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Pfizer Vaccine Wanes After a Couple of Months; Rising COVID Cases Among Children in England; Interview with Infectious Disease and Global Health Expert Dr. Peter Drobac; UAE's Energy Investment. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired October 07, 2021 - 02:00:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. And I'm Rosemary Church. Just ahead. With trade and security issues mounting and tensions on the rise, the U.S. and Chinese president are planning for a virtual summit in the weeks ahead.

A major breakthrough in the battle against Malaria that could save hundreds of thousands of lives a year. Plus, Dubai's ruler responds after the U.K.'s high court found he use spyware to hack his ex-wife and her inner circle.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Good to have you with us. With U.S.-China relations sinking to new lows, President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping plan to hold a virtual meeting before the end of the year. Senior U.S. officials says details will be worked out in the coming days. The leaders have spoken by phone only twice since Joe Biden took office. Top diplomats reached the agreement for that virtual meeting during six hours of talks in Switzerland.

The U.S. raised concerns about Taiwan, Hong Kong and human rights. China urged the U.S. to stop interfering in its internal affairs. Meanwhile, Taiwan released this video of its own military drills as tensions with Beijing escalate. A record number of Chinese warplanes have flown through Taiwan's defensive airspace in recent days. U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is calling on Beijing to end the provocations.


ANTONY BLINKEN, UNITED STATES SERETARY OF STATE: The activity is destabilizing. It risks miscalculation, and it has the potential to undermine regional peace and stability. So we strongly urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure incursion directed to Taiwan.


CHURCH: And CNN's Ivan Watson is following all of this for us. He joins us live from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Ivan. So, just how dangerous of these rising tensions between Taiwan and China and where do things stand with U.S.-China relations right now?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, there are two separate issues. There is Taiwan and the muscle flexing -- the military muscle flexing that China conducted over the course of a long holiday weekend which has since tapered off. There has not -- there was one military flight into Taiwan's air defense identification zone on Tuesday, after a record number of 56 fights on Monday, and no reports of military warplanes flying in on Wednesday.

The concerns, of course, are that these two entities are quite close and they're armed and that there could be a miscalculation. And on top of that there are the activities of U.S. warships, and other warships transiting the Taiwan straits which China does not like. And anytime you have large militaries in close contact, things can go wrong. And I think that gets back to the point of the direct communication now between the U.S. and Chinese governments.

The meeting in Switzerland between President Biden's national security adviser and the senior Chinese official Yang Jiechi. That followed a phone call between Biden and President Xi of China of nearly a month ago. And the White House has said it wants this communication to have responsible competition between the world's two largest economies to have some senior level engagement, presumably to avert a worst case scenario as these two countries are clearly rivals right now.

And the meeting that took place in Switzerland, it sounds from both the Chinese and the American sides that it was far more productive than the last time these officials met six months ago in Alaska, where they traded barbs for an extended period in front of the press. This was behind closed doors. The American side says that there's an agreement in principle for some kind of a virtual summit between the years end.

And there does seem to be a mechanism for direct communication, even though there are clearly still a whole host of areas where these two governments still disagree among them, Taiwan, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Our Ivan Watson bringing us the very latest on that from his vantage point there in Hong Kong. Appreciate it.


CHURCH: Well, Southern Pakistan has been rocked by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake. At least 20 people are confirmed dead including a number of children. Hundreds more injured. The epicenter was near the remote mountain village of Harnai, about 100 kilometers east of Quetta. It struck in the middle of the night while most people of course was sleeping. Power was knocked out and rescuers had to work with flashlights.

The quake triggered a rock slide that blocked the road into the village, further hampering rescue efforts.

A bitter custody battle between Dubai's leader and his ex-wife has taken a surprising turn. England's High Courts is the ruler use spyware to monitor his wife and her inner circle. CNN's Nina Dos Santos has the details.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: England's High Court ruled that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai ordered his agents to hack into the phones of his former wife, Princess Haya as well as her legal team. As security advisors are the members of our staff and most troubling a member of the U.K. House of Lords, Baroness Fiona Shackleton.

The barrister who is representing Princess Haya in an ongoing and increasingly acrimonious custody battle, she is embroiled in with Mohammed over the two children, a boy and a girl that the couple's share. Well, Princess Haya to Dubai two years ago bound for the U.K. in the company of her young son and daughter, saying she had become increasingly concerned about the welfare of two daughters of Sheikh Mohammed by previous marriages in Dubai, who appear to be being held in the emirate against their will after having been recaptured trying to flee.

Sir Andrew McFarlane, the U.K.'s most senior family judge said that the findings in this case represented what he called an abuse of trust and an abuse of power. He also said that they were part of a sustained campaign of intimidation and threats leveled against Princess Haya that left her feeling terribly unsafe. Well, Princess Haya appears to have been targeted alongside her team with the notorious Pegasus software.

This is a spyware that has been made by the Israeli cyber security firm NSO which has been proven to be used by authoritarian regimes to crack down on journalists and also on human rights activists. Its use in a UK court case on British soil will be deeply troubling. It is also embarrassing for a very prominent figure here in the U.K. Sheikh Mohammed, thanks to his love of horse racing, enjoys warm relations with the monarch, Her Majesty the Queen.

And the UAE has recently cemented a multibillion dollar investment deal with post-Brexit Britain. Sheikh Mohammed disputed the judgment saying in a statement that it painted an incomplete picture. As part of his statement, he said, I have always denied the allegations made against me. And I continue to do so. Nina Dos Santos CNN in London.

CHURCH: And one researcher out the Internet Security watchdog group Citizen Lab has been monitoring the use of Pegasus spyware around the world. And he says this ruling shows the need for greater regulation of surveillance companies.


BILL MARCZAK, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW, CITIZEN LAB: I think that governments need tools to investigate crime and to uphold national security. The problem comes when you have companies selling these tools and those companies are not subject to very effective regulation. Or those companies are mainly motivated by, you know, trying to expand their customer base or trying to improve the valuation of their company, rather than looking at, you know, how this technology is being used and what is the impact.

So I think that ultimately, companies like NSO or companies that produce the same sorts of tools as NSO are here to stay. But I think that's why it's more important than ever that we need to achieve better regulation of the industry.


CHURCH: And the Israeli software firm NSO has previously said it will cut off access if it discovers misuse of its Pegasus software. The World Health Organization is hailing what it calls a breakthrough against a disease that's been stalking Africa. It's giving the go ahead to the first Malaria vaccine which will be used in children. Malaria has been deadlier than COVID in Africa, which is home to more than 90 percent of Malaria cases.

The most vulnerable victims are children under five. They account for more than a quarter million deaths in Africa alone every year. The WHO says the vaccine which has been decades in the making significantly reduces deadly severe Malaria by 30 percent. And for more, David McKenzie joins us now live from Johannesburg. Good to see you, David. So, half of all deaths from Malaria involve African children. So what will this Malaria vaccine mean for the continent?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it will mean a great deal. And, you know, the word historic is thrown around a lot these days. But there certainly is a historic moment for public health. You mentioned 30 percent effective against severe disease. That might not seem that high, but when it's combined with other measures, and that's the plan. Give the vaccine to children. Have them sleep and bed nets that are impregnated with insecticide and give them prophylactic medication during the very severe seasons of Malaria.

It becomes up to 70 percent which is hugely significant for African children. Now, the move by the WHO comes after a several-year expanded pilot program in Kenya, Ghana, and Malawi, countries that have been obviously like many other severely affected by Malaria. And that study showed that actually, this administration could work very well. And it has a real impact. 260,000 children a year and the age of five and Africa in 2021 are dying of this disease.

And it's also huge medical breakthrough, to be able to have a vaccine that can combat a parasite versus the virus is also hugely significant. Here's the head of the WHO.


TEDROS ADHANOM, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Community demand for the vaccine is strong. It has broad reach to children, including the most vulnerable, who may not use a bed net, thereby expanding access to preventive measures to children at risk. It is safe. It significantly reduces life threatening severe Malaria. And we estimated to be highly cost effective.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MCKENZIE: Well, for decades, this has been in the works. And frankly, for generations of scientists. This is one of the big riddles of public health, given just how devastating Malaria is, especially on the African continent. Rosemary?

CHURCH: And David, talk to us about how this vaccine is administered.

MCKENZIE: Well, it's relatively complicated. Well, at least that's what people thought that three doses as a very young children and then there's an 18-month gap, and then a fourth dose. Now that was seen as possibly a stumbling block. But what public health officials in those countries have seen is that if they fold it into the routine immunization that children already get like for TB and polio, this really is an impactful and easy, relatively easy vaccine to administer.

It also has -- it's relatively cheap. GlaxoSmithKline has promised that that's the main developer of this together with the Malaria Initiative to sell it at just above cost. They're looking for funding. The next step will be whether the institutions like Gavi, the vaccine alliance, will also sign up to this to allow to get widespread distribution throughout the Malaria belt here in Africa. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. David McKenzie, many thanks. Bring us up to date on that incredible move there. Appreciate it.

Well, illegal wind for abortion rights advocates in the U.S. a federal judges issued an order blocking the controversial Texas ban on abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy. The judge granted a request from the Justice Department saying from the moment the law went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the constitution. Texas has already indicated it will appeal.

Well, coming up next here on CNN NEWSROOM. An exclusive report on the role Ethiopia's flagship commercial airline has played in the brutal civil war in the Tigray region. Plus, a popular Jewish musician was brought to tears after a reported anti-Semitic incident at a hotel in Germany. Why he says the staff refused him service. That's coming up.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, the U.N. Secretary General is demanding Ethiopia provide proof of its accusations against U.S. -- U.N. staff members. Several were expelled from the country last week with the Ethiopian government alleging they made up data. Claimed people were starving to death and we're supporting the fighters in Tigray. Ethiopia's U.N. Ambassador detail the accusations during a Security Council meeting Wednesday, and was made with an emphatic response from Antonio Guterres.


TAYE ATSKE SELASSIE AMDE, ETHIOPIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: They assisted in fabrication of false allegations submitted to the U.N. Security Council, the former head of (INAUDIBLE) was made to report to this council, 152 Ethiopians died due to food shortage. While such incident had never occurred. They made up the data and went to the extent of this informing this global security body.

They openly conducted activism in support of TPLF, a group prescribed as terrorists and make political statements that instigate violence and inflame the conscience of the Ethiopian public. They assisted stiffening foot medicine, communication equipment, all other essential supplies and equipment and transfer to TPLF. We believe the U.N. agencies and their honorable role are undermined by this few individuals.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY GENERAL: For us, the question is very simple. We believe that the GOP has not the right to expel these eight members of the U.N. We believe that Europe is violating international law in doing so. And we are ready to cooperate with the government of Ethiopia in relation to any situation in which the government of Ethiopia feels that any member of the U.N. is not behaving in total impartiality, in total independence as humanitarian law prescribes.


CHURCH: Ethiopia has for decades been the beneficiary of a U.S. government trade agreement, granting hundreds of millions of dollars of favorable access to U.S. markets. Allowing Ethiopian Airlines in recent years to build a global fleet and become one of the world's leading airlines. For both the U.S. and Ethiopia, this relationship matters. But for almost a year now conflict has raged in Ethiopia's Tigray region.

Numerous CNN investigations have uncovered evidence of Ethiopian government atrocities. CNN has now found evidence that Ethiopian Airlines cargo carriers have been shuffling weapons between Ethiopia and Eritrea, in what experts believe may constitute a violation of international law and the trade agreement with the U.S. Here's Nima Elbagir.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With direct flights from over 95 international destinations fly Ethiopian Airlines, the new spirit of Africa. A star Alliance member.

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: State-owned Ethiopian Airlines is Africa's premier carrier of passenger and freight traffic. But I'm among the regular cargo, evidence of sinister shipments.


ELBAGIR: CNN can reveal based on documentary evidence and witnesses accounts, Ethiopian Airlines has been transporting weapons between Ethiopia and Eritrea since the beginning of the war in Ethiopia that has seen thousands killed. According to aviation experts, this would constitute a violation of aviation law. Among the evidence are these stills that were taken onboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET3313 and verified by CNN.

It's the middle of the night. This cargo plane is being loaded by hand, a slow and unorthodox method. But look closer. This isn't usual cargo. Inside these boxes are mortars. They are being loaded onto this civilian aircraft and transported from Eritrea to Ethiopia. Here is the cargo manifest corroborating the day and time. November 8th, 2020. The date is significant. It's just four days into the conflict and months before Eritrea officially admits to being involved.

Ethiopia has been at war with the Tigray regional government, the Tigray People's Liberation Front for almost a year. Eritrea to the North has become the Ethiopian government's ally against the region of Tigray. An unusual alliance as the countries were previously at war with each other. Now they have a common enemy, Tigray and they are sharing weaponry.

CNN, CNN, were CNN journalist.

CNN has been reporting on atrocities in Ethiopia since the beginning of the year.

If you want to have detained a CNN team, then that's what's happened out because we're not going to the camp willingly.

We traveled to Tigray last April and so for ourselves, Eritrean troops Manning checkpoints with impunity, while the Ethiopian government denied their presence on the ground. That relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea began months earlier in November 2020, which coincided with an increase in the movement of weapons, shuttled back and forth from the Ethiopian capital to Eritrea.

During the same month, there was also a series of massacres in the region of Tigray. An Ethiopian Airlines employee turned whistleblower spoke to CNN about how he had to deal with an unusual request.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The plane was carrying perishable goods. I had to deal with my bosses to unload some of the goods and load the weapons.

ELBAGIR: In various statements, Ethiopian Airlines has always adamantly denied fairing arms on passenger or cargo planes. But in addition to speaking with whistleblowers, verifying cargo manifest and authentically think stills, CNN has obtained airway bill receipts that show at least six occasions in November, where Ethiopian the open airlines build the Ethiopian Ministry of Defense to ship military items, including guns and ammunition to Eritrea.

MICHAEL A. RAYNOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ETHIOPIA: In the end, the success of Ethiopian Airlines is an important and impressive symbol of the limitless potential of the U.S. Ethiopian partnership.

ELBAGIR: If you've been airlines built its cargo dominance the relationship with the U.S. government and American aviation giant Boeing. These new CNN findings together with previous investigations into atrocities committed by Ethiopian forces would constitute violations of international law, according to aviation experts and run contrary to the terms of that relationship with the U.S. government.

Whether This forces the U.S. to act substantively against the Ethiopian government remains to be seen. Nima Elbagir CNN London.

CHURCH: Responding to CNN's latest investigation, Ethiopian airline said it complies with all aviation regulations and "to the best of its knowledge and its records it has not transported any war armament in any of its routes by any of its aircraft." A U.S. trade spokesperson told CNN they would review eligibility for the U.S.-African Growth and Opportunity Act next year, which will be based "Upon compliance with standards that include adherence to internationally recognized worker's rights, rule of law and human rights.

After the review, the U.S. Trade Representative could possibly recommend that the U.S. president add or remove certain countries from AGOA a beneficiary country status. Aircraft manufacturer Boeing said they had no comment for this story, and the Ethiopian and Eritrean Governments did not respond to requests for comment.


CHURCH: A popular Jewish singer fears anti-Semitism is on the rise again in Germany. He says he fell victim to a clear cut discrimination as he was trying to check in at a hotel in Leipzig. He told CNN's Frederik Pleitgen what happened next.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jewish- German musician Gil Ofarim close to tears. In this video he posted on Instagram right after he said staff at this hotel in Eastern Germany told him they wouldn't allow him to check in unless he concealed a necklace bearing the Star of David.

GIL OFARIM, MUSICIAN: He told me to put away (INAUDIBLE) my David Star. And I was really shocked and looked over to the other person and he just repeated the same sentence.

PLEITGEN: Gil Ofarim is a big star in Germany with thousands of fans. But he tells me the moment he was singled out and denied service for being Jewish he never felt more alone.

Did anyone come to your aid? I mean, you would think when something like that happens that someone would jump in and support you, right?

OFARIM: No, no support, no one like speaking up. No one.

PLEITGEN: Gil Ofarim's video has gone viral in Germany, hundreds protested outside the hotel to support him. And in this statement, the Westin Hotel part of the Marriott Group says it has launched an investigation, "Our goal is to integrate support and respect all our guests and employees, no matter which religion they believe in. The employee's concern have been suspended and we will clarify the issue without compromises. But Gil Ofarim says so far, the hotel has not apologized to him.

OFARIM: No, there was no apology, there was no statement, there was nothing.

PLEITGEN: On the same day as the incident and the German hotel of the Auschwitz Memorial announced that barracks at the former Nazi extermination camp, where more than a million mostly Jewish people were killed had been desecrated with anti-Semitic graffiti.

Jewish groups have long been warning of a massive rise in anti- Semitism in Europe. The coronavirus pandemic has only made things worse with conspiracy theorists like QAnon moving anti-Semitism more into the mainstream. The head of the American Jewish Committee in Berlin tells me.

REMKO LEEMHUIS, AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE BERLIN: During this protest, we have registered hundreds of anti-Semitic incidents. Not necessarily crimes, but anti-Semitic incidents. And this has definitely fueled the rise of anti-Semitism Germany over the last year.


PLEITGEN: And Gil Ofarim continues to say that he's absolutely shocked by this incident. He also says that he's not sure whether or not he's going to press charges against the hotel and possibly some of the staff but he says what he really wants is for there to be fundamental action against anti-Semitism here in Germany. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.

CHURCH: And still to come, COVID-related absences are up in schools in England. Why health experts are worried about these disruptions in education after the break.

Plus, the UAE is a top oil producer but now it's embracing alternative forms of energy. Why renewable energy is important to the future of the Emirates. That still to come.



CHURCH: The number of new COVID infections is dropping in Latin America even though only 37 percent of people there and in the Caribbean are fully vaccinated. The Pan American Health Organization says while several countries in the region have vaccinated more than 70 percent of their population, there are others where the vaccination rate is still well 20 percent. The organization says it's important to close this gap as quickly as possible. PAQH announced -- or PAHO announced Wednesday that it has closed vaccine supply agreements with Sinovac, Sinopharm, and AstraZeneca.

Well, meantime, researchers are urging those who have received the Pfizer vaccine to continue to take precautions against COVID-19 infections. New studies confirmed that the immunity after two doses of the vaccine wanes after about a couple of months. Although, protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death remains strong.

In England, coronavirus cases appear to be rising among children. It's been about above since school started. A new data reveals that COVID related absences jumped by two-thirds during their last two weeks of September. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to keep schools open this academic year after the pandemic disrupted education for months.

Infectious disease and global health expert, Dr. Peter Drobac joins me now from Oxford England.

Thank you, Doctor, for talking with us and for all that you do.


CHURCH: So, while many countries are saying COVID infections fall, government figures in England show the number of kids out of school due to COVID-19 rose by two-third in the last couple of weeks. What do you think is behind this rise?

DROBAC: Well, this is really a predictable rise. You know, as kids return to school a few weeks ago, just about all mitigation to protect kids were lifted and, you know, the government is banking on the fact that levels of vaccinations amongst adults are very high and the belief that because in many kids COVID infection is mild that it can really be tolerated.

And this is really, in a way, almost a herd immunity argument that we remember from 2020 coming back. So, what we're really seeing is that any mitigants, increased ventilation, considerations of mask wearing for children have been deprioritized. And what we're going to see overtime, the expectation is that all kids in schools will eventually get COVID infection rather than waiting for them to have access to vaccination.

CHURCH: Yes. So, no masks, no vaccines. And even if a student test positive the school doesn't have to tell any of the kids. So, talk to us about the best advice for COVID-19 guidance in schools to ensure these children and their teachers are safe. Because there's very little confidence in the current guidelines in England according to a recent poll.

DROBAC: That's right. Now, everyone agrees that it's extremely important to get kids back in school, that face to face education is critical. So, no one is arguing that kid should be kept home. However, a lot more could be done to keep kids safe. I think there's good evidence that mask wearing for children 12 and older, as it's done in many countries, is safe and effective and doesn't harm education at that level. A lot of investment could have been made in improving ventilation in schools, for what we know is an airborne virus. Carbon dioxide monitors can help give indication of where ventilation is inadequate.

And regular testing and contact tracing and all the usual public health measures that we know work could be employed more regularly here. Those would be some steps to strike the balance. The other thing would be a more aggressive rollout of vaccination and a full court of vaccination for kids 12 and older where we're seeing the highest rates of transmission.


CHURCH: Yes, let's look at that because children aged five to 11 in the United States are expected to get access to the COVID vaccine in just a matter of weeks from now. When might that happen in the U.K. given children 12 to 15 there are only just now being offered a single dose? And why do you think it is taking so long to get kids vaccinated in the U.K.?

DROBAC: This is been a curious one. The JCBI, the advisory group on vaccinations, has really been slow to push for this. And we saw only a couple of weeks ago them finally open up the option for vaccination of kids 12 to 16, but only a single dose, which is not being done anywhere. And what they say is that a single dose gives about 55 percent protection. There's clearly, now, a balance of evidence that suggests that the benefits of vaccination, a full course of vaccination in kids 12 and up outweighs any of the risk, which are really fairly minimal as more data come in.

So, I don't know just what exactly is driving this. If it's a supply issue. But I think, at this time, there is strong evidence that all kids 12 and up should be given a full course of vaccination, I wish we would've done so before the school year started. And I am concerned that we're going to be slow to follow suit once the data come in for kids under 12.

CHURCH: Yes. It is -- it's been incredible comparing how different countries have approached this, particularly when it comes to protection of our children. Dr. Peter Drobac, thank you so much for talking with us. Appreciate it.

DROBAC: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well still ahead here on CNN, from fossil fuels to solar, nuclear, and beyond. Why the Emirates are investing so much in energy alternatives after a short break.


CHURCH: Well, after years of holding out, Turkey's parliament has finally ratified the Paris Climate Agreement five years after signing it. Turkey had previously argued, it shouldn't be considered a developed country in the agreement which comes with additional responsibilities. The Turkish president said, nations that produce the most carbon emissions should take on bigger rolls.


RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (through translator): Unlike the past, this time, no one can afford the luxury to say, I am too powerful, so I will not pay the bill. Because climate change treats mankind quite equally. It treats everyone exactly the same regardless of the differences between the European or the Asian, American or the African, the richer or the poor.


CHURCH: The United Arab Emirates is starting to pivot from its lifeblood of oil to cleaner forms of energy. It's invested a lot of money in a unique and immense solar power plants and is counting on its success to reach some lofty goals. CNN's Becky Anderson has that report.



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voiceover): Deep in the Sweihan Desert lies an ocean of silicon and steel. Nawah Abu Dhabi is the largest single site solar power plant. Stretching over three- square miles, it's at the heart of the UAE's pivot from fossil fuels to clean energy sources.

OTHMAN AL ALI, CEO, EMIRATES WATER AND ELECTRICITY COMPANY: It reaches up to 49 to 55 Celsius in the summer.

ANDERSON (voiceover): Othman Al Ali, the CEO of the Emirates Water and Electricity Company in Abu Dhabi is one of the people leading this energy transition.

AL ALI: We are on an ambitious path to increase the solar capacity connected to the grid by 8 gigawatts by 2030. That will mean it delivers 50 percent of our energy in Abu Dhabi from clean and renewable source.

ANDERSON (on camera): Is that realistically, that target?

AL ALI: Definitely realistic and definitely achievable. Our plans are already to be implemented.

ANDERSON (voiceover): Back in 2017, the nation pledged that half of its energy would be clean by 2050.

The UAE is also investing in nuclear. And when fully operational, the four reactors here at the Barakah Plant will supply up to a quarter of the country's electricity needs.

AL ALI: Nuclear energy is a fundamental part of UAE energy system. It will provide about 40 to 50 percent of the UAE base load requirement and that (INAUDIBLE) be an absolutely carbon free energy.

ANDERSON (voiceover): The shift to clean energy around the world won't be cheap. The U.N.'s partner Renewable Energy says to meet the global push to keep temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees, the world will need to cough up more than $130 trillion before 2050. Significant sums have already been pledged, but convincing governments and markets that this all makes economic sense will be a big challenge.

GAURI SINGH, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, GENERAL INTERNATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY AGENCY: What our analysis also shows is for every million dollars spent in the energy transition technologies would lead to three times more jobs getting created. So, it's not just makes sense in terms of climate action but it's also a makes sense in terms of economics and the politics of it.

ANDERSON (voiceover): While the UAE is yet to set a net zero goal, the Emirates sees the opportunities laid out by the International Renewable Energy Agency as key drivers for its future economic growth as it weens itself off its heavy reliance on fossil fuels. And while OPEC's 3rd largest producer will continue to sell oil, this solar plant is evidence it has not just the ambition, but the means to chart a cleaner future.

Becky Anderson, CNN, Abu Dhabi.


CHURCH: And all week long, join us for more reporting on climate and biodiversity as part of Dubai Expo 2020 right here on CNN.

And thanks so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. World Sport is up next. And I'll be back at the top of the hour.