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COP28 – What do you need to know?

COP28 proved to be a landmark summit as the world agreed to transition away from fossil fuels for the first time.

The Consultus International Group, as a leading energy consultant and Net Zero delivery partner, have watched on with great interest, as COP28 events unfolded in Dubai.

An unprecedented deal, at the UN climate conference, calls on all countries to actively seek sustainable alternatives to fossil energy sources and, eventually, phase them out.

Yeliz Azim, who has come through our Graduate Scheme to join the Net Zero team, has been following this historic stance, taken by global leaders. Her summary is as follows: –

Yeliz Azim

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is an annual event organised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

COP meetings are crucial international forums where countries discuss and negotiate global efforts to combat climate change. These conferences play a significant role in shaping international climate policy.

This year’s COP took place in Dubai with the presidency of the owner of a big oil company, Sultan al-Jaber.

With COP28 now concluded, we’re thrilled to bring you a comprehensive summary of the pivotal developments in the meetings.

💰 Financial Innovations

  • Loss & Damage Fund – Agreed on operationalisation at the World Bank, starting with $420 million. They are ready to capitalise it in the next COP.
  • ALTÉRRA Fund – A ground-breaking $20 billion catalyst for climate solutions, focussing on scaling in emerging economies.
  • Deploying Climate Finance – Paving the way for a global climate finance framework, making climate finance more accessible and affordable. The UAE Declaration on a global climate finance framework highlights the necessity of making climate finance accessible and affordable.
  • Climate Tech Innovation for Emerging Markets – The Innovate for Climate Tech coalition, launched by Masdar City, Tencent and Catalyst, signifies the importance of technology in catalysing climate action. Intending to connect and strengthen climate tech ecosystems, this initiative aligns with beliefs in the transformative power of innovative solutions.

🌱 Sustainable Commitment

  • Global Decarbonisation Accelerator (GDA) – Launched to decarbonise the energy system and triple renewables, as well as double energy efficiency, by 2030.
  • Industrial Transition Accelerator (ITA) – Introduced for Paris-aligned ambitions, representing 65 per cent of global emissions.
  • O&G Decarbonisation Charter – There are 50 companies pledging to reach Net Zero by 2050, across emissions scopes.
  • Nuclear Energy – A total of 22 countries are advocating for tripling capacity by 2050.
  • Sustainable Agriculture Declaration – The COP28 UAE Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action, signed by over 130 countries, echoes our commitment to transforming food systems for a sustainable future.

💡 Innovations

  • Joint Framework – This aims to ensure the integrity of voluntary carbon markets.
  • SME Decarbonisation – Recognising the role of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the transition, the COP28 & SME Climate Hub for MENA aims to support SMEs in making a realistic set of Net Zero commitments.
  • Transition Credits – Enabling early retirement of coal-fired power plants. Supply agreements for forest carbon credits and the World Bank’s roadmap for scaling high-integrity forest carbon credits represent significant steps.
  • CFTC Draft Rules – These guidelines are released for carbon credits traded on exchanges.
  • Fast-track Emissions Reduction – The global stocktake revealed a concerning warming trajectory. This goal is echoed in the launch of the Global Decarbonisation Accelerator (GDA), focussing on transforming the current energy system and building the energy infrastructure of the future.
  • Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions Vehicles – Commitments to triple renewables and double energy efficiency, along with lighthouse projects for zero-emission buses, highlight the pivotal role of technology in achieving climate targets.
  • Green Business Opportunities – The surge in demand for zero-carbon technologies presents an opportunity for companies to build new green businesses.

📊 Global Initiatives

  • Global Stocktake Discussion – It is a process to assess the progress made towards limiting global warming below 2. So far, parties only started to respond to the issue politically and coming up with a shared narrative has proven to be very difficult.
  • Methane Emissions Focus – Calls for improved monitoring and reporting, highlighted in the US-China-UAE summit.
  • Coal Phase Out Commitments – There are 10 countries committing to phasing out unabated coal (Indonesia, Vietnam, Poland, South Korea, Egypt, Spain, Nepal, Singapore, Chile and Ukraine).
  • Net Zero Utilities Alliance (UNEZA) – Announced, emphasising the need to double grid infrastructure investment for net-zero goals. Grid infrastructure investment needs to double to meet net-zero goals.
  • Just Transition Pathways Programme – Parties engaged in discussions on a streamlined draft CMA decision, exploring options and identifying potential areas for further streamlining, including considerations of the timeline, institutional arrangements, modalities, interlinkages and outcomes of the work program. There hasn`t been a consensus on the scope of the program yet.
  • Global Goal on Adaptation – Looking at the other pillars of this COP which are mitigation and compensation, the adaptation appears to be lagging.

🌎 Global Resilience and Health

  • Climate and Health Declaration – Signed by 123 countries, putting health at the centre of climate action. Climate and health are intertwined, as evidenced by the Climate and Health Declaration. With up to 3.6 billion people highly vulnerable to climate change, this commitment is crucial. This aligns with the emphasis on ensuring a just transition, especially for vulnerable populations in emerging economies.
  • UAE Declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery, and Peace – This declaration has been endorsed by 74 countries and 40 organisations.
  • $1 Billion Financing Commitments – Announced for climate and health.
  • Emirates Declaration – Global leaders committing to sustainable agriculture, resilient food systems and climate action.
  • Freshwater Challenge – The commitment by over 30 countries to this challenge aligns with recognition of the interconnectivity between climate change and water systems. Conserving freshwater ecosystems is crucial for ensuring a sustainable future.
  • Regenerative Agriculture – The acceleration of regenerative agriculture, which will come through a $2.2 billion investment, demonstrates the importance of sustainable farming practices.

Final Thoughts

COP28 has proven instrumental in forging a transformative path toward a sustainable energy landscape. With a spotlight on fast-tracking emissions reduction, deploying climate finance, increasing adaptation and ensuring inclusivity, the conference witnessed ground-breaking financial innovations, sustainable commitments and a surge in technological advancements.

Notable highlights include the operationalisation of the Loss & Damage Fund, the ALTÉRRA Fund’s $20 billion commitment, and the launch of the Global Decarbonisation Accelerator (GDA). The intersection of climate initiatives and health was evident through the Climate and Health Declaration, emphasising a just transition for vulnerable populations.

The accord does not explicitly pledge to phase out or reduce the use of fossil fuels, despite the urging of nations, civil society organisations and experts.

Rather than that, a compromise was achieved, asking nations to join forces to move the world’s energy systems away from fossil fuels “in a just, orderly, and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science.” (The Guardian, 2023).

Taking into consideration the agreement on fossil fuels, countries will now be required to set “ambitious, economy-wide” emissions reduction targets spanning all greenhouse gases and limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees over the following two years (Financial Times, 2023).

The article does, however, acknowledge that the targets should be determined in consideration of various national conditions, a reference to the idea that developing nations may find it more challenging than developed nations to reduce emissions.

The main topic of discussion at COP28, held in the United Arab Emirates, one of the major producers of petrol and oil in the world, was the future role of fossil fuels. According to diplomats, Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations strongly advocated for a flimsy deal.

As we navigate the complex global initiatives and discussions, COP28 has set the stage for collective action, underscoring the urgency of a resilient Net Zero future. The commitments to renewable energy, decarbonisation and sustainable agriculture reflect a shared vision for a healthier planet.

We`re committed to keeping you abreast of these transformative developments, helping you navigate the evolving landscape, and shaping a sustainable energy future. Let’s collaborate to drive meaningful change!

Sources: 

Conversations on COP28. (n.d.). McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/sustainability/how-we-help-clients/cop/videos/conversations-on-cop28

Countries reach ‘historic’ COP28 deal to transition from fossil fuels. (n.d.). Financial Times. https://www.ft.com/content/3ffd821c-6200-4808-b16d-ac9cb2207f11

Morton, A., Greenfield, P., Harvey, F., & Lakhani, N. (2023, December 13). Cop28 landmark deal agreed to ‘transition away’ from fossil fuels. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/dec/13/cop28-landmark-deal-agreed-to-transition-away-from-fossil-fuels

UN Climate Change Conference – United Arab Emirates Nov/Dec 2023. (1995, February 1). IISD Earth Negotiations Bulletin. https://enb.iisd.org/united-arab-emirates-climate-change-conference-cop28

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