Climate change impacts are escalating: The climate crisis increasingly affects all aspects of human life, including food access, health, and habitation. This year, the world endured the hottest three-month stretch on record – a record that is expected to be regularly shattered in the years to come.
Fossil fuels are responsible for this climate chaos. Fossil fuels also endanger people directly every day, from the devastating repercussions for public and environmental health from toxic pollution to economic and political instability stemming from their vulnerability to market shocks and manipulation.
And yet: The transition is already underway. Fossil fuel demand is projected to peak this decade; all growth in energy supply came from renewable energy. The fossil fuel industry is facing huge stranded asset risks, having wasted $3.6 trillion to build out fossil fuel infrastructure above the requirements of net zero.
But the transition is not happening in a just and equitable way, and it is not happening fast enough. Powerful forces are lining up to slow or even reverse progress toward a sustainable, equitable energy future, seeking to obstruct the transition through energy colonialism and dangerous distractions.
Time is running out. All countries must transition to highly efficient renewable energy systems based on solar and wind, while moving away from all oil, gas, and coal. We need a sustained emergency effort to drive the transition forward at the greatest possible speed while respecting and protecting human rights – especially for those on the front and fence lines.
DEMANDS FOR COP28 OUTCOMES
The 28th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – COP28 – reflects a challenge and an opportunity for the global community. The need for binding commitments to phase out all fossil fuels is more urgent than ever.
The Global Stocktake assesses the world´s efforts to contain climate change. Its latest synthesis report shows clearly that phasing-out all fossil fuels and rapidly scaling up renewable energy is absolutely critical to deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement and keep the planet below the 1.5°C warming threshold. This scaling up to renewables must be combined with financial and technology support for countries without the financial or technical resources to undertake the energy transition at the necessary speed.
Governments must do everything within their power to take bolder action to limit dangerous global temperature below 1.5°C . They must:
- STOP all new oil & gas production and infrastructure projects
- PHASE OUT all fossil fuels: establish clear end dates for all fossil fuel production, ensuring a fast, fair and equitable transition
- DOUBLE the pace of energy efficiency by 2030 (from 2020 levels)
- TRIPLE renewable energy capacity by 2030: by deploying at least 1,500 GW of new renewable energy capacity each year by 2030 and beyond.
- DELIVER TRILLIONS of dollars of sustainable financing for rapid, just and equitable transition to 100% RE systems and adaptation in developing countries.
Taking these steps will not just limit climate change, they will bring myriad benefits to people across the globe while preserving intact forests and ecosystems which are currently under threat from oil and gas expansion.
Breaking the reliance on fossil fuels will have immediate and significant benefits to fenceline communities whose health has been sacrificed to the pollution from the extraction, transportation, processing, and consumption from oil, gas, and coal. It will save money: According to the International Energy Agency, powering the world to net zero would cost $12 trillion less and create tens of millions of new jobs over the next three decades than in the business-as-usual trajectory – and that’s before accounting for the trillions of dollars in annual damage that would be avoided by preventing loss and damage from even more severe climate impacts. And it will reduce energy poverty and enhance energy security by reducing people’s exposure to the volatile global market for fossil fuels and transitioning to decentralized, locally controlled energy shielded from supply chain disruptions.
OBSTACLES AND DANGEROUS DISTRACTIONS
The oil and gas industry has done everything possible to prevent a just energy transition, using their billions to obstruct, lobby at all political levels, and outright lie to the public. They are doing everything in their power to extend the life of a dying industry, lining the pockets of shareholders with little regard to the vulnerable communities and ecosystems damaged along the way, while offering lip service by way of miniscule investments in renewable energy technologies and greenwashed commitments.
A tiny club of wealthy countries is planning massive expansion of oil and gas production, even while claiming to be leaders in the climate fight. Just five countries – the U.S., Canada, Australia, Norway, and the United Kingdom – are responsible for over half (51%) of all planned oil and gas field developments from now to 2050.
These countries and others looking to expand fossil fuel production hope to shield themselves through pouring investments into dangerous distractions such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) and other forms of carbon dioxide removal (CDR), carbon offsets, hydrogen, and emissions intensity targets to justify their ability to continue to produce and sell fossil fuels and delay the necessary energy transition.
This is the opposite of what clear scientific evidence and economic projections say must happen. Even the rosiest outlooks for CCS admit that, despite billions sunk into such projects, only the barest fraction of emissions are captured as intended.
Instead, courageous politics and bold, enforceable policies must steer the phaseout of oil, gas, and coal production. Increasingly, countries such as Colombia and Kenya, and the state of California in the United States, are leading the way to true zero emissions. More must join. Countries whose economies depend on their domestic oil and gas resources must act with creativity and speed to reimagine their futures or risk having those decisions made for them by extreme weather disasters and vanishing demand for fossil fuels.
The United Arab Emirates, which holds the COP28 presidency, could make history by delivering an outcome that brings the global consensus into line with scientific and economic reality. It must work to secure a COP decision that oversees the phaseout of all fossil fuel production in a just and equitable way, with sufficient financial and technical support available to Global South countries who bear little responsibility for the climate crisis, yet experience its strongest consequences.
It is irrefutable that fossil fuels and the companies that profit from them are responsible for the climate crisis. The fossil fuel industry has also clearly shown that it will not be a genuine participant in the necessary solutions.
COP28 can only be considered a success if its outcomes reflect those truths. Global leaders must join together in recognition of the severity and urgency of the challenge of climate change: An end to fossil fuels.
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