Dubai, Dec 9 (IANS): Amidst all the geopolitical noise around orderly phase out of all fossil fuels in line with science at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), the next few days will further shape world’s plans to get on while enabling a fast and fair transition to renewable energy to ensure the global temperature rise is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius as per Paris temperature goal.
"The 1.5-degree limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels. Not reduce. Not abate. Phaseout," UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said as the COP28 is underway.
Canada has been asked by the UAE COP presidency to help develop language on the role of fossil fuels that is acceptable to all parties. On fossil fuels, there are four options on table with just four days to go until COP28 is due to close.
They include a phase out of fossil fuels in line with best available science; a phase out of unabated fossil fuels, consumption peak by 2030, energy sector to be 'predominantly' free of fossil fuels well ahead of 2050; and phasing out unabated fossil fuels so as to achieve net-zero CO2 in energy systems around 2050.
"The four options in the draft of the Global Stocktake are longer but weaker. notably not stating what that science is," a negotiator told IANS.
Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International, said on Friday the new global stocktake (GST) text retains the fossil fuel phase-out option but does not incorporate the proposal by developing countries to add the terms "just and equitable" and "developed countries taking the lead".
"Without equity, it is neither fair nor feasible to accelerate the green transition away from fossil fuels in developing countries," he added.
Power Shift Africa director Mohamed Adow reckons "it shows promise", while Simon Evans at Carbon Brief notes the "need for urgent action to keep 1.5C in play" is gone.
As per findings from United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP's) Emissions Gap Report 2023, the world is heading for a temperature rise of about 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century unless countries now deliver more than they have already promised to tackle climate change.
Negotiators say a full package covering mitigation, adaptation and finance will be needed to complete these negotiations if the talks are to end on December 12 at 11 am, as intended.
Kaisa Kosonen, Head of the Greenpeace COP28 delegation, said: "We are here to make fossil fuels history. By now governments know they can't leave this summit without an agreement to end fossil fuels, in a fast and fair manner. Now the question is what is the package of solutions, support and cooperation that will get us over the finishing line. It's clear that developed countries are the ones that need to take the lead here.
"The solutions are ready -- a fast and fair transition to renewable energy is possible -- but it won't happen fast enough unless we push the fossil fuel industry out of the way. And when it comes to money, just look at who made record profits last year -- it’s the fossil fuel industry! There's enough money in the world to deal with this crisis, but it has to be redirected from problems to solutions, so that polluters are made to pay."
Responding to a leaked letter from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) asking its members to reject any possible agreement at COP28 that mentions the phase out of fossil fuels, Cansin Leylim, 350.org Associate Director of Global Campaigns, said: "OPEC’s desperate resistance to a fossil fuel phase out reveals their fear of a changing tide, evident in COP28 discussions.
"As 106 nations rally for a rapid fossil fuel decline, the draft text of the Global Stocktake offers hope with several options for a phase out of fossil fuels. OPEC needs to get with the program or move out of the way of our just transition to a 100 per cent renewable energy powered future. COP28 was supposed to be the most inclusive of climate talks, yet fossil fuel lobbyists have found shelter, and are trying to block progress. The spotlight is now on the COP28's Presidency and if they will broker a deal for a just transition or instead align themselves with the oil industry."
In the context of India, a Global Energy Monitor report in July says it has 35.9 GW of new coal proposals in various pre-construction phases and about 31.6 GW in the construction phase. Outside of China, India has the largest coal power project pipeline.
However, over the years, the yearly capacity being commissioned has consistently declined.
In 2022, India commissioned close to 2 GW of coal power plants. This is significantly below the average 12 GW of new coal plant additions in the last 10 years (2012 - 2022).
A positive picture from India comes in an analysis authored by Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA) and Climate Trends that says the country for the second year in a row no coal power plant has received project finance lending in 2022.
Lenders preferred financing renewable energy projects over coal. The report finds that all energy projects that reached financial closure for project finance lending in 2022 were renewable energy projects. On the flip side, it also showed a 45 per cent reduction in project finance to renewable energy.
The 2023 Coal vs Renewables Investment Report assessed 68 project finance loans across 11 coal and renewable energy projects in India that reached financial closure between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2022.
While renewable energy projects are defined as hydroelectric, geothermal, wave, wind, or solar power projects, this report looks at wind and solar project finance loans only.
"There has been curiosity around India not signing the global pledge to triple renewable energy and double energy efficiency at the COP28 despite it championing the idea during its G20 presidency. Since the pledge on renewables was framed in recognition of reducing investments in coal, most likely India did so to ensure it defends its use of coal for energy security in the foreseeable future," Aarti Khosla, Director, Climate Trends, told IANS.