With 1.5°C as the limit, COP27 outcome must signal the end of fossil fuelsMaría Mendiluce, CEO, We Mean Business Coalition
With negotiators wrangling over the final wording of what is agreed at COP27 the world continues to grapple with multiple crises – in particular the costs of energy.
Accelerating a transition to clean energy is the best solution to the energy crisis and the only way we will get on track for limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C.
While the G20 Summit held the line on 1.5°C, there’s not enough determination about the future of energy. Whatever is agreed at COP27 must change this.
There is a spark of hope. India has called for a phase down of all fossil fuels, and a growing number of countries are signalling support for this. This would build further from COP26 in Glasgow when countries agreed to ‘phase down unabated coal.’ It would also put India in a good position to lead progress on this through its G20 Presidency next year, building on the commitments that many Indian companies are already making to clean energy and hydrogen.
The science is clear that limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C means no new fossil fuel infrastructure and a phase out of fossil fuels. From an economic perspective, fossil fuels represent future indebtedness and stranded assets. They are a poor investment. Therefore, it is disappointing that drafts of the COP27 cover text include reference only to coal, as already agreed in Glasgow.
Governments need to decide where they stand. Those that support the phase down of all fossil fuels must speak out in these final hours to ensure the COP27 outcomes reflect this. Every fraction of a degree of global heating matters and at the current 1.2°C of warming we’re already seeing the devastating consequences of our collective failure to cut greenhouse gas emissions quickly enough. Failure to consign the fossil fuel era to history threatens the survival of hundreds of millions of people, communities, livelihoods and species. It is as simple as that.
Businesses have made clear they view 1.5°C as a limit not a target. But to succeed on their emission reduction plans they need the policies and investments only national governments can deliver.
Our global energy system is right at the heart of the matter. There are now over 9,000 companies, big and small, that have set science-based targets to reduce their emissions. Many of them are outperforming on their targets, with one of the key actions being the transition to clean energy. They are switching to renewables, upping their energy efficiency and electrifying wherever possible. This supports their climate targets and cuts costs, which, in a time of rising inflation, couldn’t be more important.
Only with a clear message from COP27 about the end of fossil fuels followed by national policies implemented rapidly to scale up renewables deployment can companies achieve their targets.
For example, at the national level, business urgently needs permitting processes to be streamlined. Public finance and education programmes are needed to help train the workforce with the skills for the clean energy transition. We need more proactive partnerships such as the important announcement this week where a coalition of countries including the U.S. and Japan pledged $20 billion of public and private finance to help Indonesia shut coal power plants and bring forward its power sector’s peak emissions date by seven years to 2030.
As part of this, the global financial system needs reforming. Reconfigured public finance and incentives will unleash private sector investments to immediately drive investments in the clean energy transition.
At COP27 we need an outcome that goes further than the Glasgow Climate Pact. Now’s the time for governments of the world to fully align with science and drive a just transition away from all fossil fuels.
All eyes are now on COP27 to deliver progress to maintain 1.5°C as the limit.