While we have made great strides in scaling-up clean energy solutions, with clean energy getting more affordable each year, emissions are still rising globally. That’s because we have not done enough to scale down the primary cause of climate change: burning fossil fuels.
Today, fossil fuels still account for close to 80% of global energy supply, a share that has hardly changed for more than 25 years. The International Energy Agency’s Fatih Birol recently forecast that fossil fuel consumption would peak before 2030 and then begin to decline. While existing and planned policies are projected to bring about the peak in fossil fuel consumption forecast by the IEA, they are not sufficient to wind down demand in line with keeping global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius. This is why we need policymakers to be bold.
With heightened geopolitical tensions, increasing energy security concerns leading to higher costs that are driving inflation, and high interest rates across much of the Western world, the climate crisis is not the only issue on the agenda for political leaders. However, tackling climate change is one on which they do not need to act alone. Businesses also have the tools and the influence to drive change.
The role of businesses has never been more important. As we enter an era of doubts and some backlash against pro-climate policies, it’s critical that business leaders step forward and send a clear signal to governments not to backtrack on their climate commitments.
This week 131 businesses from around the world, across sectors and company sizes, signed a letter to global leaders ahead of COP28 in Dubai urging them to phase out fossil fuels by the 2040s. Companies including Volvo Cars, Mahindra Group, BT, Vodafone, IKEA, eBay, Nestle, Iberdrola, JLL and Unilever called on leaders to set clear targets and timelines for phasing down and out unabated fossil fuels, and to back that up with policies enabling the rapid scaling of clean energy.