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Next week, all eyes will turn to Dubai as world leaders descend on COP28 – the 28th annual United Nations (UN) climate meeting where governments are set to discuss how to tackle dangerous climate change, in particular the goal of limiting long-term global temperature rises to 1.5°C.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), this 1.5°C target is critical if we’re to avoid the very worst impacts of climate change and was agreed by 196 parties at the COP21 conference in France in 2015. Subsequently known as the ‘Paris Agreement’, it is a legally binding international treaty on climate change and encouraged countries like the UK, USA and Japan to set ambitious net zero and carbon neutrality goals.
But eight years on… where do we stand? A new report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has found that urgent action is needed, with the world currently on track for 2.5 to 2.9°C of heating this century. With temperatures soaring and episodes of extreme weather becoming more and more frequent, the UN’s secretary general, Antonio Guterres, has said that the world is heading for a “hellish” future if we don’t act now.
A commitment to fully phase out fossil fuels
In 2016, parties attending COP26 in Glasgow agreed to “accelerate the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”. A year later at COP27, 80 countries called to have this language updated so that it included not only coal, but all fossil fuels. This was ultimately unsuccessful.
We hope and expect this conversation to be continued in Dubai, especially given Rishi Sunak’s recent decision to hold annual oil and gas licencing rounds – which we think is a step in the wrong direction, but is unfortunately reflective of where the world is at as a whole. In fact, the latest Production Gap report has revealed that governments, in aggregate, still plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C. And while major producer countries have pledged to achieve net zero emissions and launched initiatives to reduce emissions, none have committed to reduce coal, oil and gas production in line with limiting warming to 1.5°C.
Put simply, there is no net zero future that includes oil and gas and, despite the government’s argument to the contrary, there is no proof that oil and gas will have a positive impact on energy security or that it will help the thousands of households dealing with fuel poverty. What we need to see from our government and other world leaders is a final and binding commitment to phase out all fossil fuels, as well as faster action to reduce emissions today.
Investment incentives for clean technologies
Ahead of the conference, the United Arab Emirates’ COP28 presidency, International Renewables Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Global Renewables Alliance has issued a joint report claiming that renewable energy capacity needs to “reach more than 11,000 GW” by 2030. This requires a massive scaling up of public and private sector investment from countries around the world, which is a huge opportunity – especially in contrast to the investment which continues to flow into finite fossil fuel reserves. Here in the UK, we need to see the government addressing the investment landscape which has not only been impacted by inflation and interest rates, but by policy uncertainty and infrastructure issues like grid connection times, amongst other things.
We know that COP28 can be a huge platform for climate action, but we need the government to recognise this and be more ambitious so that we can reassert the UK’s leadership position when it comes to clean investment. In fact, analysis by Energy UK has revealed that, without taking action to address these factors, the UK economy could lose out on £62 billion of investment between now and 2030. This would lead to a shortfall of 54 GW of potential wind and solar capacity, which represents enough generation to power every home in the UK.
Thrive enables people to participate
We’re not letting these issues distract us, however, and are busy funding and building new sustainable energy projects. And there’s still time to support us on this journey. You can help us build vital new onshore, wind and battery assets across the UK through our share offer on the Triodos Bank crowdfunding platform. We’ve already raised over £1 million and there’s just over a week to go on the Triodos platform – find out more and read the offer document here.
Investing in shares involves risk – including potential for loss of capital – as the value of shares may go down as well as up. The payment of dividends and the target return on equity are not guaranteed. Shares can be sold through a monthly share auction should there be buyers but may take time to sell.
This financial promotion was approved on 22 November 2023 by Triodos Bank UK Limited, registered in England and Wales with number 11379025. Registered Office: Deanery Road, Bristol, BS1 5AS. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 817008.