COP28 summit host the United Arab Emirates (UAE) may update its plans to tackle its own contribution to climate change next year after an independent research group ranked them "insufficient", the oil-producing country's climate minister said on Thursday.
The UAE strengthened its climate pledge in the summer to be more ambitious, and its COP28 leadership has called on other countries to do the same ahead of the Nov. 30-Dec. 12 summit.
But the country's new pledge would still see its CO2 emissions rise through to 2030, at odds with the sharp fall needed to curb climate change, according to the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) research consortium, which ranked the previous pledge "highly insufficient".
"So going from highly insufficient to insufficient was, let's say, a step in the right direction, but we're still striving for more," UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment Mariam Almheiri told reporters, referring to the UAE's national climate plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions.
"Who knows, probably next year, we might be announcing another NDC," she added.
"Don't forget, we are in a desert. And when you think of the high temperatures we get exposed to - living and adapting to the environment we're in is also not easy. So you take that into consideration plus the targets we want to reach," she said, explaining that the cost of living was also a factor.
Sarah Heck of Climate Analytics, one of the research institutes that make up CAT, said in July that while the UAE plans to spend $54 billion on renewable energy were good, they were dwarfed by the national oil company ADNOC's plans to invest three times that amount on oil and gas expansion.
Investments in nuclear energy and solar power mean the UAE is well on track to meet its target to have 30% of energy from clean sources by 2030. But this will not prevent the UAE from busting its overall climate goals, if fossil fuel use does not decrease, CAT said.
The climate change ministry is working closely with the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, Almheiri said.
"And actually, to be honest with you, the big players are feeling the heat. For them, they want to push this agenda as much as possible," she added, pointing to ADNOC's goal of net zero by 2045.
The UAE seeks to reach net zero by 2050.
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