EU, US and UAE rally support for global deal to triple renewable energy

Ambitious goal needs unanimous approval ahead of Cop28

President Sheikh Mohamed, right, and Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President-designate and UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, left, in talks at a pre-Cop28 meeting at Qasr Al Hosn, Abu Dhabi. Photo: Abdulla Al Neyadi / Presidential Court
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The US, the EU and Cop28 hosts the UAE are rallying other governments to join a global deal to triple renewable energy this decade at the coming climate summit.

The countries are working to recruit others to sign the pledge before this year's annual UN climate negotiations, which take place from November 30 to December 12 in Dubai, with a likely launch event at a gathering of world leaders at the start of the summit, a US State Department representative told Reuters.

A joint draft letter being sent to governments says tripling the world's renewable energy capacity – to 11,000 gigawatts by 2030 – is the most important act to limit global warming to 1.5°C and avoid its most disastrous impacts.

"We have the solutions at hand and we have already made huge strides in expanding the global renewable energy capacity and becoming more energy efficient," said the letter seen by Reuters.

It has been signed by the UAE Presidency of the Cop28 summit, the European Commission, the US, Barbados, Kenya, Chile, Micronesia, the International Energy Agency and the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).

A draft of the pledge would also commit to doubling the world's annual rate of improving energy efficiency to 4 per cent a year until 2030.

The letter said the green goals should be a "global" effort. But to become part of the formal outcome of the Cop28 talks, they must clear the tough political hurdle of winning unanimous approval from the nearly 200 nations represented in UN climate negotiations.

While most major economies are already on board with the renewables goal, after the Group of 20 – which includes China and India – backed it last month, some are hesitant to tether that target to a promise to shift away from CO2-emitting fossil fuels.

The draft says the widespread use of renewables must be accompanied during this decade by "the phase down of unabated coal power," including ending the financing of new coal-fired power plants.

The draft pledge would commit governments to adopt more ambitious policies to scale up renewable energy and develop financing schemes to reduce the high cost of capital that has stymied renewable energy projects in developing nations.

Despite having plentiful solar energy resources, Africa has received only 2 per cent of global investment in renewable energy over the past two decades, Irena says.

A European Commission representative said the targets were part of EU priorities for Cop28 and it was seeking "the widest possible support".

The US State Department representative said it was encouraging other countries to back the targets, "while also recognising that more steps beyond these – like stopping new unabated coal in the power sector – are needed".

Saudi Arabia, Russia and other fossil fuel-reliant economies have opposed the idea of phasing out.

Scientists say both actions – rapidly expanding clean energy and quickly reducing the burning of CO2-emitting fossil fuels – are vital if the world is to avert more severe climate change.

Updated: November 02, 2023, 8:50 AM