UAE pledge to host ‘Cop for everyone’ is key for climate agenda, Baker Hughes CEO says
Widespread collaboration is essential to tackle the “energy trilemma: affordability, sustainability and security”, and the selection of the UAE as Cop28 hosts and appointment of Dr Sultan Al Jaber as the summit’s President-designate will help to take this agenda forward, the chairman and chief executive of US energy services company Baker Hughes has said.
“As we look to Cop28, it is bringing all those stakeholders together and having a discussion about implementation, implementation at scale of the technologies, having the right policies and frameworks and having the right dialogue around implementation,” Lorenzo Simonelli told The National in an interview at the World Government Summit in Dubai.
The UAE is preparing to host Cop28 in November, becoming the second Arab state to host the event after Egypt last year.
“I am very much looking forward to Cop28. It is one of the most important events in making sure we have an approach towards tackling climate change and that we have the discussions that are necessary to meet the emissions reductions,” Mr Simonelli said.
He lauded the pledge of the UAE and Dr Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, to hold a “Cop for everyone” to ensure success.
“The way in which it is coined as a Cop for everyone is very important, there is nobody who should not be involved in the discussion,” Mr Simonelli said.
Responding to some climate activists who criticised having representatives of the energy sector present at Cop28, Mr Simonelli said: “I am from the energy industry, we’ve got our role to play in reducing our own emissions, but then also helping others to reduce their emissions, just like agriculture and other industries.”
From implementing digital solutions to expanding the energy mix, industry leaders are looking at solutions.
“I would respond to critics saying that it is important we have everybody present because, at the end of the day, solutions are found by having collaboration and also having a dialogue of all stakeholders,” he said.
Dr Al Jaber is also chairman of Masdar and group chief executive and managing director of Adnoc.
Mr Simonelli said his selection as Cop28 President-designate was “a very good one”.
“If you look at the career of Dr Sultan Al Jaber, he has always been an advocate for sustainability, he has always been a pioneer towards introducing technology that can also assess and move people towards the aims that we have in addressing climate change … you need somebody that can actually bring together all the stakeholders and can have a pragmatic approach,” he said.
He stressed that “the selection of the UAE, of Dr Sultan Al Jaber, is one that will allow the world to come to Dubai and Abu Dhabi and have that dialogue and actually hear from everybody”.
He warned that “it is one of the last chances we do have to really have meaningful dialogue … 2050 is coming very quickly and we need to ensure we have all the actions in place to meet the 2050 targets as we go to 2025 and 2030″.
He said: “Now is the time for dialogue, and real implementation of outcomes as well, and Dr Sultan Al Jaber has had that in his curriculum and is very mindful of the objectives that must be met.”
Mr Simonelli also stressed that urgency was needed to tackle climate change, with natural disasters including floods and heatwaves becoming more frequent. “That is becoming more of an occurrence … we need to reduce the emissions,” he said.
The executive also said the issue of emissions was not related to “the fuel source, it is the emissions that we have to tackle from a climate change perspective”.
Meanwhile, “security of supply” is also vital, Mr Simonelli said. Since last year’s war in Ukraine began, “it has brought it to evidence that we need security of supply as well”.
While the energy transition is critical, he called for “pragmatic approaches and realistic discussions because we cannot switch overnight. Renewables take time, new technology takes time and we need a more pragmatic approach.”
I am very much looking forward to Cop28, it is one of the most important events in making sure we have an approach towards tackling climate change and that we have the discussions that are necessary to meet the emissions reductions
Lorenzo Simonelli, chief executive of US energy services company Baker Hughes
Mr Simonelli highlighted the “energy trilemma” during the company’s annual meeting, held at the end of January, and outlined how the company will help to tackle it.
“The energy industry is not blind to the fact that it has its role to play. It needs to reduce its own emissions,” he said.
Baker Hughes’ role as an energy technology company is instrumental in the energy transition, the executive said.
“Baker Hughes is a technology energy company, we made our pledge in 2019 to reduce our emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050 on scope 1 and scope 2.”
Mr Simonelli said several steps were needed.
“First let us take the technology we have today and deploy it at scale,” he said, giving the examples of ending flaring and stopping leaks as ways to reduce damage.
“Secondly, it is about investing in new areas.”
Among those areas is carbon capture, utilisation and storage, the circular economy around carbon dioxide use and hydrogen comprehension.
“Developing technologies and bringing them to the market also requires all stake holders, non-governmental organisations, the government and the industry as a whole to work together in making the right policies and the right investments,” Mr Simonelli said.
“Energy is necessary for the progression of humanity. It is an aspect that many still do not have, with over 600 million people who still don’t have access to energy.
“The developing world needs to develop and it is their right to have energy as well … the discussions of just transition has to be part of the dialogue going forward.”