When the United Arab Emirates became the first Arab state and oil-producing country to set its sights on having over 50% of its energy from renewable sources and reaching a net-zero position by 2050, the world rejoiced.
Led by the UAE’s then Minister of State for the Environment and Climate Change, Sultan al-Jaber, who was lauded as a visionary leader, the 2017 groundbreaking shift toward investment in clean energy by one of the world's leading petroleum producers was historic. Since making addressing climate change and expanding alternative energy a priority, the UAE has invested some $16.8 billion in renewable energy projects in over 70 countries all across the world, with a focus on developing nations.
Having been the first Mideast country to ratify the Paris Accords climate agreement, the UAE has been a leader in the fight against climate change, taking proactive steps to reduce its carbon footprint and making a significant investment in renewable energy sources far back as 2009. The country has implemented numerous initiatives to reduce emissions from the transportation sector and has been a vocal supporter of the Paris Agreement. It has been a critical player in the negotiations to develop the rulebook for its implementation, along with ratifying the Kyoto treaty back in 2005.
The UAE’s leadership in advancing support for clean energy both regionally and globally was recognized by the United Nations recently when choosing the country to host the upcoming December 2023 round of COP28, the world body’s most important global environmental conference, where governments around the world come together and agree on coordinated steps each will take to reduce pollution and address climate change.
Many of these programs stem from the efforts of Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, whose appointment as President-Designate of the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been greeted by an unfortunate chorus of hypocrisy and complaint from the very environmentalists who should be cheering his track record of steering OPEC’s third-largest producer toward diversification, massive investment in renewable and clean energy and away from global over-reliance on petroleum and carbon-based energy.
Much like the UAE’s selection as host for COP28, his appointment is a testament to the United Arab Emirates’ commitment to tackling climate change and his leadership role in the Mideast nation’s emergence as the oil-producing region’s pioneer in championing renewable energy. Al Jaber’s current role leading one of the UAE’s largest energy companies and oil producers, coupled with his demonstrated track record in addressing climate change issues, position him ideally to help lead the complicated global effort that success in COP28 requires. The political grandstanding and baseless personal attacks that greeted his appointment are wildly off base and ignore the need to convene leaders of the industry, government, and science in order to craft effective policy.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Maria Maalouf is a journalist, broadcaster, and owner of the Capitol Tv show from Washington, DC. She holds an MA in Political Sociology from the University of Lyon. You can find her on Twitter @bilarakib
Josh Block is an adjunct fellow at Hudson Institute. A foreign policy scholar and political strategist, Block has been involved in national politics and policy for nearly 25 years. He was a senior fellow at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA).He tweets @JoshblockDC