“Reset & reflect” on how climate challenges can be tackled inclusively – Pres. Ali urges at COP28

President Dr Irfaan Ali

President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali has challenged the United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP28) to embrace a more inclusive approach if it is to achieve its net-zero emissions goals.

In his address to global leaders at the Dubai summit, President Ali argued that the current ‘doctrinaire’ approach risks jeopardising the interests of developing nations and the world’s poorest populations.

He emphasised the need for a paradigm shift, urging leaders to “reset and reflect” on how climate challenges can be tackled inclusively and without disproportionately harming vulnerable communities.

“If the debate of COP28 is framed by two camps; one, calling for no cuts in fossil fuel production including the most polluting form such as coal, and the other saying that the only solution to net zero is an end to fossil fuel production, then, we’ll fail once again to achieve a viable outcome and not give our world the energy it needs to grow and prosper,” the Head of State underscored.

He believes that net zero is possible through a combination of mechanisms, including the reduction of fossil fuel production and the removal of large polluters from the supply chain, as well as keeping the world’s forests intact.

“We remain our call for the removal of subsidies, incentivising the reintroduction of renewables at scale, addressing the demand for energy, upscaling technology…A reduction in deforestation and land degradation through incentives and incentivising the protection and sustainable management of forests,” President Ali emphasised.

Only through such an approach can the world effectively confront pressing challenges like climate change, food and energy crises, and achieve sustainable development, President Ali added.

He outlined three priorities that should be discussed during the engagement, which must involve leaders agreeing to an orderly and affordable transition away from excessive fuel use and, “ensure at scale and accessible climate finance for a developing world that is of a scale that matches what needs to be done.”

Furthermore, global leaders must recognise the importance of maintaining tropical forests and advancing sustainable land use specifically in tropical forests.

Guyana is leading this cause as it sits as a co-chair on the carbon markets working group of the Forest & Climate Leaders’ Partnership (FCLP), which consists of 30 countries.

Through partnership with the FCLP, Guyana is working to build high-quality carbon markets to allow forested communities and countries to prosper while keeping nature intact.

“The COP must finally turn the promise of climate action into reality, halting and reversing forest loss globally by 2030. It’s potentially one-third of the available solution to keep 1.5 degrees in reach [and] finance is key,” the president highlighted.

In 2008, Guyana became the first developing country to produce a Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), maintaining the most intact forests with one of the lowest deforestation rates, storing more than 19.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide.

The country is also building an eco-system economy with forest-carbon markets, generating 4.5 per cent of the government’s income in 2023 alone. Over 500 projects in indigenous communities are also funded by the forests’ carbon markets.

President Ali reemphasised that Guyana stands in solidarity with every country that is working to create a better future for all, especially in developing countries, and will always put practical solutions to the table.

“We are a carbon net positive country and aim to stay there. We accept the responsibility that comes with being a new oil producer. Our economy will grow more than three-fold while keeping energy emissions flat,” the Head of State expressed. [Extracted and Modified from DPI]