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DUBAI: Money pledges stacked up at COP28 in Dubai on Monday as delegates sought to address the huge gap between what is needed in climate finance and the amounts so far on offer.

The United Arab Emirates, the host of this year’s conference, pledged to mobilise $270 billion in green finance by 2030 through its banks, and several development banks announced plans to increase their funding efforts, including by agreeing to pause debt repayments if a climate-related disaster hits.

But leaders of the region’s biggest economy and biggest OPEC oil producer Saudi Arabia have so far not attended the UN summit, in contrast to their participation in last year’s COP27 conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

On Monday, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, energy minister and the key climate negotiator, for the kingdom, was a no-show at the Saudi Green Initiative, a side event showcasing the country’s clean energy plans.

De facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman also did not deliver a speech to world leaders as scheduled on Friday.

As tensions ran high over differing visions for the future of fossil fuels, COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber defended his role after the Guardian newspaper quoted him as questioning the science behind the need to “phase out” fossil fuels.

Al Jaber has also drawn criticism linked to his role as CEO of ADNOC, the UAE’s state-owned oil company.

“I am quite surprised with the constant and repeated attempts to undermine the work of the COP28 presidency,” Al Jaber told a news conference. “We very much believe and respect the science.”

The amount of cash needed for the energy transition, climate adaptation and disaster relief is overwhelming.

A report released on Monday estimated that emerging markets and developing countries will need $2.4 trillion a year in investment to cap emissions and adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.

“The world is not on track to realise the goals of the Paris Agreement. The reason for this failure is a lack of investment, particularly in emerging market and developing countries outside China,” said co-author Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

The 2015 the Paris conference set a goal of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), while aiming for a cap of 1.5C.

“The central challenge is to accelerate and implement the fostering and financing of this investment from a range of sources,” Stern said.

Vulnerable countries that are already being hit by costly climate disasters are asking for billions more through a newly formed disaster fund. Pledges to the fund so far total around $700 million.

“Unless we have an urgent set of decision-making, we are going to suffer what every parent suffers from - exciting expectations and being unable to deliver,” said Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, a prominent voice in global discussions about mobilising climate finance.


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