15 December 2023

COP 28. The Beginning of the End of Fossil Fuels

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) has concluded this year with an important agreement that signals the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era. How? With a rapid, just and equitable transition backed by sharp emissions cuts and increased finance. 

By Jorge Pina

cambio climatico

From 30 November to 12 December, COP28, the 28th annual meeting of the 195 countries of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to discuss ways to avoid climate change and adapt to its effects.

In a year in which all temperature records have been broken, a historic low in Antarctic ice extent has been reached, and there has been a general increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, COP 28 was one of the last chances to avoid a 1.5°C temperature increase.

Ending fossil fuels, which are the cause of the climate crisis, has been the main debate at the Dubai talks. And it wasn't an easy debate. While the vast majority of countries were in favour of the final agreement including a reference to the need to abandon fossil fuels, the oil countries were only willing to make an ambiguous commitment to reduction. 

Already in injury time, an agreement has been reached on the need for a transition away from fossil fuels, accelerating action in this decade. 

It's the beginning of the end. A commitment that can be described as historic because, although we have not yet turned the page on the fossil fuel era, we can say that a turning point has been marked. 

The agreement also sets out a series of measures needed to achieve the rapid and sustained reduction in emissions required to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C: We must triple the capacity of renewable energies and double energy efficiency improvements by 2030; accelerate efforts towards phasing out coal; achieving emission-free road transport; and eliminating fossil fuel subsidies. Special mention should be made of the treatment of nuclear energy which, for the first time, has been mentioned alongside renewable energies as a technology to be promoted in order to succeed in the fight against climate change.

In adapting to the effects of climate change, countries have agreed on a set of targets that identify the way forward to become resilient to the impacts of a changing climate. These targets include the need for references to food security, the scarcity of water resources and the impact on health, which highlight the reality of the risk that climate change poses to our well-being.

A point always critical to the balance of international negotiation has been and remains funding in relation to the commitment of resources that developed countries must make available to developing countries, which have not contributed to the problem but nevertheless suffer its consequences. COP28 again highlighted the failure to meet the climate finance target, set at $100 billion per year from 2020, and continued discussions on establishing a "new collective quantified climate finance goal" to be adopted in 2024. 

In this sense, one of the successes of the summit has been to achieve the implementation of the so-called Loss and Damage Fund, which will serve to compensate the most vulnerable countries that, without being responsible for the climate crisis, are the most affected by disasters caused by global warming, such as droughts,  floods or fires.

For us, at Endesa, it has also been a summit with great significance. Andorra's Just Transition Hub project was the only Spanish project awarded in the Energy Transition Changemakers, in the "Renewable energies, integration and clean energy" category. These awards seek to recognise private sector projects that represent a change in the rules of the game towards the energy transition. It has thus been recognised that for us, "leaving no one behind" is much more than a catchphrase included in any energy transition document.

Ultimately, although all that has been agreed will have to be grounded and implemented, COP 28 has entailed very significant progress on the road to achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement, which is a road that we at Endesa have been travelling for years.

 

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