A top official from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) called on the international community to do more to embrace renewable energy at a conference on Monday, advocating an annual cut of 7% in emissions, while eliminating all emissions of methane.
“Houston, we have a problem and failure is not an option,” said UAE Industry and Advanced Technology Minister Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, who will lead international climate talks later this year as president-designate of the COP28 climate summit.
Jaber spoke at CERAWeek in the southern US city of Houston. The event was held by the American financial information giant S&P Global, with hundreds of attendees from the energy sector.
Jaber is a major figure in the UAE’s energy sector and also heads the Emirati renewable energy firm Masdar and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC).
The UAE senior official said that the oil and gas sectors need to “do more” to promote the use of renewable energy.
“The oil and gas sector needs to up its game,” said Jaber, adding that they have a “vital role to play in decarbonizing customers and net zero.”
Jaber specifically talked about the importance of carbon capture and hydrogen energy technology.
“We must … equip facilities with carbon capture and storage,” he said. “Now is the time to commercialize carbon capture and take it to scale in all industries.”
On hydrogen as an energy source, Jaber noted that the UAE extends an “open invitation to those who want to translate this hydrogen dream into reality.”
The UAE envoy emphasized electricity, cement, steel and aluminum as targets for cleanup, and called for greater investment to speed the transition to cleaner industries.
“According to the IEA, in 2022, the world invested $1.4 trillion in the energy transition,” he said. “We need over three times that amount.”
And he said that investment must flow to the developing world.
“Only 15% of clean tech investment reaches developing economies in the global south, and that is where 80% of the population live,” he stressed.
Why it matters: Jaber’s comments make sense in the context of the UAE’s entry strategy. Oil and especially natural gas remain a major part of the Emirati economy, but the country is heavily investing in renewable and green energy technology at the same time.
Most recently, ADNOC announced in January a carbon capture initiative to inject carbon into rocks.
In December, the Emirati sustainability firm BEEAH announced plans to build a waste-to-hydrogen facility.
Though Jaber used his time at CERAWeek to discuss the importance of renewable energy, in the past he has touted the continued importance of traditional energy sources. In October, Jaber warned against underinvestment in oil and gas.
“Now is not the time to point out that the longer-term underinvestment in oil and gas has made a difficult situation even worse,” he said at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference.
What's next: The UAE will host the United Nations' annual climate change conference, COP28, in November of this year.