Gold Coast (Australia). Many consider the annual UN climate talks to be nothing more than a ritual, only to talk about its gradual change. Climate change activist Greta Thunberg describes it as a “fudge” – where negotiations are largely incomplete and often focused on fossil fuel producers, who want the world to continue buying their main export.
Look carefully. The world is slowly but surely moving away from fossil fuels. When historians look back, they will find the Paris Agreement of 2015 as a major pivot point. It achieved global consensus on climate action and set targets for nations to decarbonize by the middle of the century. In recent years, the enormous task of moving away from fossil fuels to clean energy has been fueled by the need to phase out Russian gas as well as the cost of clean energy. Focusing on the success of the global dialogue is no longer the main issue. To see real progress, look to countries like China, Germany and the US, which are moving quickly to invest in clean energy technologies – not just for the sake of the world, but because it is in their own interests to move first .
Why is the Paris Agreement so important
After decades of agonizing negotiations and bitter disappointment at the UN COP climate talks, the 2015 Paris Agreement was a major diplomatic success. This rare consensus accord has enormous validity. That’s what makes it powerful. It sets standards for all countries to follow. So what did it do? It introduced a new global benchmark: achieving net-zero. The countries agreed to “hold global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and step up efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius”. To get there, the world must achieve net zero emissions by the middle of the century. All countries need to set national targets to cut emissions and strengthen them every five years. Since 2015, more than 100 countries have pledged to achieve net zero. represent more than 90 percent of the U.S.. Commitments made in and after Paris are driving rapid change. Over the five years to 2020, global clean energy investment grew by 2 percent. Since 2020, the pace of growth has significantly accelerated to 12 percent per year. The International Energy Agency (IEA) now expects global fossil fuel use to peak this decade, after which the world economy will begin to irreversibly switch to clean energy. Currently, It seems that the transition is not happening fast enough. But it Happening. And there is no going back from this. Here are six exciting trends to watch in 2023.
1. G7 economies to form ‘climate club’ In December, the G7 group of the world’s richest democracies agreed to form a “climate club”. Conceived by Nobel Prize-winning economist William Nordhaus, the club is an arrangement where countries develop common standards for climate ambition and share the benefits among club members. The club will first focus on decarbonisation of industries such as steelmaking.
2. New carbon taxes will be introduced in the EU To avoid the problem of European companies becoming less competitive with companies from countries without a carbon price, EU nations agreed in December to introduce a carbon tax. This means that imports from countries without an adequate carbon price would be taxed. It also means that European companies cannot move production offshore to avoid the carbon price. This is just the beginning, other rich countries like Canada also want to move in this direction. Over time, these taxes will have a cascading effect, forcing export-dependent countries in these markets to move faster toward decarbonization.
3. The Ukraine War boosted renewable energy, as nations focused on energy security. When Russia invaded Ukraine, Western countries imposed sanctions on Moscow and cut off imports of Russian gas. Fossil fuel prices skyrocketed. Bad news isn’t it? Don’t be so quick to think so. The IEA says that the war has actually increased clean energy investment by making clean energy a security issue. In response to Putin’s attack, major European economies increased renewable energy targets as they seek to end dependence on Russian gas. With renewables accelerating, the EU now intends to set a firmer 2030 emissions target ahead of the COP28 climate summit later this year.
4. US and China competing to lead the clean energy transition Climate action doesn’t have to rely on cooperation. Competition is also an excellent driver. Last year, the US passed legislation investing more than $530 billion in clean energy. The biggest climate spending in US history was also aimed at competing with China, which dominates global production of solar panels, batteries, wind turbines and electric vehicles.
5. Rich countries are paying developing economies to give up coal In 2021, a group of rich countries offered South Africa 12 billion Australian dollars to move away from its reliance on coal energy. At last year’s Bali G20 summit, rich countries offered Indonesia about 30 billion Australian dollars to stop using coal, while a similar offer was made to Vietnam in December. This year all eyes will be on India, hopefully a similar package will be offered.
6. Alliance of Wills In September, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will host a hustling climate ambition summit ahead of formal COP negotiations in November. Because he wants major economies to bring in new commitments to cut emissions as early as this decade. He declared that there would be no place for those who backtrack on their promises, blame each other and present the same announcements afresh. This is not a stand-alone effort. Along with formal UN negotiations, we are seeing an increase in the number of groups called coalitions of the interested. These range from the Powering Past Coal Alliance diplomatic alliance to more ambitious proposals such as the Global Methane Pledge to the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, which was put forward by Vanuatu and Tuvalu last year. So while the UN climate talks are a cornerstone of global cooperation, we are also looking at a range of additional measures. These efforts will help accelerate climate action.
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