COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber pledged to unlock finance to meet the needs of the Global South, while also addressing the inclusion of fossil fuels as an “unconventional” approach to combat climate change.

Al Jaber, who addressed delegates at the COP28 climate summit, spoke of the concerns weighing on the world today.

“We now know that the Paris Agreement, which we thought was a silver bullet to open funds, is at a worrying stage. Rather than increasing climate finance from developed countries, the money is actually decreasing. The Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Funds are two examples of this,” said Al Jaber.

“There is an expansion of fossil fuels in countries that were meant to phase it out. These are worrying signs that need to be addressed,” he said. “The world has reached a crossroads. Since Paris, we have made some progress, but we also know the road we have been on will not get us to our destination. The science has spoken that the moment is now to find a new road, wide enough for all of us.”

Al Jaber addressed the need to include fossil fuels in the conversation, alluding as well to the sharp criticism this has drawn from climate experts.

“We must look for ways to ensure the inclusion of the role of fossil fuel. I know there are strong ideas on including fossil fuels and renewables on the negotiation text, [but] to go the unconventional way. We have to be flexible and find a common ground and achieve consensus.”

Calling the 1.5 degree as the “North Star” for every climate discussion of his presidency, Al Jaber also agreed that finance has not been “available, accessible or affordable for too long.”

“We are committed to unlocking finance and the Global South doesn’t have to choose between development and climate action. Let this be the year climate finance meets the magnitude of the moment. We need to deliver on the $100 billion Loss and Damage Fund and we know how important this issue is to the parties,” he added.

With COP28 running until December 12, climate experts and developing countries are counting on an iron-clad agreement that will deliver on finances that are endangering the lives of and livelihoods of nations in the Global South.

(Reporting by Bindu Rai, editing by Seban Scaria)