Dr. Sultan Al Jaber has officially assumed the role of COP28 President in a ceremony to mark the official transfer of the role from his predecessor, Egypt's Sameh Shoukry.
"The science has spoken," Dr. Sultan Al Jaber told delegates at the official opening ceremony at Expo Dubai.
"It has confirmed the moment is now to find a new road, a road wide enough for all of us, free of the obstacles and detours of the past. That new road starts with a decision on the Global Stocktake, a decision that is ambitious, corrects course and accelerates action to 2030."
Kicking off two weeks of intense climate negotiations, Al Jaber used his first official speech as COP President to issue a rallying call to delegates to unite around the agenda and restore faith in multilateralism.
"I pledge that I will run an inclusive and transparent process, one that encourages free and open discussion between all parties."
He reiterated calls to bridge the global adaptation finance gap, and urged parties to deliver on the promise of a fully operational Loss and Damage fund. "Let’s put nature, lives, and livelihoods at the core of our national plans. Let’s finally face the issues that are critical to adaptation, like water, food, agriculture, and health," Al Jaber said, adding that COP28 will be the first to host a climate health ministerial.
"This Presidency is committed to unlocking finance to ensure that the Global South does not have to choose between development and climate action."
Dr Al Jaber also noted the importance of decarbonising the existing energy system. “Let history reflect the fact that this is the Presidency that made a bold choice to proactively engage with oil and gas companies. We had many discussions. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. But now, many of these companies are committing to zeroing out methane emissions by 2030 for the first time. And many national oil companies have adopted net zero 2050 targets for the first time.”
He also called for consensus around a framework for the future energy system. “I know there are strong views about the idea of including language on fossil fuels and renewables in the negotiated text. We have the power to do something unprecedented. I ask you to work together.
"Be flexible, find common ground, come forward with solutions, and achieve consensus. And never lose sight of our North Star of 1.5."
COP28 officially runs until December 12.
With finance also high on the meeting agenda, the UAE's COP28 presidency published a proposal on the eve of the summit, for countries to adopt a new UN climate damage fund - raising hopes among some delegates that this could be among the first deals struck in Dubai.