The most obvious demand is for countries to close the gap between their goals and policies. Empty promises mean nothing. Countries must implement real, tangible policies to reduce emissions.
A key pillar will be ambitious targets to scale up low-carbon technologies. In its 2023 report “Roadmap to net-zero emissions by 2050,” the International Energy Agency order triple renewable energy capacity by 2030. Almost all of it will be solar and wind. If the world wants to peak and reduce global coal production, this is essential.
It seems that this objective will be spearheaded by the European Commission. Earlier this fall, presented his position at COP28, and tripling renewable energy was fundamental to its negotiating position. The rapid rise of renewables is unlikely to be a point of contention (although the rate could be).
What will be far more contentious is the call for a “relentless” global phase-out of fossil fuels – fossil fuels burned without carbon capture or storage. This reduction is what the European Commission is asking for. Two years ago, there were heated debates about phasing out coal. In the end, a watered-down agreement was reached for a “gradual reduction “relentless coal consumption”: coal consumption was to be a smaller part of the energy mix, but would not be eliminated entirely.
Last year India called for this gradual reduction be expanded to all fossil fuels. Eighty countries (including those in the European Union) backed this proposed extension to oil and gas, but with strong resistance from others. The same dynamic can be expected this year, with some countries in fierce opposition. I’m reasonably optimistic about an ambitious target for renewables, but I’m skeptical about the likelihood of a global agreement on phasing out (or phasing out) fossil fuels.
This is worrying because the development of low-carbon technologies will not be enough to stop climate change. Real commitments to reduce fossil fuels will be essential; These need to be actively reduced as we increase solar and wind power.
Fundamentally, climate conversations are about money. This year will be no different. There will be increasing tension between developed and developing countries as rich countries have failed to meet their previous commitments to provide $100 billion per year in climate finance to help low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). ) to invest in low-carbon technologies and adapt. to climate impacts. Exactly which low- and middle-income countries should receive climate finance and how to spend it remains contentious.
Once again, talks about a “Loss and damage” fund—where rich countries that have contributed most to the problem pay for climate damage in lower-income countries—will top the agenda for low- and middle-income countries. Some countries have agreed to a preliminary project proposal in recent weeks, but will need to be finalized next month. The fund will initially be housed at the World Bank, and it has not yet been decided how much countries should contribute. I hope those conversations are heated.
Arguably the most progress occurs off the main stage, in the side discussions. Private sector investment and innovation are crucial, whether financing low-carbon projects, implementing adaptation measures or developing new technologies. Achieving net zero will require solutions from all sectors, not just electricity and transport, which dominate the headlines, but also cement, steel and agriculture. It is in the corridors where these solutions are built and partnerships are established.
I hope that COP28 leaves me in the same pessimistic-optimistic state that I find myself in today. There will be positives that will move us further, but this progress will leave us far from where we urgently need to be.