusing on people, lives, and livelihoods, and underpinning everything with full inclusivity. “
On fast-tracking the energy transition, Dr. Al Jaber said it must be fair, well managed and responsible that leaves no one behind.
COP28 has set a global goal of tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030.
“We are making progress,” Dr. Al Jaber said, “85 percent of the world’s economies have endorsed our goal of tripling renewable energy and doubling energy efficiency by 2030.”
Dr. Al Jaber said his Presidency was engaging with oil and gas companies to eliminate methane emissions by 2030 and align around Net Zero by 2050. He was also in discussions with heavy emitting sectors “to accelerate their transition timelines and decarbonise the energies they use today.”
The COP28 President also called for a “massive scale-up in climate finance,” including delivering on the US$100 billion pledge to developing nations, recharging the Green Climate Fund, doubling adaptation finance and operationalising loss and damage funds. He also stressed the importance of multilateral development bank reform to make climate finance more available, accessible, and affordable and for market mechanisms to incentivise more private-sector finance.
“At the heart of all our efforts on climate action is our collective goal of protecting people, lives, and livelihoods,” said Dr. Al Jaber “That’s why we have put health, food and nature at the forefront of the COP28 agenda.”
“We are also urging all countries to sign the COP28 Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action and the first ever Climate and Health Declaration, focused on how we can feed a growing population without overheating our planet,” added Dr. Al Jaber.
As the final pillar of the COP28 Action Agenda, Dr. Al Jaber insisted the entire agenda be underpinned by full inclusivity, emphasising that “COP28 will welcome all voices, representing all points of view.”
“From every region of the world. From the Arctic to Asia, from Africa to the Americas, this COP must deliver for everyone, everywhere,” Dr. Al Jaber told delegates, “I want COP28 to be a platform that rises above divisions and reminds the world that real progress is only possible through partnership.”
During the speech, Dr. Sultan praised Iceland for “pioneering geothermal energy to build the world’s largest direct air capture facility in the world.”