BARBADOS, 11th August, 2023 (WAM) -- Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and COP 28 President-Designate, has visited Barbados to meet with Prime Minister Mia Motley and address distinguished leaders of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
In his speech, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber reaffirmed the COP28 Presidency's commitment to support communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and to push the international community to close the climate finance gap and address social and economic development in-step with climate action.
Dr. Al Jaber said, "The peoples of the Caribbean have been on the front lines of climate change for longer than most. You have been facing some of the harshest climate impacts. And in a very real sense, your experience represents an early warning system for the rest of the world."
In his address to CARICOM, the COP28 President-Designate emphasised the critical role climate finance will play in the global energy transition, reminding those present that 'fixing climate finance' is one of four of his key 'Action Plan' priorities for COP28 alongside 'focus on people', 'lives and livelihoods' and underpinning everything with 'full inclusivity'.
"As a first step, I have called on donor countries to 'show me the money', when it comes to the long overdue 100-billion-dollar finance pledge. I am also calling for deep, system-wide reform of IFIs and MDBs to make them more responsive to the climate and development needs of the 21st century. In short, all forms of finance must be more available, more accessible, and more affordable," added Al Jaber.
Dr. Al Jaber also praised the work of The Bridgetown Initiative, which he noted was "a wake-up call for the global community to make good on past promises and modernise a financial architecture that was built for the last century." Spearheaded by Barbados, The Bridgetown Initiative seeks to facilitate access to international financing, an effort that aligns with the COP28 Presidency's own commitment to modernise global financial infrastructure to support climate action.
In his speech, the COP28 President-Designate also highlighted that Barbados represents "a living example of renewable energy's potential not only to deliver carbon free power, but to lower energy costs and create new avenues for economic growth."
He noted that the Bridgetown and Bowmanston Solar Power plants are expected to displace 1,000 tons of CO2 and save nearly 400,000 dollars in diesel fuel costs every year. The UAE itself has partnered on carbon and cost-saving projects across 16 Caribbean nations through the Abu Dabi Fund for Development and Masdar. However, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber noted that the cost of capital is proving a stumbling block to progress.
"We all know that the cost of capital has slowed the adoption of renewable energy in this region, alongside many other climate vulnerable regions of the world. That is why addressing the climate finance gap is so important and why I have made it a key priority for COP28," Al Jaber added.
Dr. Al Jaber also warned of the importance of striking the "right balance" between mitigation finance and adaptation finance, noting this will be critical as world leaders begin outlining the parameters for a new, collective goal for finance during COP28, and beyond.
"This region knows only too well the human and economic costs of too little finance for climate adaptation and resilience. That's why I am calling on all parties to double adaptation finance by 2025 and ensure that a substantial portion of all climate finance goes to adaptation in the future," Dr. Sultan Al Jaber said.
During his visit to Barbados, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber also announced that the UAE will host a meeting of the Independent High-Level Expert Group (IHLEG) on Climate Finance in August. The two-day meeting will bring together world-leading economists, private sector leaders, the COP28 Presidency and the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions and will prepare the ground ahead of COP28, ensuring the event delivers tangible action on international finance reforms.
During his stay in Barbados, the COP28 President-Designate held a bilateral meeting with several other dignitaries, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and the Minister of Energy and Business Development.
He also conducted a tour of the island, visiting key ecological sites and climate adaptation projects, including the energy-efficient, hurricane resilient homes of the Home Ownership Providing Energy (HOPE) project and the sea defense installation at Holetown, which is designed to protect the local community from rising sea levels.
Dr. Al Jaber's visit to Barbados follows a trip to Brazil, where he delivered remarks at the Amazon Summit and Collaboration for Sustainable Development and urged leaders to build on President Lula's achievements in reducing deforestation.