With just three weeks to go before the COP28 climate summit, the UAE Presidency has launched a Net Zero Transition Charter for businesses, in a bid to encourage more companies to align their operations with the goals of the Paris Agreement .
Companies signing the new Charter, unveiled today by the COP28 Presidency, must commit to setting a headline target to align their organization with a science-based, 1.5C-aligned net zero target, in addition to interim targets . They must also draw up a credible net-zero transition plan within a year of the conclusion of the COP28 climate summit, the report said.
Furthermore, under the Charter, signatories are required to report annually on their progress against climate goals and transition plans through “high-quality platforms” and to submit to “robust” validation processes.
COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber said it is private Industry involvement in the UN climate process was “critical” to drive real-world climate action and achieve the UAE presidency’s goals for the summit.
“For every pillar of us action agenda – accelerate the energy transition, arrange climate finance, focus on nature, life and livelihoods, and full inclusivity – companies can leverage their strengths and resources to advance our collective climate goals and provide us with the solutions required,” he said.
The COP28 presidency said it would produce a progress report by December 2024 assessing whether charter signatory companies had kept their promises.
Al Jaber also noted the role that philanthropic organizations can play in raising awareness of climate issues and their ability to “deploy risk-free capital to finance climate opportunities.”
“More importantly, them [philanthropies] can be agile and help achieve quick solutions, especially in collaboration with public and private financiers,” he said. “Less than two percent of total philanthropic donations – $810 billion in 2021 – goes to the climate and this is minuscule compared to the size of the problem we have.“
Meanwhile, it was also confirmed today that King Charles plans to attend the opening ceremony of the upcoming UN climate talks in Dubai, which are due to start on November 30.
A statement from Buckingham Palace earlier today said the monarch was attending on behalf of the British government, following an invitation to the talks by UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The king, a long-time advocate for environmental issues, did not attend the COP27 climate summit in Egypt last year. Then Prime Minister Liz Truss reportedly asked the monarch to avoid the two-week summit, despite having attended COP26 in Glasgow a year earlier. Downing Street said at the time that COP27 was not the ‘right opportunity” for the king’s presence.
However, today the palace said the king would deliver an opening speech at CPO28 on December 1 and would also “take the opportunity to meet with regional leaders” while in the UAE.
More broadly, however, global climate talks are facing a number of challenges in the run-up to the summit later this month, with major disagreements on a number of key outstanding issues between the various global actions, not least on loss financing and damage and the push to set a phase-out date for fossil fuels.
Against this background, the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) of countries drew up their wish list earlier this week for a final agreement from the climate talks.
In a statement, the coalition called for a “negotiated decision” at COP28 to commit governments to double the pace of energy efficiency improvements, triple renewable energy capacity and achieve universal energy access by 2030 .
The group of countries – which has historically been instrumental in calling for higher ambitions at UN climate summits – also backed a phase-out of fossil fuel production and use.
“Fossil fuels are at the root of this crisis,” the statement reads. “We must work together to develop a comprehensive global approach to clean energy access to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels, in line with the IPCC’s 1.5C pathway.”
Any final agreement from the summit should also include a call for an end to new coal and the expansion of existing coal mines, and an urgent phase-out of coal-fired power generation, as well as the reduction of methane emissions to near zero in the fossil fuel sector. fuel sector by 2030, according to the HAC.
The statement also notes that emissions reduction technologies that exist only on a limited scale – in other words, carbon capture, direct air capture and bioenergy and carbon capture and storage – have a “limited role to play” in decarbonizing sectors that are difficult to reduce.
These carbon capture and removal technologies “should not be used to delay climate action” in sectors where feasible, effective and cost-efficient mitigation alternatives are available, such as electricity generation, the statement said.
Ministers from Austria, Ethiopia, France, Guatemala, Ireland, Kenya, the Netherlands, Samoa, Senegal, Slovenia, Spain, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Zambia signed the letter. Britain has not signed the declaration, despite being an active member of the coalition at previous UN environment conferences.
The HAC Coalition said the response to the Global Stocktake exercise to be held at COP28 would have a “disproportionate impact on the likelihood of remaining within the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit without exceeding” .
In the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries agreed to formally assess progress against global climate goals every five years from 2023.
The inventory is intended to inform the next round of national climate targets – known in UN jargon as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – that countries must resubmit by 2025.
Elsewhere, the HAC has called for the phase-out of all international public funding for fossil fuel development and energy generation, and urged governments to require fossil fuel companies to publish trackable transition plans setting out how they will cut emissions by 2025 will push back.
The group warned that “too little” had been done to deliver on the COP26 pledge to phase out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies.
“All countries, starting with the G20, should identify their subsidies and draw up a plan to eliminate, reduce or reallocate them, especially by directing the money saved to renewable energy sources,” the statement reads .
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