2 Dec 2023

COP28: Countries call for 'energy package' to come out of climate conference

6:16 pm on 2 December 2023
The 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which takes place on 30 November until 12 December 2023 in Expo City Dubai. Dubai, United Arab Emirates on December 1st, 2023. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto) (Photo by Beata Zawrzel / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP)

Photo: Beata Zawrzel / NurPhoto via AFP

About two dozen countries that call themselves the climate high ambition coalition (HAC) are calling for an "energy package" to come out of the UN climate conference in Dubai.

Speaking at the World Leaders Summit at COP28 in Dubai, Palau's President Surangel Whipps Jr said HAC leaders recognised that the world is "off-track" to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.

However, he said the coalition of over 20 nations, including New Zealand, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa, Tuvaua and Vanuatu from the Pacific, "remain committed" to achieving the 1.5-degree target.

"The devastating impacts of the climate crisis are already being felt around the world," Whipps Jr said.

"At COP28, our response to the Global Stocktake must be a decision that protects the integrity of the Paris Agreement and sets us on a course for remaining within the 1.5C temperature limit, and towards a more just and resilient world.

"To do this, we need to agree to an energy package that sets us on track to stay within 1.5C and to peak emissions by 2025.

"This means tripling renewables, doubling energy efficiency, ensuring global clean energy access, and phasing out fossil fuels."

Whipps Jr said there was also a need for "guard rails to ensure that abatement technologies are not used to delay climate action or justify further fossil expansion".

The HAC is also calling for emissions reduction commitments to be included in the revised and new nationally determined contributions (NDC) aligned to 1.5 degrees.

"We can't afford for countries to be forced to choose between fighting poverty and fighting for our planet," he said.

"Every country should be able to deliver climate plans and policies to contribute towards a safer future. Accountability for existing commitments is vital.

"Trillions of dollars will be required. We need a new deal on climate finance that includes all relevant finance institutions aligning with the Paris Agreement."

COP28 began on Friday with a breakthrough deal on a loss and damage fund - something that has been advocated for by the climate vulnerable countries.

In response to the fund, Whipps Jr said there has been some important progress already in Dubai.

He said adapting to climate impacts was "urgent … and will save lives".

Countries need to work together to define a Global Goal on Adaptation Framework that helps ensure that all countries are able to conduct national adaptation planning and implementation, he said.

"The protection, management and restoration of the nature and ecosystems we rely on is vital.

"We are united in our commitment to 1.5C, and to a safe and secure future for us all.

"This COP must deliver," he added.

Major emitters should front up

In a media briefing on Friday, Alliance of Small Islands States' (AOSIS) Anne Rasmussen said the 1.5-degree goal was within reach.

But only if there was more ambitious NDCs from the major emitting countries because small island states only emit about one percent of global emissions, she said.

"We can be as ambitious as we can but it's calling on the major emitters to come to the fore with really stringent mitigation actions.

"It would require peaking global greenhouse gas emissions before 2025 and halving them by 2030 before reaching net-zero emissions by the second half of the century."

Rasmussen said recent research indicates this can be done and 2023 can be the year when emissions peak.

"The warming slow down is critically important but to buy time for adaptation and to avoid irreversible loss and damage."

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Climate Change Ian Fry agreed that "we have this narrow window of opportunity" to limit warming to 1.5 degrees and "it requires a lot of effort" from big polluters.

"Last month, we had the highest average temperature in record which was 2-degrees. So to bring that down to a 1.5 degrees trajectory it requires a lot of effort.

"The crucial thing is we're seeing the harm around the world…so we certainly need a lot urgent action.

However, Fry said he was more "cautious" than hopeful that COP28 will achieve a substantial outcome for the climate vulnerable after three decades of climate negotiations.

"To be honest, considering where the COP is located I'm rather cautious that we're going to have a substantial outcome", he said.

"It sounds like the COP president is pushing for just transition as sort of key outcome…meaning that we have to support countries who are reliant on the export of fossil fuels and communities that are reliant on fossil fuels.

He said "just transition" appears to be the major theme of COP28.

"I suspect that we're likely to see significant announcements on that issue rather than substantial calls for more action on climate change."

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