Dubai, Dec 2 (IANS): The COP28 presidency UAE and the International Energy Agency (IEA) have convened a landmark series of High-Level Dialogues focused on building a 1.5 degrees Celsius-aligned energy transition, with the support of IRENA and the UNFCCC Secretariat.
These dialogues have engaged a wide range of global energy sector decision makers to share their perspectives on actions and opportunities that can help fast track the energy transition and slash emissions before 2030.
The UAE and the IEA have been encouraged by the high level of ambition voiced by stakeholders along with their perspectives on the critical components to keep 1.5 degrees C within reach.
The key themes are:
First, renewable capacity must be trebled by 2030 to increasingly substitute demand for fossil fuels and enhance energy access whilst ensuring continued energy security.
For this, electrification of end-use activities, such as industry, transport, and others, must be accelerated.
Electricity grids must be expanded and modernised to connect new sources of generation.
And permitting and grid-connections must be streamlined, and liability regimes reformed to accelerate deployment of low-carbon technologies.
Second, the pace of average annual energy efficiency improvements must double by 2030 to slow energy demand.
For this, global growth in GDP has begun to decouple from global energy demand in part due to gains in energy efficiency, but average annual global improvements must increase from around two to over four per cent every year until 2030.
And governments and large energy-consumers must accelerate the deployment of existing efficiency opportunities, including through policies, investment in new solutions and technologies, and awareness campaigns.
Third, in parallel fossil fuels must phase-down significantly this decade to keep 1.5 degrees C within reach:
For this, scaling renewables must come alongside reducing CO2 and non-CO2 emissions from existing sources.
New unabated coal plants are not consistent with a 1.5 degrees C-aligned pathway, and the international community must support early retirement of existing coal plants.
Fossil fuel industry must decarbonise existing operations whilst increasing investment in renewable and low-carbon alternatives.
Cutting methane emissions from the energy sector with ambitious 2030 targets is one of the least-cost opportunities to limit global warming in the near term.
Demand signalling will play an important role in reducing fossil fuels and increasing clean hydrogen, with a key role for heavy emitting sectors as large energy consumers and emitters in today’s system.
And, carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technologies have the potential to support the energy transition, but should be focused where most needed, e.g., in heavy emitting industrial sectors, and to decarbonise existing infrastructure in developing countries that is not planned to be decommissioned in the near term.
Fourth and last, national policies, planning and investments must be coherently aligned to a 1.5-degree pathway, and implementation plans with timeframes are required to enable this.
For this, governments need to set out comprehensive energy transition plans and pathways with granular annual targets that reduce demand for fossil fuels.
Fossil-fuel subsidies should be phased out in favour of clean energy subsidies.
Carbon pricing could level the playing field for clean energy, providing incentives to encourage investments in low carbon solutions and encouraging energy efficiency.
And energy markets must incentivise sufficient investment in clean energy infrastructure, e.g., through more responsive demand mechanisms.
Both the UAE and the IEA say finance must be significantly scaled up in both developed and developing countries.
Clean energy investment needs to increase from $1.8 trillion in 2023 to around $4.5 trillion a year by the early-2030s, according to the IEA.
Today more than 80 per cent of clean energy investment is taking place in advanced economies and China; more is needed in emerging and developing economies.
Private-sector investment is critical and requires stable policies and predictable demand.
Large consumers (public and private sector) can improve the investment case for low-carbon energy supply through demand signals, including long-term contracts.
Around 760 million people lack access to electricity, and 2.3 billion people lack access to modern cooking mediums, according to the IEA.
Clean energy systems can and must be deployed to close this gap. The vast majority of countries have access to sufficient low-carbon energy sources.
The energy transition is expected to be net positive for employment, but policymakers and employers must support millions of workers to transition out of carbon-intensive jobs and into new clean energy roles.
The benefits of growth of clean energy production should be shared, supporting opportunities for women, youth, and underrepresented stakeholders, enhancing health and quality of life, enabling broader economic development, and unlocking the growth of new local supply chains.
Policies should be adopted to protect vulnerable consumers during energy transitions.
And developed and developing economies have common but differentiated responsibilities to deliver the energy transition. Developed economies should move faster and support developing economies.
Both the UAE and the IEA ask nations to bring optimism and action as they attend COP28 in Dubai, and they look forward to driving progress together to keep 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach.