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Head and shoulders photo of Damilola Ogunbiyi Photo: Sustainable Energy for All
Damilola Ogunbiyi HonFEI, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy

Photo: Sustainable Energy for All

COP28 could be the moment when the world goes beyond commitments and starts taking meaningful action for a clean energy transition; although, equally, it may not be. Damilola Ogunbiyi HonFEI, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy, previews the event.

This year’s UN climate talks – popularly known as COP28 – come at a decisive moment for international climate action. Greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise and we continue witnessing the adverse effects of climate change globally.

 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) sixth assessment report, provides detailed and thorough evidence that we are way off track when it comes to limiting the global rise in temperatures.

 

So, what am I looking forward to when it comes to these climate talks?

 

Three potential positives
The conclusion of the first-ever Global Stocktake process will be important to watch. Leading up to COP28, the world has been measuring progress on the Paris Agreement – the landmark climate treaty that was passed in 2015. Now is the time to act on the Stocktake findings and chart a course of action to dramatically reduce emissions and protect lives and livelihoods.

 

The Global Stocktake will see discussions being undertaken on important climate change aspects including adaptation, mitigation and equitable implementation of the Paris Agreement, looking at such aspects as a just transition. COP28 can be a watershed moment when we finally agree on a systems transformation that can accelerate achieving net zero emissions.

 

Second is the promise of a truly inclusive COP. In 2009, developed countries pledged to mobilise $100bn annually from 2020 and onwards from a range of public and private sources. However, the funds allocated and disbursed have never come close to this pledge. With developing countries needing financial resources, as well as technology transfer and capacity-building, I am impressed by the initiatives and climate leadership that have been demonstrated by leaders in emerging and developing economies since this pledge was made.

 

For example, a few months ago the Africa Climate Summit, which culminated in the Nairobi Declaration, took place, and mid this year we also saw the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact, which provided fresh impetus to the reforms of the global financial architecture that was first comprehensively articulated in the Bridgetown Initiative spearheaded by Barbados PM Mia Mottley.

 

This COP28 has the potential to be a turning point as it provides an almost level playing field, where developing countries are approaching the talks as equal partners who are not expecting handouts but are willing and are demonstrating leadership in the fight against climate change.

 

Another aspect that I am excited about is the elevation of sustainable cooling and energy efficiency. At COP28, we anticipate numerous pledges that will fast-track sustainable cooling solutions, which will go a long way to alleviate the challenges faced by those facing heat stress in a rapidly warming world. Furthermore, there have been concerted actions targeting optimised and efficient energy use – not least from G7 and G20 – that are showing greater commitment. At COP28, I expect that there will be concerted action to double the rate of energy efficiency improvements across all sectors by 2030.

 

This COP28 has the potential to be a turning point as it provides an almost level playing field, where developing countries are approaching the talks as equal partners who are not expecting handouts.

 

There are, however, a number of things that I am apprehensive about.

 

Potential negatives
Contrary to pledges to cut fossil fuel production, government policies worldwide continue to show that the production will likely double between now and 2030. This comes despite 151 national governments having committed to achieving net zero emissions.

 

Phasing out fossil fuels will be at the heart of the discussions at COP28, alongside commitments to triple renewable deployment. However, as we have seen in other COPs, reaching an agreement is not an easy task; COP26 made reference to phasing down coal in its decision for the first time, and unsuccessful efforts were made at COP27 to expand that to fossil fuels as a whole.

 

Another issue I am concerned about is that the world needs to develop innovative and holistic solutions that move private capital at scale towards climate action, especially in developing countries. However, it has been a Herculean task deploying private capital to perceived ‘high-risk’ countries, which, in many instances, are those that require the most investment. Urgent reform is needed on the risk categorisation of developing countries, but I am afraid that this discussion will not gain enough traction at COP28.

 

Despite the issues that I am apprehensive about, I also have hope that COP28 will be a truly action-focused convening of minds that will see the world coming together to make decisive actions that will finally make headway against one of the most important fights that humanity has ever faced in climate change.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author only and are not necessarily given or endorsed by or on behalf of the Energy Institute.