COP28 INSIGHTS - 2023 ENDED WITH THE “F” WORD
As we took some time over the holidays to reflect on COP28, we couldn't help but notice first hand and through our members how a degree or two can be the difference between the white winters we know and love, and sad green slopes. The meetings in Dubai, like the ski season, kicked off with a sobering climate reality check. The first Emissions Gap report found we're not on track to meet the Paris Agreement targets of limiting global warming to under 1.5C. The report set out a bleak future, if we continue business as usual, global temperatures are now expected to rise by 2.4-2.6C by the end of the century.
But before going ahead and talking about what’s in the future, let’s take a step back…
Despite all the controversy and rumors going around, COP28 was precedent setting in many ways. After 30 years of failing to mention the root causes of climate change, 198 countries recognized the need to “transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade”. A first in climate negotiations history… yet there was collective disappointment over the failure to demand a "phase-out" of fossil fuels, and concern that there are dangerous loopholes in the language including carbon capture, hydrogen, petrochemicals and transition fuels, which do not align with climate science.
But what does this transition away from fossil fuels really mean?
Did you know that Canada is the fourth largest oil producing country in the world and is set to increase production? We're getting called out on the international stage for being one of the largest expanders of fossil fuels
While COP28 President thinks a fossil fuel phaseout would "take us back into caves". Canadian climate leaders think differently.
“For the first time ever, countries around the world have collectively agreed on the need to leave oil, gas and coal in the ground and massively accelerate the build out of renewable energy and energy savings – this decade. There can be no mistake: the era of fossil fuels is quickly coming to an end." - Julia Levin Environmental Defense.
"While much work remains, what is beyond doubt is that Canada cannot ignore the challenges and opportunities represented by the energy transition underway. As an oil and gas producing country, all levels of government in Canada need to prepare our economy and workforce for a global decline in demand for oil and gas." Chris Severson-Baker, Simon Dyer, Janetta McKenzie - Pembina Institute.
Calgary-based Pembina Institute says the emphasis on renewables should be a signal for Canada, and particularly Alberta, to put more effort into renewable energy. The Global Climate Action Network also awarded the Alberta Government the Fossil of the Day Award "being the best at being the worst and doing the most to do the least", but Alberta has the potential to be the cornerstone of Canada's renewable energy future!
Albertosaurus, a serrated-tooth carnivore, roamed across Alberta millions of years ago. (Dinopedia)
With 118 governments pledging to triple the world's renewable energy capacity by 2030, the transition is happening and at POW Canada we believe we need to get out in front and ride the fossil-free wave to the future! But this is going to take some strong arms. While the agreements and pledges signed are non-binding, these documents can still serve as important reference points to hold our governments and businesses accountable to climate action!
2023 was the hottest year ever recorded, and we’ve seen the repercussions of that all the way into the new year. It’s no secret that warming temperatures due to high emissions are leading to more dramatic weather events and affecting the ski season (amongst other things…)There is momentum now and 2024 could be a turning point, let’s get to work!
A Few Positive Notes
Other positive news from COP28 - Canada also announced a draft of the world’s first oil and gas sector emissions cap, supported the Global Methane Pledge, and announced a commitment to introduce a federal nature accountability bill in 2024 to bring together the Global Biodiversity Framework and Climate Action.
Canada also supported all 8 COP28 Presidency led declarations including:
- Coalition for High Ambition Multilevel Partnerships for Climate action
- Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture
- Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action
- Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge;
- Declaration on CLimate Relief, Recovery and Peace;
- Declaration on Climate and Health;
- Gender-Responsive Just Transitions and Climate Action Partnership;
- Global Cooling Pledge for COP28;
- Declaration of Intent on Mutual Recognition of Certification Schemes for Renewables and Low-carbon Hydrogen Derivatives.