COP28 in Dubai: historic agreement on fossil fuels and the challenges of the energy transition

COP28 ends in Dubai with an unprecedented agreement, underlining the urgent need to target fossil fuels, the main contributors to global warming. After intense negotiations, President Sultan Al-Jaber sealed a historic agreement on the “Global Stocktake”, the balance sheet text of the Paris Agreement. However, the compromises required to engage all nations, and the persistent challenges of the energy transition, underline the scale of the task ahead.

 

COP28 in Dubai ended on Tuesday, December 12, with the adoption of a historic agreement to tackle fossil fuels, which are responsible for 80% of global warming. After days of tense negotiations, the president of the 28th international conference of the United Nations, Sultan Al-Jaber, sealed an agreement based on the Global Stocktake, the assessment of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

 

 

Drafting the final text was a major challenge, requiring an all-nighter and intensive consultations with various world delegations. The thorny issue of fossil fuels highlighted the differences between the advocates of a gradual phase-out and the producer countries attached to their economic model. In the end, a creative formula was adopted, calling for a “transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems”, without specifying a deadline.

 

The agreement sends a strong signal to industry and investors. Emphasizing that fossil fuels’ time is running out, it sets the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Global headlines point to a gradual move away from these energy sources. However, critics point to flaws in the agreement, including the mention of unproven technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS).

 

Renewable energies to the fore

 

The text takes a significant step forward by calling for a tripling of global renewable energy capacity and a doubling of the average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030. This recognition of the ambition required to build a new clean energy system is welcomed by experts.

 

As nations are required to reduce their reliance on coal at COP26 in Glasgow in 2021, it is imperative to eliminate unnecessary investment in fossil fuels. A strategy that also aims to involve developing and emerging nations, given that this transition must take place in a “fair, orderly and equitable” way, adjusted according to the pace specific to each economy.

 

So as not to worry producer nations such as the United States, the text advocates an “acceleration of zero or low-emission technologies, including, among others, (…) nuclear, reduction and removal technologies such as [carbon] capture and storage, and low-carbon hydrogen”. This approach leaves open the possibility of exploiting fossil fuels if they are combined with emission-reducing technologies.

 

 

This energy segment, at the heart of the debates at this COP organized by the world’s seventh largest oil producer, was much better received than Monday evening’s version, calling on States to make efforts. This time, in view of the indignant reactions of the most ambitious players, Sultan Al-Jaber and his team made sure to cite, in the introduction to the energy segment, the “need for deep, rapid and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” and called on the parties to contribute to this. He also referred extensively to the scientific recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), highlighting in particular the urgent goal of reducing emissions by 43% by 2030 compared with 2019 levels, a considerable challenge at a time when peak emissions have still not been reached.

 

Still a long way to go

 



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Featured photo : © Press

Picture of Hugues Reydellet
Hugues Reydellet
Hugues Reydellet is a young and passionate journalist whose favorite subjects are economy, culture, gastronomy, but also cars, and sports. With a sharp pen and an insatiable curiosity, Hugues is constantly on the lookout for new hot information to report.

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