Friday, July 12, 2024
 
 

COP28 reaches compromise deal to transition away from fossil fuels

Plans to triple renewable energy and to double energy efficiency by 2030

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The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) closed on December 13 with a compromise deal. Instead of “phase out” or “phase down,” the agreement calls for the “beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era by laying the ground for a swift, just and equitable transition, underpinned by deep emissions cuts and scaled-up climate finance.

“Whilst we didn’t turn the page on the fossil fuel era in Dubai, this outcome is the beginning of the end,” said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell in his closing speech. “Now all governments and businesses need to turn these pledges into real-economy outcomes, without delay.”

Alberto Troccoli, the managing director of World Energy & Meteorology Council at the School of Environmental Studies at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, told NE Global on December 14 it is the first time any COP agreement calls for the world to curb fossil fuels. Moreover, they agreed to triple renewable energy and to double energy efficiency, both by 2030. “COP28 can be considered as having reached a historic consensus with the explicit mention of fossil fuel and strong quantifiable targets in terms of renewable energy generation and energy efficiency,” he said.

However, the stronger term “phase-out of fossil fuels,” which had been backed by 130 of the 198 countries negotiating at COP28 was blocked by petrostates including Saudi Arabia.

“It is somewhat disappointing though that the fossil fuel mention has been watered down from the suggested ‘phase out of’ to the ‘transitioning away from’ formulation, because of a powerful minority of countries, with clear vested interests in maintaining control of, and financial gain from, fossil fuel production and supply,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the final COP28 pledge will make the process of reducing fossil fuel essentially unaccountable, except for the clearly stated target of achieving net zero by 2050, which could however be interpreted by the fossil fuel industry as buying more time to implement the unlikely and unproven massive-scale carbon capture and storage technology,” Troccoli explained.

“Nonetheless, from an international negotiation point of view, which is a notoriously complex and lengthy process, COP28 can certainly in my view be written down as a success as it provides an overall step change akin to Paris 2015 compared to the typical mostly languid COP,” Troccoli added.

In a demonstration of global solidarity, negotiators from nearly 200 Parties came together in Dubai with a decision on the world’s first “global stocktake” to ratchet up climate action before the end of the decade – with the overarching aim to keep the global temperature limit of 1.5°C within reach, the UN said in a press release.

The global stocktake is considered the central outcome of COP28 – as it contains every element that was under negotiation and can now be used by countries to develop stronger climate action plans due by 2025. According to the UN, the stocktake recognizes the science that indicates global greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut 43 percent by 2030, compared to 2019 levels, to limit global warming to 1.5°C. But it notes Parties are off track when it comes to meeting their Paris Agreement goals.

The stocktake calls on Parties to take actions towards achieving, at a global scale, a tripling of renewable energy capacity and doubling energy efficiency improvements by 2030. The list also includes accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power, phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, and other measures that drive the transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, with developed countries continuing to take the lead.

Funding efforts to strengthen resilience to the effects of climate change

The two-week-long conference got underway with the World Climate Action Summit, which brought together 154 Heads of States and Government. Parties reached a historic agreement on the operationalization of the loss and damage fund and funding arrangements – the first time a substantive decision was adopted on the first day of the conference. Commitments to the fund started coming in moments after the decision was gaveled, totaling more than $700 million to date, the UN said.

Climate finance took center stage at the conference, with Stiell repeatedly calling it the “great enabler of climate action.”

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) received a boost to its second replenishment with six countries pledging new funding at COP28 with total pledges now standing at a record $12.8 billion from 31 countries, with further contributions expected.

Eight donor governments announced new commitments to the Least Developed Countries Fund and Special Climate Change Fund totaling more than $174 million to date, while new pledges, totaling nearly $188 million so far, were made to the Adaptation Fund at COP28.

However as highlighted in the global stocktake, these financial pledges are far short of the trillions eventually needed to support developing countries with clean energy transitions, implementing their national climate plans and adaptation efforts, the UN said.

In parallel with the formal negotiations, the Global Climate Action space at COP28 provided a platform for governments, businesses and civil society to collaborate and showcase their real-world climate solutions.

Vestas and DTEK sign MOU on Ukraine’s largest wind energy project

An example of such collaboration was a Memorandum of Understanding signed at COP28 on December 4 between Ukraine’s DTEK Group and Denmark’s Vestas to complete the construction of the largest wind farm in Eastern Europe, a project supported by the European Commission and the governments of Ukraine and Denmark. The installed capacity of the Tyligulska Wind Power Plant will be 500 megawatts, with a total investment in excess of €650 million.


The memorandum was signed at the UN COP28 climate conference in the presence of European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson.

“Despite the challenges of war, our commitment to a green transition in Ukraine remains absolute,” DTEK CEO Maxim Timchenko said. “Indeed, the war is driving us to transform our energy system even faster as we understand that renewable energy systems are so much more resilient and secure. DTEK recently finished a windfarm – Tyligulska – just a few miles from frontline fighting and we are about to quadruple its size,” he added.

The windfarm project is aligned to the broad development of distributed generation across Ukraine – a concept approved by President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The MoU between Ukraine’s DTEK and Vestas, the world’s leading manufacturer of wind turbines, stipulates that the Danish company will supply wind turbines to Ukraine for the construction of the second stage of the Tyligulska windfarm.

The second stage of the windfarm will consist of 64 wind turbines (of 6 MW each) with a total capacity of 384 MW. The first stage with a capacity of 114 MW was commissioned in the spring of 2023.

Combined, the first and second phases of DTEK Tyligulska windfarm will have a capacity of around 500 MW (83 wind turbines). The plant will be capable of generating about 1.7 TWh of electricity annually – enough for the needs of 900,000 households. It is expected the project will save 1.7 million tons of CO2 that would otherwise be emitted.

 

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Co-founder / Director of Energy & Climate Policy and Security at NE Global Media

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