Three climate battles will dominate COP28
Tit is the United Arab Emiratesplace for cop28, the most recent climate summit called by the United Nations, is a controversial choice. About 70,000 climate advocates, diplomats and other activists will attend an event that begins on November 30 in Dubai, one of the glittering cities built on the wealth that fossil fuels brought to the region. The fact is that the world’s most important climate summit will be hosted by a major oil producer has sparked outrage among environmentalists. That the president of the summit, Sultan Al Jaber, is running adnocthe uaenational oil company (night), is proof, conspirators, that the internal situation is on behalf of Big Oil.
But from Abu Dhabi on the Persian Gulf, the shipping route to global markets for the world’s largest concentration of oil reserves, to Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman, an entrepot full of tankers carrying Russian oil evades control- Western bonds, comes a sense of vulnerability to climate change. The area is short of water and home food. The rising summer heat is becoming inhumane. The cities built on that desert sand are at risk from rising sea levels. That the uae sharing the risk of increasing global temperatures makes the collection less scarce.
Trust is so low among many agents that negotiations may break down. That would be scary. A one a report analyzing the national climate action plans of the 198 parties at the Board cop they unfortunately found inadequate to deal with emissions (see table 1) and thus achieve the goal of limiting the increase in global temperature demanded in the Paris agreement of cop21 in 2015. In short, the stakes are high. Among the many technical and procedural objectives of the summit, three major themes are crying out for action.
The first is the task of reducing methane emissions, a greenhouse gas that is being watched (gg). The second is the need to fill large deficits in climate finance. And the third is an ideological battle over how and how quickly to end the use of fossil fuels. The outlook for meaningful progress can be summed up as the good, the bad and the ugly, respectively.
The good news is about methane, a gg that is much shorter in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide but causes at least a quarter of the warming of the atmosphere. Fred Krupp, boss edfenvironmental group, insisting that tackling methane is “the single most immediate opportunity available to reduce the rate of global warming”.
Since methane is the main component of natural gas, addressing emissions from the energy industry would have significant implications (see table 2). And the payback is often quick because methane that hasn’t been poisoned or flared when gas is extracted can’t be sold, says Bjorn Sverdup of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (ugh), a consortium of a dozen major oil and gas companies. Its members have reduced their methane emissions by around half since 2017, from a leakage rate of 0.3% of total marketed gas to 0.15% in 2022, using technologies that track leaks and ‘ activity development. They have promised to keep that rate under 0.2%.
Rumors suggest that many nightThey are opposed but Mr. Sverdup reports that “momentum is building for action at cop” even among these companies. As part of a deal struck this week with America, China (the world’s biggest emitter of methane) says it will, for the first time, bring the gas into the their national climate plan. The them it has also just agreed strict limits on methane emissions from fossil fuels, including imports. A credible side deal involving many large oil companies “would mean more than a diplomatic statement with ambitious wording” from official proceedings, Mr. Krupp believes. Mr Al Jaber has been pushing hard for large private oil and gas companies to commit to cutting methane emissions.
The prospects for climate finance are better. Emerging economies complain about the failure of the rich world to keep its promises. The $100bn that was to be provided by 2020 by rich countries is yet to come in full. At cop27 in Egypt last year a “loss and damage” fund was approved in principle, to compensate vulnerable countries (which often contribute the least emissions). After a grueling process, negotiators recently agreed to give the World Bank a temporary role in hosting this new facility but did not agree to finance it. The them they can announce some funding for it at cop28.
Armond Cohen, leader catf, an environmental group, calls $100bn the “tip of the iceberg” compared to the trillions of dollars needed annually by 2030 and beyond to transform energy systems, mostly some in energy-hungry economies in the developing world (see table 3). Carlos Pascal S&P Global, a financial data company, insists that “those trillions of dollars will not come from the public sector, so we have to leverage the private sector.” Rumors suggest that the uae wants to play a catalytic role by launching a $25bn global climate finance fund seeded by its own oil wealth.
The third area of battle is the ugliest. Much blood will be spilled over the question of whether fossil fuels should be “phased out” or “phased out” and whether “mitigation” technologies should be used (which capture and storage capacity gg emissions from energy use) allow continued use of fossil fuels.
Agreement is difficult to reach because the legitimate climate goal of a rapid end to fossil fuel burning runs into the equally legitimate reality of fossil dependency (see table 4). As Mr. Cohen observes, “You can remove fossil fuels, but they still make up 80% of the world’s energy supply and growing.” A new scheme from the yesglobal outlook, for achieving net zero emissions sees a lot of fossil fuel use even in 2050 (albeit at much lower levels than today), making a mockery of talk of being finding out quickly.
At least the direction of travel is clear if not the speed, with fossil fuels likely to peak and decline in the coming decades as efficiency, renewables and other clean fuels take off . But when it comes to emissions reduction technologies such as carbon capture and sequestration (ccs).
If negotiators can agree to allow the use of a well-monitored rebate, it would allow a regulated end to fossil fuel use that would save consumers painful supply shocks. The ipccthe onethe official climate science body, making it clear that technologies for “negative” emissions may well be needed on a large scale in the second half of the century, which means that nascent mitigation technologies need to move forward very much now.
The uae wants to play a key role in climate innovation, too. It has been investing heavily in decarbonisation. A big ccs project can be removed ggs equivalent to the annual emissions of half a million petrol-powered cars revealed in September. adnoc he recently introduced his net-zero gg target for its operations five years to 2045. It stopped venting and flaring methane well before its peers. The company is spending nearly $4bn on undersea cables to send carbon-free electricity to offshore rigs instead of burning natural gas.
Large solar farms run by Masdar produce the cheapest renewable energy in the world. This Emirati clean energy giant, which has adnoc who is interested, is the world’s second largest developer of clean energy. They have committed to installing 100 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity worldwide by 2030, up from 15 gigawatts in 2021. How did this green behemoth emerge in a land full of oil wealth? It was started back in 2006, before the solar revolution started and climate technology became fashionable – by Mr Al Jaber. ■
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