Financiers urged to invest in renewables to enable fossil fuel exit

UN envoy Mahmoud Mohieldin sets out Cop28 finance ambitions to London Stock Exchange Group

Mahmoud Mohieldin was appointed a UN climate champion before Egypt hosted Cop27 last year in Sharm El Sheikh. AFP
Powered by automated translation

The world must invest in clean energy before an equitable shift away from fossil fuels is possible, an Egyptian diplomat leading the search for climate funding before Cop28 has said.

Mahmoud Mohieldin, a UN climate champion, said the world was in a "race against time" to get on track for its climate targets as leaders prepare to assemble in the UAE from November 30.

Speaking at an event hosted by the London Stock Exchange Group, he said "some serious work is required" to cut emissions by the amount needed.

"If we are serious we should stop, now, the use of coal as a resource of energy and we need to cut significantly the use of oil and natural gas," said Mr Mohieldin, who took up his role when Egypt was preparing to host Cop27 in Sharm El Sheikh last year.

"But before we’re doing that as well, we need to invest in renewables. This is the proper sequence.

"We need to invest in renewables – solar, wind and green hydrogen is a very big source now with great potential. We need to cut the emissions. And we definitely need to deal with the impact, the socioeconomic impact on society, especially for those who have been dependent for years on fossil fuels."

At the Dubai summit, the world will complete its first progress check (called the Global Stocktake) on how it is faring in curbing global warming. A report prepared for Cop28 says the plant is off track for the landmark goal of limiting temperature rises to 1.5°C.

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28's President-designate and UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, has made speeding up the energy transition one of the four pillars of his plan for the summit, also focusing on finance, inclusivity and livelihoods.

Mr Mohieldin, a former World Bank official who has continued in his role since Cop27 and has pushed for new investment in climate action, said "without finance, none of the above will happen".

Expanding access to electricity and meeting sustainable development goals is "all about finance", he said. "Some serious work is required because [of] the trouble that we’re in today as per the Global Stocktake.

"We are really in a kind of a struggle and a race against time to cut the emissions by 50 per cent from now until 2030. Unfortunately we are off track."

Experts estimate that winning the race against climate change will cost trillions of dollars annually. Despite this, a 2009 promise by rich countries to arrange a mere $100 billion a year for the developing world has still not been delivered. Ministers have expressed optimism it could finally be paid this year.

Nonetheless, the $100 billion "is very important", said Mr Mohieldin, although "not because it’s a panacea or [is] going to be solving all of our problems. But it’s a token of trust and could be used for leveraging private-sector finance or supporting important funds."

Updated: November 08, 2023, 4:18 PM