IEA’s Post-COP28 Call to Action

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    Stockholm (NordSIP) – The successes and relative failures of COP28 were revisited on Tuesday 20 February 2024 as the International Energy Agency (IEA) gathered key figures in the international climate negotiations for a roundtable discussion at the organisation’s Paris headquarters.

    Hosted by IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol, the roundtable attendees included COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber, US Special Presidential Climate Envoy John Kerry, COP21 President and former French Prime Minister Laurent Fabius, Danish Minister for Development Cooperation and Global Climate Policy Dan Jørgensen, German Special Envoy for International Climate Action Jennifer Morgan, Brazilian National Secretary for Climate Change Ana Toni, Azeri COP29 Lead Negotiator Yalchin Rafiyev, and UN Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Action and Just Transition Selwin Hart.

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    Among the commitments made at COP28 in Dubai was for the world to transition away from fossil fuels in a just and equitable manner.  The final statement has been criticised for its watered-down language and potential loopholes.  The long overdue inclusion of a reference to fossil fuels was nonetheless unanimously welcomed.  Birol reminds the audience of several other positive outcomes from the December 2023 talks such as the agreement to triple renewables capacity by 2030 and success in setting up various climate finance vehicles.  In an effort to maintain momentum, the COP28 presidency has now committed to working towards the implementation of these commitments by collaborating with upcoming host nations Azerbaijan and Brazil as a “troika” spanning COPs 28, 29, and 30.

    High-emitters should already be working on updated NDCs

    A crucial component of the COP28 follow-up will be the publication of updated Nationally determined Contributions (NDCs) in accordance with the updated science-based data from the Global Stocktake.  The latter was the first such exercise since the Paris Climate Agreement at COP21 and is intended to inform actions to be taken by all parties to urgently get back onto the agreed 1.5-degree pathway.  Hailing the COP28 outcome, Kerry calls for action: “Everybody has to have a plan and that is not where we are today. […] If we don’t implement this, it’s just words on a piece of paper and much more bitter disappointment for the world.”

    Almost none of the key nations involved has begun to put a credible plan in place to deliver on the COP28 pledges.  For Kerry, the onus is on 20 to 30 high-emitting countries rather than developing nations in Africa and elsewhere.  The threat of 500Gw worth of new coal-fired energy projects being activated in Asia is a major concern, continues Kerry.  He hopes that China, which accounts for around 75% of that figure, will accelerate its impressive renewables programme to help render coal redundant and ultimately cancel many of these projects.  Otherwise, the additional emissions threaten to cancel out any reductions made in the West.

    The long delay in explicitly addressing fossil fuels was acknowledged by Danish Minister for Development Cooperation and Global Climate Policy Dan Jørgensen: “I am sure that a lot of the citizens that we represent would shake their heads when told that it took 28 years to really confront the main source of climate change, but you could also turn it around and say that the reason it took so long is that it is difficult.  This is because so many countries and economies around the world are dependent on fossil fuels, so this is a huge decision.”  For Jørgensen, the key is to look ahead at a just transition involving affordable clean energy, as well as the doubling of energy efficiency measures pledged at COP28.

    The opening session including the keynote speech of Sultan Al Jaber can be viewed on the IEA YouTube channel.

    Image courtesy of IEA
    Richard Tyszkiewicz
    Richard Tyszkiewicz
    Richard has over 30 years’ experience in the international investment industry. He has worked closely with major Nordic investors on consultancy projects, focusing on the evaluation of external asset managers. While doing so, Richard built up a strong practical understanding of the challenges faced by institutional investors seeking to integrate ESG into their portfolios. Richard has an MA degree in Management and Spanish from St Andrews University, and sustainability qualifications from Cambridge University, PRI and the CFA Institute.
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