Comments indicate a focus on abatement technologies at Dubai summit over fossil phase-out
The head of the most important annual climate conference has called for a “laser focus” on phasing out fossil fuel emissions while phasing up viable and affordable zero-carbon alternatives.
The 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be held in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates this year.
COP28 president-designate Sultan Al Jaber stressed the importance of making carbon capture commercially viable at the 14th Petersberg Climate Dialogue, an annual meeting of climate ministers hosted by the UAE and Germany in Berlin May 2-3, 2023.
However, Al Jaber’s comments on carbon capture technology indicate a focus on abatement technologies rather than a phase-out of fossil fuels themselves. The COP28 president-delegate heads the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and is the minister for industry and advanced technology in the UAE government.
There has been a consistent emphasis on carbon capture technologies for emission reductions by oil-producing nations and an aggravated push for investments in the sector is expected at COP28.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) synthesis report under the sixth assessment report released this year highlighted the extravagant costs of deploying the technology with the least potential contribution to net emission reductions among other mitigation options.
Al Jaber called on countries to deliver the $100 billion pledge, remarking that “expectations are high, trust is low.” In the same meeting, German representatives stated that rich countries were nearing the targeted mobilisation of $100 billion in climate finance — a pledge made 14 years ago.
The failure to meet the target was seen as a major let-down by rich countries and this has bred low trust in climate negotiations.
The $100 billion climate finance is a pre-Paris era figure. Meeting the financial needs for ambitious nationally determined contributions (NDC) of developing countries requires over $5.8-5.9 trillion dollars by 2030, as highlighted by the UNFCCC standing committee on finance.
Al Jaber also pushed for renewable scale-up, an agenda dearer to the European countries keen on cutting energy imports. He called for tripling renewable capacity by 2030 and then doubling it again by 2040.
That is, over 10 terawatt by 2030 and 20 TW by 2040, led mostly solar and wind capacity additions that constitute about 60 per cent of the renewable energy mix today.
The COP28 head also announced the Dubai summit will be the first to “dedicate a day to health” and host a separate ministerial meeting on health and climate.
He also drew attention to culmination of the first Global Stocktake at COP28 — a process that assesses progress on the promises made in the Paris Agreement, adding the world was already off-track to meet the 43 per cent emission reduction target by 2030.
The irony of petro-states and fossil fuel industries exerting influence on the COP has been acknowledged by many stakeholders. It is widely believed that such influence would alter the priorities and dynamics of climate negotiations.
It remains to be seen how the oil baron’s presidency will manage to push polluters for deep emission cuts while balancing its own interests, which is unquestionably in conflict with the required actions.
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