SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will continue building on its close relationship with China, joining hands with China to bring wide-ranging benefits for global climate action, the UAE climate envoy said at the ongoing UN climate conference.
UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate Change Sultan Al Jaber told Xinhua in an interview at the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change being held in the Egyptian coastal city of Sharm El-Sheikh.
He said that as a responsible supplier of oil and gas, and an aggressive "first mover" on renewable energy, the UAE believes that advancing climate action helps to diversify economies and create new industries, and energy transition is one of the examples.
The UAE has emerged as a "trusted" partner with China in energy supply, and the two countries are also working closely on developing renewable energy, the minister noted.
"Regardless of whether it's developing biotechnologies, renewable energy solutions, or other sectors enabled by advanced technologies when our countries collaborate to innovate, costs come down, economic opportunities go up, and society benefits," Al Jaber told Xinhua.
He took solar stations as a sample of China-UAE collaborative innovation. In 2017, China and the UAE came together to build the world's largest single-site solar power plant, Noor Abu Dhabi. With 3.2 million solar panels installed across 8 square kilometers, Noor Abu Dhabi came online in 2019 with an installed capacity to produce 1.2 gigawatts of clean electricity.
Based on this achievement, the two countries will soon set a new benchmark in the renewable energy sector with the Al Dhafra Solar Project, which will be almost twice the size of Noor Abu Dhabi, according to Al Jaber.
"A successful energy transition must make progress with economic and climate action in tandem," the minister stressed, adding "I see many more opportunities for collaboration with China as we continue to build and adapt to clean-energy solutions."
As to the loss and damage issue, which is of the most concern to developing countries, Al Jaber pointed out that considerable gaps are remaining in the climate finance architecture to address loss and damage. While countries have overwhelmingly agreed on this issue, the exact financing arrangements are still under discussion.
The term "loss and damage" in UN climate negotiations refers to expenses already incurred as a result of climate change impacts, such as rising sea levels or extreme heat waves.
While current climate funding focuses on cutting carbon emissions to prevent climate change in the future, establishing a "loss and damage" fund means compensating countries that can't avoid or adapt to the changes that have already happened.
"At the same time, climate science tells us that there are hard limits to adaptation, and even if all emissions stopped today, there would still be future loss and damage," he said. As a result, the world must look for a collective response that is not only limited to financing but builds a range of solutions for addressing loss and damage.
The UAE's climate envoy also expressed his hope for COP28 in 2023, which will be held in his country. He stressed that although COP27 and COP28 are both taking place in the Mideast region which is particularly attuned to the effects of climate change, the UAE strongly believes that climate solutions can, and should, come from everywhere.
"As we prepare to host COP28, the Emirates Climate Conference next year, it is important to understand the priorities of all the nations, and that is one of our key tasks into the next year," he added.
COP28 will mark the conclusion of the first Global Stocktake, a progress report of how countries have performed based on their pledges made in the COP21 Paris Agreement in 2015.
"This will be an important outcome for COP28 and a critical milestone as we move towards making COP28 an inclusive and solutions-oriented climate summit," the minister said.
The conference in 2023 will focus on the empowerment of youth and women, accelerating climate finance, enhancing global access to advanced climate technologies and deploying them at scale, and supporting indigenous and vulnerable communities, according to Al Jaber.
"We believe that by working together for climate action, the world can unlock vast economic growth opportunities," said the climate envoy. ■