Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 August 2020

Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting: Updates as leaders spurred to action

Follow the latest updates as world leaders gather to demand a rapid transition to the green economy

The UN's chief diplomat issued a call to action on climate change in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, urging leaders to tackle the unfolding climate crisis.

Some 1,700 ministers, business leaders and experts heard UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres call for the goals set by the 2015 Paris Agreement to be implemented.

The two-day summit will lay the ground for the UN's climate summit in September.

Here you will find the latest updates from the meetings in Abu Dhabi.

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Guterres: We need a green economy, not a grey economy

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, speaks at the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting. Victor Besa / The National 
António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations speaks at the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting at the Emirates Palace. Victor Besa/The National

Climate change is currently winning our battle against it, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned.

"Climate action is happening now ... [and] it is outpacing our efforts to address it," he said.

The effects of the problem are outstripping the worst-case scenario predictions, he added, criticising lacklustre action on behalf of many nations.

"Many countries are not keeping pace with their promises under the Paris Climate Agreement.

"We are in the battle for our lives, but it is a battle we can win," Mr Guterres said, pointing to progress in energy diversity. He said he is looking forward to seeing the UAE's solar panel farms later.

Mr Guterres called for greater carbon taxes, cease building power plants and a change in the way the world does business.

"We need a green economy, not a grey economy," he said. He pointed to the UAE's ambitious plans as an example of how countries can develop in an environmentally friendly way.

Read John Dennehy's full report here

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Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed: UAE and UN have a shared vision

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces met UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Sunday.

Sheikh Mohamed said there is a "shared vision for a secure world" in a post on Twitter, pledging the UAE's support for efforts to reduce the effects of climate change.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi said he reviewed the results of the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting.

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UAE Environment Minister: Climate change knows no borders and neither should we

Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment speaks at the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting. Victor Besa/The National
Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment speaks at the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting. Victor Besa/The National

Action on climate change should not be seen as a challenge but a great opportunity, Minister of Climate Change and Environment Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi said at the opening of the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting on Sunday.

"This is not a business as usual event," Dr Thani said, adding that climate change is "the best investment case we have ever known."

Speaking to The National, Dr Thani said Abu Dhabi's hosting of the meeting sends a strong message, arguing the UAE should be proud to say they are moving beyond hydrocarbons.

"Sometimes we are too shy to say we are diversifying the energy mix. We have to capitalise on hydrocarbons and also diversify. There is a certain time when it will be gone and we don’t want to keep delaying this until it is too late," he said.

During his opening address, Dr Thani outlined the UAE's plans to develop technology to reduce the cost of solar energy and invest in sustainable development. He also announced a 2-gigawatt solar energy project in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi.

"Climate change knows no borders and neither should we," the UAE minister said, before leaving the stage.

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Youth at forefront of climate discussion

Young people are essential to the climate change process at the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting, with a diverse group of young leaders making their voice heard.

The two-day meeting opened with a group discussion in which 30 young leaders quizzed UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on how young voices – those who will be most affected by climate change – can contribute to solving the crisis.

Beyond the opening discussion, young people are involved in workstreams, contributing as co-chairs and co-leaders of roundtable discussions.

"This is an unprecedented type of model where the youth are engaged with decision makers and being at the same table as every decision maker on every topic, ranging from health to climate change and environmental education," Shamma Al Mazrui, the Minister of State for Youth Affairs told The National.

There has been an upswell of youth engagement on climate change in 2019, with the Fridays for the Future movement spreading across the world.

Mr Guterres referenced this movement and its charismatic leader in his opening remarks.

"Last month, I met Greta Thunberg, a young advocate for climate action. She is part of a growing wave of young people who have lost patience with the slow pace of progress from their leaders," he said, telling delegates to the meeting that they "have the power and the responsibility to build the world young people want and deserve."

Reporting by Balquees Basalom

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Rory Stewart represents the UK in Abu Dhabi

Rory Stewart, a British politician who experienced a swell of grassroots support for his campaign to be leader of the British Conservative Party, is in Abu Dhabi to represent the UK at Sunday's meeting.

"Climate change is likely to drive 100 million more people into poverty by 2030. We must support the poorest countries in particular in their response," he said.

Mr Stewart is the Secretary of State for International Development and has experience in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Addressing the forum, Mr Stewart pointed to the UK's commitment to be net carbon neutral by 2050, and his department, DfID, to make sure all of their projects are compatible with the commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement.

But Mr Stewart also spoke of the challenges he has faced when advocating for greener politics.

"None of this [climate] strategy will make any sense without the political will. And as an ex environment minister myself, I experienced daily the real conflicts, the real strains involved, in dealing, for example, with flooding," he said.

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Comment: 'The situation is urgent,' climate expert Peter Graham writes

Sunday's meeting is "critical milestone in the global struggle against climate change", Peter Graham, managing director of think tank Climate Advisers, writes in The National.

Mr Graham warns that time is running out to avoid permanent damage to our environment and many countries are not on course to meet their commitments.

The world will be at least three degrees warmer by the end of the century, he warns, adding that there has not been sufficient investment to help developing countries reduce their emissions.

Read the full article here

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Guterres calls for rapid transition to green economy

Antonio Guterres said that a rapid transition to the green economy was necessary to reap its benefits.

Tweeting from the G20, the day before he will speak in Abu Dhabi, he said: "People around the world are demanding immediate Climate Action and inclusive development."

The UN Secretary-General is expected to bring this message to Abu Dhabi.

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Moving on from the Paris Agreement

Sunday's meeting will look to hold signatories to the 2015 Paris Agreement, which seeks to keep the rise in global temperature below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels this century, aiming for a more ambitious goal of 1.5-degree increases.

Achim Steiner, the administrator of the UN Development Programme, said that despite the commitments made in Paris, it is hard to translate pledges into action.

“Think back to 2015 [Paris deal] – people pledged to act but we are still facing how we transform our economies, energies,” he said. “It is a daunting task but we are seeing growing commitment but also some are arguing we have more time. This is the battle of all countries together.”

“September['s conference] is an appeal for leadership. Leaders must act. When the world’s scientists tell there is a window of ten to 15 years within which to contain emissions – that is extremely serious. Once you cross that line, there is nothing you can do for 100 years,” he said.

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Agenda for the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting

Taking place over two days, some 1,700 government ministers, climate experts and business leaders will gather in Abu Dhabi to discuss a global response to climate change.

Here is the agenda for Sunday:

10:30-11:30 Al Wathba Plenary

The opening session will include welcome remarks by the UAE and Mr Guterres. Then, youth delegates will interview the Secretary-General, moderated by the Minister of State for Youth Affairs Shamma Al Mazrui and the Secretary-General's Envoy for Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake.

11:30-13:00 Leaders Roundtable on Raising Ambition

A discussion on increasing ambition and accelerating action of the UN Climate Action Summit. The meeting will be an opportunity to hear from ministers and leaders on their progress in adopting ambitious policies.

14:30-16:00 Leaders Roundtable on NDCs Enhancement

An opportunity to analyze the lessons learnt from the first round of INDCs/NDCs. The roundtable will be chaired by COP 25 President, Carolina Schmidt and UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.

Leaders Roundtable on Energy Transition

A discussion of what is needed to transition to clean energy. It will be chaired by Minister of Climate Change and Environment Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi and Environment SE4All CEO Rachel Kyte

Updated: June 30, 2019 06:01 PM

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