COP28 opens in Dubai with calls for accelerated climate action

Update COP28 opens in Dubai with calls for accelerated climate action
Up to 200 global leaders will join over 80,000 delegates gathered in Dubai for the UN climate conference. (Abdulrahman Fahad Bin shulhub/AN)
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Updated 30 January 2024

COP28 opens in Dubai with calls for accelerated climate action

COP28 opens in Dubai with calls for accelerated climate action
  • Up to 200 global leaders will join over 80,000 delegates gathered in Dubai for the UN climate conference

DUBAI: Up to 200 global leaders will join over 80,000 delegates gathered in Dubai for the UN climate conference as governments prepare for negotiations on whether to agree, for the first time, to phase out fossil fuels – the main source of global warming.

With finance also high on the meeting agenda, the COP28 presidency has published a proposal on the eve of the summit for countries to formally adopt the outlines of a new UN fund to cover losses and damages in poor countries being hit by climate disasters like extreme flooding or persistent drought.

READ MORE: Click here for our coverage of COP28


COP28 formally approves climate disaster fund arrangements

DUBAI: Countries at the UN COP28 climate summit on Thursday formally approved a deal on a new climate disaster fund.

The deal was adopted following the COP28 opening ceremony, drawing a standing ovation from delegates.

Representatives from developed and developing countries painstakingly crafted the agreement during negotiations this year. It will launch a fund to help vulnerable nations cope with the cost of climate-driven damage from drought, floods and rising seas.

UN weather agency says 2023 is the hottest year on record, warns of further climate extremes ahead

DUBAI: The UN weather agency said Thursday that 2023 is all but certain to be the hottest year on record, and warning of worrying trends that suggest increasing floods, wildfires, glacier melt, and heat waves in the future.

The World Meteorological Organization also warned that the average temperature for the year is up some 1.4°C from pre-industrial times – a mere one-tenth of a degree under a target limit for the end of the century as laid out by the Paris climate accord in 2015.

The WMO secretary-general said the onset earlier this year of El Niño, the weather phenomenon marked by heating in the Pacific Ocean, could tip the average temperature next year over the 1.5°C target cap set in Paris.

WATCH: Opening ceremony of COP28: UN Climate Change conference

1101 GMT

Jim Skea, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (AFP)

“Human activity has led to changes in climate at a magnitude that is unprecedented over centuries and thousands of years,” according to Jim Skea, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“If we do not find immediate and deep emission reductions across all sectors, we will not meet the goals of the Paris agreement,” he said.

“Our assessments have identified multiple options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change, and these can be implemented right now. But they need to be scaled up and mainstreamed through policies and increased financing.”

“As the chair of the IPCC, the scientific community is poised for using the resources available to support the outcomes of COP28, in shaping climate actions based on science. But finally, let us recall, science by itself is no substitute for action,” Skea said.

1051 GMT

Simon Stiell, executive secretary of UNFCCC

“Today, we find ourselves in a rather different position, in humanity’s climate action journey. We are taking baby steps. Stepping far too slowly from an unstable world that lacks resilience, to working out the best responses to the complex impacts we are facing,” Simon Stiell, executive secretary of UNFCCC, said in his remarks at the opening of COP28.

“We must teach climate action to run. Because this has been the hottest year ever for humanity. So many terrifying records were broken. We are paying with people’s lives and livelihoods,” he said.

“If we do not signal the terminal decline of the fossil fuel era as we know it, we welcome our own terminal decline. And we choose to pay with people’s lives. If this transition isn’t just, we won’t transition at all. That means justice within and between countries. Sharing benefits across society. Ensuring that everyone – women, indigenous peoples and youth, in all their diversity - have equal opportunities to benefit from these transitions.”

“In 2024, countries will submit their first Biennial Transparency Report. This will mean the reality of individual progress can’t be concealed… And let this be your first official notice that early in 2025, countries must deliver new Nationally Determined Contributions. Please start working on them now,” Stiell said.

“Science tells us we have around six years before we exhaust the planet’s ability to cope with our emissions. Before we blow through the 1.5°C limit,” the executive secretary of UNFCCC said.

“This is the biggest COP yet – but attending a COP does not tick the climate box for the year. The badges around your necks make you responsible for delivering climate action here and at home... turn the badge around your necks into a badge of honor, and a life belt for the millions of people you are working for. Accelerate climate action. Teach it to run,” added.

1022 GMT

COP28 President designate Sultan Al-Jaber. (Abdulrahman Fahad Bin shulhub/AN)

In his opening speech, COP28 President designate Sultan Al-Jaber urged delegates as well as oil companies to work together at the UN climate summit. He said, “we must ensure that this COP delivers the most ambitious global stocktake possible.”

He stressed that the COP28 is committed to unlocking finance to ensure that the global south does not have to choose between development and climate action.

While Al-Jaber hailed the initiative of national oil companies to step up, he said “it is not enough.” “They can do more. Every nation, every sector and every one of us has an urgent role to play.”



“We can bring mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation which includes finance under one umbrella,” according to Al-Jaber, who also runs state-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

“I ask you to start this COP with a new mindset, adopt different thinking, be flexible. Ensure the most ambitious global stocktake. I want this COP to be the COP that maximizes mitigation on momentum,” Al-Jaber said.

He stressed that the ‘role of fossil fuels’ must be part of climate deal. “It is essential that no issue is left off the table,” according to the UAE official. He added that “let this be the COP where we deliver our promises from the $100 billion on loss and damage.”

COP28 president Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber receives a gavel from Egyptian foreign minister and COP27 President Sameh Shoukry during the United Nations Climate Change Conference opening in Dubai on Nov. 30, 2023. (Reuters)

“This is the presidency that made a bold choice to proactively engage oil and gas companies. We had many hard discussions. That was not easy. But today, many of these companies are committing zero methane emissions by 2030 for the first time. And now, many national oil companies have adopted net zero 2050 targets for the first time,” Al-Jaber said in his speech.

“The next two weeks will not be easy. Let us remember, our task is not about only negotiating texts. It is about improving lives, it is about people,” he added.

1016 GMT

Sameh Shoukry, the COP27 president

“Rather than increasing climate finance from developed countries, actually, it is decreasing in relation to growing needs and the increasing growth of financing in developing countries,” said Shoukry, the COP27 president.

The UN’s COP28 climate summit in Dubai opened Thursday with a moment of silence for the victims of the conflict in Gaza.

Sameh Shoukry, the Egyptian foreign minister who chaired the previous COP talks in Egypt last year, urged delegates to “stand for a moment of silence” in memory of two climate diplomats who recently died “as well as all civilians who have perished during the current conflict in Gaza”.


An early breakthrough on the damage fund — which poorer nations have demanded for years — could help grease the wheels for other compromises to be made during the two-week summit.

The UN and hosts the UAE say the COP28 talks will be the most important since Paris in 2015, when nations agreed to limit global warming to well below 2°Celsius since the preindustrial era, and preferably to a safer limit of 1.5°C.

Scientists say the world is not on track to achieve these targets and nations must make faster and deeper cuts to emissions to avert the most disastrous impacts of climate change.



A central focus will be a stocktake of the world’s limited progress on curbing global warming, which requires an official response at these talks.

“Right now, we’re taking baby steps where we should be taking great leaps and great strides to get us to where we need to be,” said UN climate chief Simon Stiell on Wednesday.

The COP28 climate conference should aim for a complete “phaseout” of fossil fuels, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier said, warning of “total disaster” on humanity’s current trajectory.

“Obviously I am strongly in favor of language that includes (a) phaseout, even with a reasonable time framework,” Guterres said.

Climate change is the biggest threat to human health in Africa and the rest of the world, the head of the continent's public health agency said.

Mitigating that risk was top of his agenda, Jean Kaseya, the director general of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said as he headed to the COP28 climate summit in Dubai.

with agencies

Saudi Arabia introduces clean diesel and gasoline fuels in Kingdom’s market

Saudi Arabia introduces clean diesel and gasoline fuels in Kingdom’s market
Updated 27 February 2024

Saudi Arabia introduces clean diesel and gasoline fuels in Kingdom’s market

Saudi Arabia introduces clean diesel and gasoline fuels in Kingdom’s market

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s sustainability drive is gaining momentum with the Ministry of Energy announcing the launch of clean diesel and Euro-5 compliant gasoline in the Kingdom’s market. 

According to a Saudi Press Agency report, these newly introduced fuels offer lower emissions than traditional diesel and gasoline.

Like their predecessors, these energy sources are suitable for all means of transportation, and are also expected to contribute to preserving the environment and achieving the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, the report added. 

Euro-5 is a standard set by the EU to regulate the emissions of vehicles. 

Saudi Arabia is leading the Middle East and North Africa region in sustainable efforts through various undertakings, including the Saudi Green Initiative. 

The Ministry of Energy said that the introduction of these two fuels comes as part of the Kingdom’s efforts to reduce emissions and reach net zero in 2060 through the application of the circular carbon economy approach. 

The report added that the launch of these resources would encourage car manufacturers to introduce the latest energy-efficient vehicle technologies to the Kingdom. 

In January, multi-project developer Red Sea Global announced that it has become the first company in Saudi Arabia to use low-carbon biofuel in all its delivery trucks.

In a press statement, RSG revealed that the entire fleet of land vehicles is now powered by electricity or biofuel. 

The biofuel is produced from used cooking oil sourced within Saudi Arabia. The type of fuel RSG has adopted emits only 0.17 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per liter, compared with 2.7kg CO2e per liter from regular diesel usage.

Johnson & Johnson MedTech begins direct operations in Saudi Arabia 

Johnson & Johnson MedTech begins direct operations in Saudi Arabia 
Updated 27 February 2024

Johnson & Johnson MedTech begins direct operations in Saudi Arabia 

Johnson & Johnson MedTech begins direct operations in Saudi Arabia 

RIYADH: Saudi healthcare is poised to benefit from advanced medical interventions after Johnson & Johnson’s technology firm, J&J MedTech KSA, announced the launching of its direct operations in the Kingdom.  

The company provides high-tech medical and surgical equipment and aims to bring customers closer to a more streamlined experience, according to a statement.   

This move not only aligns with the firm’s commitment to enhancing medical interventions and improving clinical outcomes but also reflects the company’s ongoing investment in the future of Saudi healthcare, it added.   

Marzena Kulis, managing director of Johnson & Johnson MedTech for Middle East & Africa, said: “We remain deeply vested in Saudi Arabia and in contributing to the Vision 2030 to support in developing the healthcare sector, driving economic growth, nurturing local talent, and fostering innovation.”    

She added: “As an entity, Johnson & Johnson has been present in Saudi Arabia for nearly 40 years, putting the needs of patients, families, physicians, and nurses first, and functioning as advocates for the health of the Saudi community.”   

The senior executive added that as the company transitions into this new direct model, its esteemed partners will have fewer obstacles in providing the best care for their patients.

Moreover, Trad Al-Khelaiwi general manager of J&J MedTech KSA, highlighted: “As a company that is dedicated to fostering local talent, our direct operations are also aimed at creating more opportunities within the Kingdom and supporting the government’s Saudization efforts.”

He added: “In fact, since the start of the project, we’ve made 76 new hires — with our priority and majority being KSA nationals.” 

Furthermore, Al-Khelaiwi emphasized that this transformative shift would bring the customers closer to Johnson & Johnson’s quality standards and help develop the local healthcare market with international know-how.

“By taking this bold step, we are not only embracing the health goals of Vision 2030 and aligning with the National Health Transformation Program but also spotlighting the immense potential of local talent in driving innovation and progress,” Transformation Director at Johnson & Johnson MedTech Peter Lane underscored. 

In November 2022, Johnson & Johnson announced providing digital solutions that will shorten the time patients spend in hospitals.  

According to Marzena Kulis, managing director of Johnson & Johnson MedTech Middle East, the move was crucial in countries with lower bed capacity.  

“The digital solutions that we currently offer help to shorten the time of patients’ stay, so the capacity can absorb more patients, especially in the geographies where capacity is limited,” Kulis said in an exclusive interview with Arab News at the time.

Demand for fossil fuels not likely to diminish anytime soon: Saudi energy minister

Demand for fossil fuels not likely to diminish anytime soon: Saudi energy minister
Updated 27 February 2024

Demand for fossil fuels not likely to diminish anytime soon: Saudi energy minister

Demand for fossil fuels not likely to diminish anytime soon: Saudi energy minister


RIYADH: Saudi Arabia aspires to become one of the largest producers and exporters of clean energy, said Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.

In an interview with the quarterly bulletin issued by the Saudi Association for Energy Economics, the minister said the Kingdom is capable of producing green and clean hydrogen at competitive prices.

Prince Abdulaziz said the Kingdom is focussing on all energy sources including solar, wind and green hydrogen as well as nuclear and geothermal.

This will help the Kingdom to reduce the consumption of liquid fuels in generating electricity and reaching the optimal energy mix, he added.

The minister cited the establishment of the largest green hydrogen production plant in NEOM as an example. The plant will have an annual production capacity of 250,000 tonnes by 2026.

Talking about the fluctuations in the oil market, he said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has mechanisms in place to deal with global crude market challenges.

Despite highlighting Saudi Arabia’s energy transition plans, Prince Abdulaziz said the need for fossil fuels, especially oil and gas, will continue for decades as also indicated by several industry reports.

The minister added that Saudi Arabia is working to reduce carbon emissions, and that it has a program to replace liquid fuels.

He explained that the program aims to run industrial facilities to rely on natural gas or alternative fuels as well as building renewable energy sources.

Furthermore, Prince Abdulaziz highlighted how Saudi Arabia has quadrupled its current renewable energy capacity from 700 megawatts to 2,800 MW by the end of 2023, with more than 800 MW of renewable energy sources still under implementation and about 1,300 MW in various stages of development. On top of that, the Kingdom plans to produce 200 additional MW this year.

The energy minister also revealed that work is underway to build one of the largest projects to capture, transport, and store carbon dioxide with an annual capacity of up to 9 million tonnes by 2030 and 44 million tons annually by 2035.

He reiterated the Kingdom’s goal to reduce emissions to 278 million tonnes annually by 2030.

Closing Bell: Saudi main index rebounds to close at 12,602

Closing Bell: Saudi main index rebounds to close at 12,602
Updated 27 February 2024

Closing Bell: Saudi main index rebounds to close at 12,602

Closing Bell: Saudi main index rebounds to close at 12,602

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index bounced back on Tuesday after recording declines on two days.

The benchmark index gained 69.79 points to close at 12,601.55 with an overall trading value of SR7.31 billion ($1.95 billion), with 169 stocks advancing and 52 declining. 

The Kingdom’s parallel market, Nomu, also gained 661.67 points to close at 26,254.28 and the MSCI Tadawul Index also edged up by 0.68 percent to 1,627.71. 

The best-performing stock of the day was Middle East Pharmaceutical Industries Co., also known as Avalon Pharma, which debuted on the main market on Tuesday. The company’s share price soared by 30 percent to SR106.60. 

Other top performers were Saudi Steel Pipe Co. and Batic Investments and Logistics Co., whose share prices surged by 9.93 percent and 9.87 percent, respectively. 

The worst performer of the day was Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co., as its share price slipped by 5.24 percent to SR29.85. 

On the announcements front, Arabian Centers Co., also known as Cenomi Centers, said that its board of directors approved issuing dollar-denominated sukuk under its international sukuk program. 

In a Tadawul statement, Cenomi Centers revealed that the amount and the terms of offerings will be announced later, depending on the market conditions. 

The lifestyle center operator added that the sukuk issuance is subject to the approval of the relevant regulatory authorities. 

Meanwhile, National Medical Care Co. revealed that it witnessed a net profit rise of 42 percent in 2023 to SR240.9 million compared to the previous year. 

The medical service provider said the rise in net profit was driven by higher revenue, gross profit, and interest income, along with lower sales costs and zakat charges. 

National Medical Care Co. added that the net profit for the fourth quarter of 2023 also witnessed a surge of 15 percent to SR63.5 million compared to the same period in 2022. 

Saudi Basic Industries Corp. also revealed its financial results for 2023 on Tuesday. 

The company, also known as SABIC, reported a net loss of SR2.58 billion in 2023, compared to a net profit of SR16.5 billion in 2022. 

In a statement to Tadawul, the company attributed the accumulation of losses to a decline in revenue due to a decrease in average selling prices and sales volumes. 

Aramco signs procurement agreements worth $6bn to enhance local supply chain

Aramco signs procurement agreements worth $6bn to enhance local supply chain
Updated 27 February 2024

Aramco signs procurement agreements worth $6bn to enhance local supply chain

Aramco signs procurement agreements worth $6bn to enhance local supply chain

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco’s domestic supply chain is poised for further improvement as it signed procurement agreements worth $6 billion with suppliers in the Kingdom. 

According to a press statement, these 40 procurement agreements were inked as a part of the company’s strategic localization program and are expected to strengthen the firm’s supply chain ecosystem and contribute to the development of the energy services sector in Saudi Arabia. 

The deals will also provide suppliers with long-term demand visibility, enabling them to capture future growth and advance localization efforts.

Wail Al-Jaafari, executive vice president of technical services at Saudi Aramco, said: “The 40 new agreements signed today are expected to contribute to the domestic value chain and further enhance the ecosystem that Aramco is helping to build.” 

Moreover, these procurement agreements will also contribute to achieving the objectives of Aramco’s iktva program, an initiative to drive the growth of a vibrant economy in the Kingdom and create new opportunities for Saudi nationals.

These new corporate deals span the supply of a range of products comprising strategic commodities, such as instrumentation and electrical and drilling equipment. 

“These agreements move us toward a more prosperous, diverse and resilient supply chain, which will help ensure business continuity. They also represent a key milestone on our iktva journey and provide our partners an opportunity to benefit from a dynamic and increasingly diversified operating environment,” added Al-Jaafari. 

Additionally, Saudi Aramco signed two memorandum of understanding with its strategic partners to collaborate on localization and supply chain development. 

Earlier in February, speaking at the International Petroleum Technology Conference in Dhahran, Amin Nasser, CEO of Saudi Aramco, said that the company is very active in its localization efforts. 

“We hired more than 5,000 people, mostly Saudis, but also from 60 nationalities,” said Nasser.

He also added that Aramco has the full capability to grow in any sector to create profitable companies.

In January, a report released by strategic consulting firm Brand Finance revealed that Saudi Aramco has retained its position as the most valuable company in the Middle East region, with a value amounting to $41.6 billion.