COP 28 needs to see words translated into action, as carbon emissions have to peak in 2025

Next week sees the start of the critical COP 28 meeting. It is vitally important. The first major milestone under the Paris Agreement is now just a year away:

“To limit global warming to 1.5°C, greenhouse gas emissions must peak before 2025 at the latest and decline 43% by 2030”.

Unfortunately, the outlook is not promising. As the UN Environment Programme report:

“The world is heading for a temperature rise far above the Paris Agreement goals unless countries deliver more than they have promised.”

A new Report from global energy watchdog, the International Energy Agency summarises the issue:

“Producers must choose between contributing to a deepening climate crisis or becoming part of the solution by embracing the shift to clean energy.”

UNEP’s chart highlights the problem. It confirms that global coal production is set to increase until at least 2030. And global oil and gas production is expected to rise until at least 2050. As UNEP warn:

“The combined levels of coal, oil, and gas production being planned/projected by 10 high-income countries alone would exceed 1.5°C-consistent pathways for each fuel by 2040.

“The trajectories of oil and gas production being planned and projected by 12 countries with relatively lower levels of economic dependence on their production would also exceed the respective 1.5°C-consistent pathways by 2040.”

The IEA is clearly very worried about the positions being taken by many of the main oil and gas producers, noting:

“The oil and gas sector – which provides more than half of global energy supply and employs nearly 12 million workers worldwide – has been a marginal force at best in transitioning to a clean energy system.

“It currently accounts for just 1% of clean energy investment globally – and 60% of that comes from just four companies.”

The negotiations will focus on how, or whether, countries will agree to align their current climate plans with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C and ‘well-below-2C’ warming target.

PHASING DOWN DEMAND FOR FOSSIL FUELS IS ESSENTIAL

The key issue is the urgent need to start “phasing down” fossil fuels.

  • COP 26 in Glasgow discussed phasing down coal power in 2021
  • COP 27 in Egypt discussed phasing down all fossil fuels in 2022

Now the COP 28 UAE presidency has stated that:

“Phasing down demand for, and supply of, all fossil fuels is inevitable and essential”.

But so far, there is no agreement on this objective. As Carbon Brief comment:

“Some parties have said they will prioritise a complete fossil-fuel phaseout. Others have emphasised a phaseout only of “unabated” fossil fuels or rejected the idea entirely.

“Still others have pushed more specific targets such as an end to coal or fossil-fuel subsidies.”

More positively, however, the G20 group of major economies in September backed a call to triple global renewable capacity. 

Much therefore depends on developments in the UAE over the next couple of weeks. As the UN’s top climate official warned at the weekend:

“Every year of the baby steps we’ve been taking up to this point means that we need to be taking bigger leaps with each following year, if we are to stay in this race. The science is absolutely clear.”