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Two wins from a fossil fuel-heavy COP

Picture: A panel discussion at COP 28. Supplied.
Picture: A panel discussion at COP 28. Supplied.

Considering that this year’s climate conference is being run by the head of a national oil company, and thousands of fossil fuel lobbyists are in attendance, expectations for real progress at COP28 were low. Nevertheless, some key wins have been notched.

First130 countries signed a pledge to triple the world’s installed renewable energy capacity to at least 11,000 GW by 2030, and to double the rate of energy efficiency improvements to 4% a year until the end of the decade.

“The widespread support for this declaration demonstrates that renewable energy has moved from the sidelines to centre stage,” Jennifer Layke, global energy director at the World Resources Institute, said in a statement.

“Tripling annual renewable energy capacity over the next six years would be the single largest step the world can take toward achieving our global climate goals.”

But Layke said rich countries must fork out more funding for renewable energy projects in developing markets. Even though solar and wind are the cheapest sources of new generating capacity, they nevertheless require upfront investments. And the surge in interest rates has put these projects further out of reach for many states.

Second, wealthy nations made progress on operationalising a loss and damage fund, which is meant to assist developing countries hit by climate disasters.

The UAE — host of COP28 — pledged $100 million towards the fund, which has more than $650 million in total commitments so far.

That’s a drop in the ocean of what’s required as the impacts of climate change become more acute, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Yes, but: In years gone by, pledges have failed to translate into real action.

According to Climate Action Tracker, projections for global warming over the next few decades haven’t changed over the past two years, in spite of intergovernmental commitments to do more.

Based on current policies, the world is set to warm by a catastrophic 2.7˚C above the pre-industrial revolution era. That’s unchanged from projections at the time of the Glasgow climate conference in 2021.

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