UAE to host U.N. climate talks in 2022, crown prince says

The United Arab Emirates, the Arab world’s largest and richest nation, will host the next United Nations climate change conference, or COP28, in 2022, the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince said.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said the 2022 conference would be the first time the world’s countries meet to agree on a post-2020 climate deal.

“We have huge responsibilities and I can see that people are following us [to prevent climate change],” the Crown Prince said on Friday after meeting U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“We all have to achieve the mandate and the political commitment to lead and be leaders,” he added.

The conference is expected to be similar to the 2015 Paris climate deal, which followed years of discord over emissions targets and was decided amid intense diplomatic pressure from President Barack Obama.

The UAE has one of the world’s lowest emissions per capita and was a signatory to the 2015 agreement.

Ahead of the 2016 talks in Marrakech, it pledged to cut its carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2030 from business-as-usual levels, in part by ensuring 75 percent of its electricity came from renewable sources by that year.

“We have no choice but to tackle this,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

The UAE last month inaugurated the Switching to Renewable Energy (STR), a 15-billion-dirham ($3.2 billion) wind energy plant, the third largest wind farm in the world.

It is the largest private-sector investment in renewable energy and will generate more than 2,400 megawatts, which would make it the world’s seventh largest, as well as the largest wind energy plant in the world.

The island nation is also betting heavily on carbon-neutral aviation and shipping, hoping that industry will change behavior as a way to combat climate change.

Speaking in Abu Dhabi, Guterres said he was “delighted to welcome” the UAE to the table and that it was “invaluable” that the conference would be held in 2022.

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