IEA says COP28 deals still not enough

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said the pledges already made by delegates at the COP28 Summit in Dubai are not enough to limit global warming.

Speaking at the debate over the final agreements from the summit in Dubai, the IEA said it was pleased to see pledges have been made in three key areas – by many countries on renewables and energy efficiency, and by a significant number of companies on methane. These are three of the five crucial areas for action highlighted by the organisation ahead of COP28.

However it added: “The IEA has now analysed what the impact would be on global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions if all the signatories of these pledges delivered on them in full. It shows that, while the pledges are positive steps forward in tackling the energy sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, they would not be nearly enough to move the world onto a path to reaching international climate targets, in particular the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C.”

As of the weekend around 130 countries had signed up to the pledge to triple global renewable power capacity by 2030 and double the annual rate of energy efficiency improvements every year to 2030. Those countries together account for 40% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion, 37% of total global energy demand and 56% of global GDP.

In addition to the potential impact of those pledges, the IEA said it has assessed what the effect would be of the full implementation of the methane pledge of the Oil and Gas Decarbonisation Charter, which is to zero-out methane emissions and eliminate routine flaring by 2030. The 50 companies that have signed up to it account for about 40% of global oil production and 35% of combined oil and gas production.

“IEA analysis shows that the full delivery on these pledges – covering renewables, efficiency and methane/flaring – by the current signatories would result in global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 being around 4 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent lower than would be expected without them.

“This reduction in 2030 emissions represents only around 30% of the emissions gap that needs to be bridged to get the world on a pathway compatible with limiting global warming to 1.5 C under the IEA’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario.

It came after the IEA’s executive director, Dr Fatih Birol, (pic) and the COP28 president Dr Sultan Al Jaber has earlier in the summit co-chaired a meeting with over 40 high-level leaders, to seek agreement on the building blocks of a 1.5 °C-aligned energy transition.

Birol set out what he described as an “ambitious and integrated” package across five pillars for COP28, “for which there was strong support in the room”:

  • Tripling global renewable power generation capacity by 2030.
  • Doubling annual energy efficiency improvements by 2030.
  • An orderly decline of fossil fuel use demand by 2030, starting with no new coal plants.
  • Commitment from the oil and gas industry to align their strategies and investment portfolios with 1.5 °C, with a focus on a 75% reduction in methane emissions by 2030.
  • Financing mechanisms for a major scaling up of clean energy investment in emerging and developing economies.

Birol explained: “I’m encouraged by the support by governments around the world during the dialogue for the IEA’s five pillars for success at COP28, including the need by 2030 for tripling renewable capacity, for doubling energy efficiency improvements, for the oil and gas industry to meaningful commitment to clean energy transitions, for a massive increase in financing for developing economies, and for an orderly decline of fossil fuel use. We now need to see this support translate into concrete commitments and action.”

Al Jaber added: “This series of dialogues has helped us to reach convergence on some of the critical elements of the energy transition. This work is crucial in building momentum to deliver the most ambitious response possible to the Global Stocktake, bridging the gaps to 2030, and helping us keep 1.5 °C – our North Star – in reach. I am encouraged by the practical actions brought forward by world leaders today at the final dialogue, and I hope that you take this open mindset and optimism throughout this COP.”

As of the weekend around 130 countries had signed up to the pledge to triple global renewable power capacity by 2030 and double the annual rate of energy efficiency improvements every year to 2030. Those countries together account for 40% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion, 37% of total global energy demand and 56% of global GDP.

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