UN report card on world’s progress to limit warming to 1.5 deg C will be bleak: politicians

ABU DHABI – The much awaited United Nations report card on how the world has fared in limiting global warming to 1.5 deg C is expected to show bleak results, politicians and climate change envoys said on Saturday.

The first global stocktake of climate actions is a key component of the year-end COP28 United Nations climate talks at the United Arab Emirates, and will show how much progress nations have made in cutting emissions, and what more must be done to avoid further catastrophic impacts of climate change.

“We don’t need to wait until the global stocktake to know just how much work there is ahead of us,” said Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, designated president of the COP28 climate conference, at the annual assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

At the event’s ministerial plenary on accelerating renewable energy sources, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry added: “Theoretically, yes we can (meet the 1.5 deg C target), but there is nothing in current activities in countries around the world, mine included, that indicates that we are prepared to do what we need to do to keep at 1.5 deg C.”

The transition to renewable energy sources and the phasing out of coal is key to driving down emissions. But while the shift has started, it must be ratcheted up with funding for developing nations, said key speakers at the assembly.

Dr Al Jaber, who also heads the UAE’s state-owned oil company and is the Emirates’ climate envoy, noted that in 2022, renewables accounted for 81 per cent of all new energy capacity installed.

But to meet climate targets, renewable energy generation must triple every year from now till 2030, said Irena director-general Francesco La Camera.

Mr Kerry said more private sector money should be channeled to less developed countries that have the lowest carbon footprints but need more resources to embark on their energy transition.

“No government in the world has enough money to do what we need to do. We’re talking about trillions. Who has the trillions? The private sector,” he said.

“We need to be exciting that private sector money to begin the move to bankable deals, to bring clean development to parts of the world left out… Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa deserve to be able to develop.”

Meanwhile, Tonga – a chain of small islands in the Pacific and among the most vulnerable in the climate crisis – has long been frustrated with the lack of access to financing from global facilities, said its prime minister Siaosi Sovaleni, who also spoke at the Irena forum.

Instead, it is now working with the private sector and its neighbours in the South Pacific to realise its 2025 ambition of generating 70 per cent of its electricity through renewables.

Mr Sovaleni added: “We are small island developing states, but we are also big ocean states. We need to invest more on ocean technology. It will be hard for us to keep placing solar panels on land.”

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