Activities of Secretary-General in United Arab Emirates, 10-13 December

The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, arrived in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, from Doha, Qatar, on Sunday afternoon, 10 December.

Upon arriving, the Secretary-General headed to the COP28 [twenty-eighth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] venue, where he was briefed by his Special Adviser on Climate Action, Selwin Hart, and the Executive Director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Simon Stiell.

This was followed by a meeting with Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, the COP28 President.

On Monday, 11 December, the Secretary-General met with the Ministerial Co-Facilitators from Denmark, South Africa, Singapore, Norway, Chile, Australia, Egypt and Canada.  This was followed by a meeting with the United States Senate Delegation.

Later that morning, the Secretary-General had a press encounter outside his offices, where he told journalists that while the conference was scheduled to wrap up the next day, there were still large gaps that needed to be bridged.  “Now is the time for maximum ambition and maximum flexibility,” he said, and urged ministers and negotiators to move beyond arbitrary red lines, entrenched positions and blocking tactics. 

“It is time to seek compromise for solutions — without compromising on the science or compromising on the need for the highest ambition,” he said. 

The Secretary-General then held a series of bilateral meeting with various groups.  First, he met with Wopke Hoekstra, European Union Commissioner for Climate Action and Teresa Ribera, Deputy Prime Minister of Spain.  Then, he met with the Group of 77 and then with John Kerry, the United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.

In the afternoon, the Secretary-General met with Bhupender Yadav, the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of India, and then with Minister Xie Zhenhua, the Special Representative for Climate Change Affairs, China.

The Secretary-General also met with members of civil society organizations and then with Ruslan Edelgeriev, the Presidential Climate Envoy for Climate of the Russian Federation.

In the evening, he met with the Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean Group.

Finally, he had a photo-op with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change staff before returning to his hotel.

The next day, the Secretary-General spoke to the European Union Ministerial Coordination Meeting, which was a private meeting at the European Union Pavilion.

He then met with the Ministers from the High-Level Ambition Coalition.  This was followed by separate meeting with Marina Silva, the Environment Minister of Brazil, and Barbara Creecy, the South African Environment Minister.

The Secretary-General then worked on his closing statement to COP28 with his speech-writer before heading back to his hotel.

That night, the Secretary-General returned to the COP28 venue to have another briefing with his team and then meet with Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, COP28 President.

The Secretary-General left Dubai on the early morning of 13 December.  His closing statement was issued by his Spokesperson once an agreement was reached in the late morning.  In the statement, the Secretary-General said COP28 occurred at a decisive moment in the fight against the climate crisis — a moment that demanded maximum ambition both in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and climate justice.  He noted that, for the first time, the outcome of COP recognized the need to transition away from fossil fuels — after many years in which the discussion of this issue was blocked.  To those who opposed a clear reference to a phase out of fossil fuels in the COP28 text, he said to them that “a fossil fuel phase out is inevitable whether they like it or not.  Let’s hope it doesn’t come too late.”

The era of fossil fuels must end — and it must end with justice and equity, he added.  (See Press Release SG/SM/22082.)

For information media. Not an official record.