COP26 President’s keynote speech at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week summit

The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP

Good afternoon.

It is an absolute pleasure to join you today. At the beginning of what is a momentous year for our planet.

Together we must make 2021 the year of climate action.

And we have just ten years to bring our emissions under control. A decade to limit global temperature rises, to the levels set out in the Paris Agreement.

The choices we make today will determine whether we or not we achieve it.

The science is clear on the destruction we will unleash if we do not.

Water supplies strained. Nature devastated. Human health increasingly stunted by the air we breath.

So it is vital that we act now.

As President of the next UN climate conference, COP26, I want this to be the year that all of us unite around the aims of the Paris Agreement.

From governments, cities, and civil society. To businesses, investors, and development banks.

So it is great to see Clover Hogan on today’s panel. Who is working to empower young people.

And of course, my friend Laurent Fabius, who delivered the historic Paris Agreement.

And Francesco La Camera. Under whose leadership, IRENA is supporting the clean energy transition around the world.

I have four key goals.

One, to strengthen adaptation – to respond to the realities of a changing climate.

Two, to enhance international collaboration among governments, business and civil society.

Of course, the UK works with the UAE on Mission Innovation, for example. Speeding up innovation in clean energy technologies.

Three, I want to get finance flowing to climate action – both public and private.

And I am calling on developed countries to honour their commitments on international climate financeand raise that $100 billion a year.

And I am urging investors to take climate risk into account, and capitalise on the shift to clean, resilient growth across the world.

I thank our hosts, Masdar, for their work on the global energy transition,

including their support for UK offshore wind, which is powering British homes and businesses as we speak.

The fourth, incredibly important, goal I want us to work towards is reducing emissions.

I am calling on world leaders to come forward with ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions.

To set out net zero targets, and long-term plans to achieve them.

And to introduce policies to make these targets a reality.

Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.

Deploying renewables faster.

And moving to clean transport.

I welcome the leadership the UAE has shown amongst the Gulf states.

Its new NDC last December, setting a target that covers the whole economy,

and some of the lowest solar power prices in the world.

I am also urging business, cities and regions to take actions.

To sign up to the Race to Zero campaign.

And work to reach net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.

By signing up you will be joining over 450 cities, and 1400 firms which have already done so.

Including the likes of the UAE’s Globesight, Microsoft and EDF.

This is not just the right thing to do.

It also helps to drive shareholder value.

Whether it is finance, business, or our national economies, the opportunities presented by the move to clean growth are enormous.

Once pre-election commitments made by President-elect Joe Biden are enacted, almost two-thirds of the world’s emissions will be covered by net zero commitments. A club that is growing all the time.

Global trade in low-carbon goods and services is expected to grow up to 34 times between 2015 and 2050.

By investing in clean sectors today, as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic, we can build clean growth into the heart of our economies.

Creating jobs and prosperity.

Here in the UK for example, our Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution will support and create a quarter of a million green jobs.

Government investment in wind power, hydrogen, carbon capture usage and storage, electric vehicles and much more, will help to leverage in three times the amount from the private sector.

The opportunities are there for the taking.

So, friends, in this vital year for our planet, let’s come together.

Let’s increase our ambition.

And take action.

To put the world on course for a clean and prosperous future.


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