BARBADOS: COP28 President-Designate Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al-Jaber visited Barbados where he met with Prime Minister Mia Motley and addressed leaders of the Caribbean Community, Emirates News Agency reported on Friday.
In his address to CARICOM, Al-Jaber reaffirmed the COP28 presidency’s commitment to support communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and urge the international community to close the climate finance gap.
“The peoples of the Caribbean have been on the front lines of climate change for longer than most,” Al-Jaber said.
“You have been facing some of the harshest climate impacts. And in a very real sense, your experience represents an early warning system for the rest of the world,” he added.
He highlighted the crucial role of climate finance in the global energy transition and outlined his key priorities for COP28, which include a “focus on people” and underpinning everything with “full inclusivity.”
He said: “As a first step, I have called on donor countries to ‘show me the money’ when it comes to the long overdue $100 billion finance pledge. I am also calling for deep, system-wide reform of (international financial institutions) and (multilateral development banks) to make them more responsive to the climate and development needs of the 21st century.
“In short, all forms of finance must be more available, more accessible, and more affordable.”
Al-Jaber commended the Bridgetown Initiative, led by Barbados, for its efforts to facilitate access to international financing, describing it as “a wake-up call for the global community to make good on past promises and modernize a financial architecture that was built for the last century.”
The official highlighted the positive impact of the Bridgetown and Bowmanston solar power plants, which are expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 1,000 tons and save nearly $400,000 in diesel fuel costs annually.
The UAE has partnered on carbon and cost-saving projects across 16 Caribbean nations through the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development and Masdar. However, Al-Jaber acknowledged that the cost of capital remains a significant obstacle to progress.
“We all know that the cost of capital has slowed the adoption of renewable energy in this region, alongside many other climate-vulnerable regions of the world. That is why addressing the climate finance gap is so important and why I have made it a key priority for COP28,” he added.
Al-Jaber emphasized the need to strike the right balance between mitigation finance and adaptation finance. He called on all parties to double adaptation finance by 2025 and ensure a substantial portion of all climate finance is allocated to adaptation in the future.
Furthermore, he announced that the UAE will host a meeting of the Independent High-Level Expert Group on Climate Finance in August. This meeting will bring together leading economists, private sector leaders, the COP28 presidency, and the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions to lay the groundwork for tangible action on international finance reforms ahead of COP28.
During his visit, Al-Jaber toured various ecological sites and climate adaptation projects in Barbados. He visited the energy-efficient and hurricane-resistant homes of the Home Ownership Providing Energy project and the sea defense installation at Holetown, designed to protect the local community from rising sea levels.
The visit to Barbados followed his participation in the Amazon Summit and Collaboration for Sustainable Development in Brazil, where he urged leaders to build upon Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s achievements in reducing deforestation.