DUBAI: At a press conference on Monday, Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and COP28 President, joined by IPCC Chair Jim Skea, delivered remarks recapping wins from the first four days of the now-running global event.

Dr. Al Jaber started his speech by affirming that everything COP28 Presidency has been working on, and continues to work on, is centred around the science.

“The North Star of the COP28 Presidency is to keep 1.5 ºC within reach. The science says that in order to meet this goal, the world must get to net zero emissions by 2050, and reduce emissions by 43 percent by 2030," the COP28 President explained.

Speaking about the financial pledges and contributions secured so far since the start of COP28, Dr. Al Jaber said, "COP28 mobilised over US$57 billion in the first four days to support priorities across the global climate agenda, setting the pace for a new era in climate action. Eight new declarations have been announced that will help transform every major system of the global economy, including the first ever declarations on food systems transformation and health. Major declarations were also made on renewable energy and efficiency, as well as initiatives to decarbonise heavy emitting industries."

He continued by affirming that the COP28 Presidency is the first to actively call on parties to come forward with language on all fossil fuels for the negotiated text.

The full remarks of Dr. Al Jaber during the press conference run as follows:

"Thank you all for being here and being physically present. I thank those also who are joining us online. I hope that all of you who are here in person have enjoyed and continue to enjoy their engagements and their stay in the United Arab Emirates, and I hope that my team have been engaging and have been supporting you by providing you with all the necessary information or documents whenever you asked, and I hope that my team is also keeping you updated in a timely fashion with the progress that is being made on the ground.

Allow me to use this opportunity to bring everyone up to speed on what has been achieved thus far, and in particular in the past three and a half days of COP28. And before I begin, let's remember why we're all here.

We're all here because we made a very clear call to action, and we've been very upfront about it. And we said clearly and repeatedly that the UAE takes this task with humility, responsibility, and we fully understand the urgency behind this matter. And we're here because we very much believe and respect the science.

43 percent of global emissions must be reduced by 2030. That is 22 Gigatonnes by 2030, and we need to make that happen to keep 1.5 within reach. And I have been crystal clear on the fact that that is a critical success factor if we want to keep 1.5 within reach. Let me say from the outset that everything this Presidency has been working on, and continues to work on, is focused on and centred around the science.

And I have been crystal clear on that point. Every opportunity I had with many around the world and in all of my public engagements, I have always been very clear on the fact that we are making sure that everything we do is centred around the science. I am approaching the task, myself and my team at the Presidency, with full understanding of what is at stake. We did not in any way underestimate or undermine the task at hand. We understand fully the urgency, and we understand the responsibility that we have taken on board.

In the first four days, I believe we have already set a high bar for delivery and there is a real sense of momentum, traction, positivity, and excitement. I also can tell you that there is real hope out there, across the site and across everyone I came across. There is real hope and optimism that this is a major inflection point, and we cannot miss the opportunity. This is our opportunity to deliver a real, tangible paradigm shift that will course-correct and put us on the right track of keeping 1.5 within reach.

In fact, I must say, a special thing is happening here at COP28. A special thing is actually happening here. We voted on and supported and adopted the agenda in the first hour of the first day of COP. In the 12 COPs I have personally participated in, and I'm sure in this room there are people who participated in many more than only 12 COPs, never ever did we see the agenda get adopted on day one, let alone the first hour.

Bodies then came together on the first day to make a historic decision. That's history. In fact, it's a breakthrough agreement on Loss and Damage. And we didn't only operationalise it, but we began filling it. That's what I have been repeatedly saying. Our task is not only to operationalise it and establish or create an empty bank account. No, we made a promise. We want to operationalise it, and we want to agree on the funding arrangements and start filling it. And that's exactly what happened. And again, that's the first time in any COP on day one such a decision gets adopted.

This is historic. These are success stories. No one can deny this. It is also worth reminding everyone that the loss and damage was in real danger of not happening at all until we made a bold call, and we requested to convene a special session in Abu Dhabi to get it over the line. And this happened right after the Pre-COP at the beginning of November. TC5 was never part of the agenda or part of the plan, but we took that bold decision to ensure that we give it our best shot, and we utilise and capitalise on our abilities, expertise, network, partners, and relationships to get it over the line.

And yes, we got it over the line with the help and support of all parties. We also brought together the U.S. and China in an unprecedented commitment to an economy-wide reduction of methane and other non-CO2 gases. These gases are over 80 times more damaging than CO2. Tackling methane will have a massive near-term impact on keeping 1.5 within reach, and that's why I am putting it at the top of my agenda. In fact, it has been one of my top priorities as the COP President, and we made it a very high and top priority for everyone. And that's why we were able to make progress.

I am pleased to say that we have also mobilised over US$57 billion in new pledges and commitments only in the first four days: US$30 billion in a new custom-tailored UAE catalytic fund that is 100 percent focused on solutions and bridging gaps to climate change; US$725 million for Loss and Damage; US$9 billion annually announced by the World Bank; over US$3 billion for the Green Climate Fund; US$2.7 billion for health; US$2.6 billion for nature; US$1.2 billion for relief, recovery, and peace; US$2.5 billion for renewable energy; and US$1.2 billion for methane reduction.

On top of that, parties have rallied around a number of pledges and declarations that get the world moving in the right direction. That's the course of action we're talking about. That is us nurturing a new culture and a new DNA that is centred around making things happen. It's the action agenda that we have adopted since day one. It's the delivery, it's the implementation. It's the fact that we have been recognising the efforts and the progress made over the years and our intent, genuine and sincere intent, to take that responsibility and attempt to translate all this great progress to real actions. And that's what we try to bring to the table.

Eight new declarations have been announced, and these declarations are designed to help transform every major sector of the global economy. The Global Decarbonization Accelerator, bringing together more countries and more companies around net zero than ever before. Again, that has never, ever happened before. This is all aimed at decarbonising the supply and demand. And that's, again, a unique approach. That's a very unique model – the integration between supply and demand of the energy system. At the same time, 55 zero oil companies, oil and gas companies are aiming for zero methane emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050. This is the first time ever.

Plus, a global pledge to deliver new energy and energy efficiency. And I am especially proud that we have delivered the first ever declarations on health and food systems. These have been two massive priorities for our COP Presidency agenda. Three additional declarations will be announced in the next few days on hydrogen, cooling, and gender. The number of countries supporting these declarations and pledges is, in fact, growing. I am receiving a lot of great, overwhelmingly positive responses from many around the world that are interested and keen to join hands. And of course, if anything, this simply demonstrates how we are delivering on one of our main pillars, and that is doing everything with inclusivity.

We are not leaving anyone behind, nor are we leaving any on the sidelines. We're engaging, and we're bringing everyone on board. And I'll be happy to tell you about all the countries that have signed up to our declarations if you're interested, or I can have my team share with you all the details. I really think something special is happening here. The positivity, the optimism, the hope, the momentum, the determination is just growing. And I will stay focused, laser-focused, on delivery and maintaining this momentum until we land the most ambitious response to the Global Stocktake.

It is time for us to seriously cooperate, collaborate, and unite. It is solidarity that is needed at this point in time if we're serious about addressing this. It is time that we deliver the highest ambitious response to the Global Stocktake and keep 1.5 within reach. And of course, I am excited. I am more determined than ever before, and I do look forward to rubbing shoulders against everyone, working with everyone, rolling up my sleeves, and working very closely with the negotiators to get this job done.

And before I hand over to my colleague Sconaid. Allow me to say how grateful I am and appreciative for the relationship we have been able to establish with the IPCC and with my very dear colleague Jim, who has been very instrumental in helping us develop and shape our vision and our agenda, as well as our detailed strategy and objectives. The fact is that we have always built everything, every step of the way, on the science, on the facts, and on the figures. I thank you."

For his part, Jim Skea, IPCC, said, “I'm here representing the IPCC, which does have a mandate which is quite distinct from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. And just to say we are concerned with the facts and the figures. We don't carry out our own research. We assess the work that is carried in the scientific community. And when we produce our reports, every line, every word is approved in collaboration with governments and has been endorsed by them. And just a couple of words about what IPCC actually said about fossil fuels, and I will say it very precisely. So looking at scenarios in which global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees with no or little overshoot by 2050, fossil fuel use is greatly reduced, and unabated coal use is completely phased out. These are the words that we used. I can give you some extra numbers as well. For oil, for example, oil use by 2050 is reduced by 60 percent and natural gas use is reduced by 45 percent. I might say that I have had a small number of one to one conversations with Dr. Sultan, and the topic has exclusively been on the science, and I can say that Dr. Sultan has been attentive to the science as we have discussed it and I think has fully understood it. So I do not want to go beyond that and do interpretation. I think we should have the facts out there, and if people want to see the detail from the IPCC reports, we would probably happily provide them to journalists.”

Following are key quotes from the Q&A with Dr. Al Jaber during the news conference:

- “I'm an engineer by background. It's the science, and I respect the science and my passion about the science, and it's my conviction to the science that has enabled me to progress in my career. I'm an economist by background, and by combining my passion for science and my engineering background, and supplementing that with business and economics skills, I was able to progress in my career. So, science has been central to my own career progress. And yes, I respect the science in everything I do. And I respect and trust numbers and figures. Science has guided my life. This is a fact. And I have repeatedly said in many occasions and in different platforms that it is the science that has guided the principles of our strategy as the COP28 Presidency.”

- “The science says that we must get to net zero emissions by 2050, and we must reduce emissions by 43 percent by 2030 in order for us to be able to keep 1.5 within reach. I have been very clear that my job and this mission, is to ensure that my North Star continues to be, and we stay laser focused on, keeping 1.5 within reach.”

- “I know that there are strong views among some parties about the phase down or phase out of fossil fuels. And allow me to say this again, this is the first Presidency ever to actively call on parties to come forward with language on all fossil fuels for the negotiated task text.”

- “I respect facts, I respect numbers, and these are the facts on the ground. I have called on parties many times to find common ground, build consensus, and come to me with language that will work with all parties. This Presidency is committed to delivering the highest ambition possible. I am committed and determined to deliver the most ambitious response to the Global Stocktake. Let's give the process the space it needs. And if anything, judge us on what we will deliver at the end of this COP.”