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Reflections on COP28

When the RBA Environmental Team arrived in Dubai to attend COP28 – the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which took place from November 30 through December 12 – the global climate community mood appeared bleak. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) had just released the first “global stocktake” assessing global progress in implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement and concluded that the world is not on track to limiting temperature rise to 1.5 °C. The UNFCCC projected that current national climate action plans will lower greenhouse gas emissions collectively to only 2 percent below 2019 levels by 2030 – far below the 43 percent reduction that UNFCCC states is needed to limit global warming to 1.5 °C.

Despite this news, many positive announcements were reported at COP28. Highlights included announcement of a new $30 billion fund for climate solutions that aims to attract $250 billion in private capital by the end of the decade, agreement by 50 oil companies to commit to zero-out methane emissions and eliminate routine flaring by 2030, and a pledge by 130 countries to triple renewable energy capacity and double energy efficiency improvements by 2030. Low carbon and abatement solutions were also on full display, including low-carbon steel and recycled metals sourced from construction and e-waste, as well as procurement initiatives to promote renewable energy and zero-carbon shipping.

On December 10, the International Energy Agency provided an assessment of all COP28 pledges and concluded that they would not be enough to limit global warming to 1.5 °C by 2030, citing a 30 percent emissions gap that needs to be bridged. Furthermore, language to phase out the use of fossil fuels was dropped from the negotiating text during the last scheduled days of negotiations, sending COP28 into overtime in an effort to salvage language that would limit future fossil fuel use. On December 13, an agreement was reached to “transition away” from fossil fuels. While the language does not mention a “phase out” or set firm deadlines, this is the first time that COP nations have agreed on explicit fossil fuel reductions.

If the Paris Agreement 1.5 °C goal is to be reached, all stakeholders must be engaged. COP28 was the largest COP ever with more than 70,000 attendees. While the influence of oil was felt at COP28, the hard-fought agreement to transition away from fossil fuels supports the value of inclusivity as all potentially impacted stakeholders were engaged.

As a recognized NGO Observer, the RBA was permitted in the COP Blue Zone where the team shared members’ experiences with key stakeholders and governments, speaking publicly on the need for greater supply chain collaboration, and highlighting the RBA Emissions Management Tool to support standard and efficient greenhouse gas calculation and reporting for RBA members and their suppliers. Now more than ever, the RBA and engagement with members and their suppliers will be needed to create action that helps achieve the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 °C target.

Learn more about the RBA’s environmental efforts and how your company can benefit from its programs and tools at ResponsibleEnvironment.org.

RBA at COP28

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