If emissions are to be reduced, the use of fossil energy must decline and eventually disappear – E24

If emissions are to be reduced, the use of fossil energy must decline and eventually disappear – E24

The climate summit in Dubai is halfway over. There are two things in particular that will determine whether it will be successful.

  • Espen Barth Eddy
    Espen Barth Eddy

    Minister of Foreign Affairs (AFP)

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E24’s regular columnists write regularly and express their own positions.

Dubai. First, we have to agree on the first so-called “global review” after the Paris Agreement: how are things really going, are we on the right track, and if not, what will we do about it? Will the answer to this question be proportional to the scale of the challenge?

Second, this meeting is scheduled to finally address the problem in the room itself: the use of fossil energy. We simply will not be able to achieve climate goals without a radical restructuring of the world’s energy systems.

The meeting started well. For the first time in the history of climate summits, one of the most important decisions was already taken on the first day of the meeting, namely the formal establishment of the new Loss and Damage Fund. A large number of countries immediately announced significant financial contributions to the Fund, so that it becomes operational as early as 2024.

The next day, the vast majority of the world’s heads of state and government gathered for a two-day opening series. If anyone doubts that climate policy still matters at the world’s highest level, they should think again: climate summits now bring together more senior world leaders than the UN General Assembly. In fact, more than 170 countries have reached the top level.

The climate meetings are simply the largest gatherings in the UN family ever. As it should be, this is ultimately the greatest common challenge facing humanity. And if you listen to the posts and all the initiatives that were launched over the opening weekend, it seems as if most people realize exactly that.

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What to do with this, and who will do what, not to mention who will pay, are far more pressing questions.

the Only when the senior managers returned home did the talks begin in earnest. And it’s really complicated. Everything is connected to everything, as they say.

In global climate action, several main pathways are distinguished.

Regarding the first basic question Emission reductions. After all, that was the point in the first place: to limit greenhouse gas emissions so that global warming would slow compared to pre-industrial times and eventually stop. If the international community had been able to understand the problem of global warming when it became a serious concept, that would have been enough. But since we didn’t succeed, more and more focus shifted to… Adaptation, In other words, how we deal with climate change, across the world, and in all areas of society. All of this requires money, so it does Financing solutions It is important to support the changes needed to reduce emissions, improve adaptation, and support the most vulnerable groups in dealing with loss and damage.

Different countries have different priorities across these sectors, and different paths conflict with each other. Somewhat simplistically, one could say that parts of the Global South – especially many of the large emerging economies – were more interested in increasing financial contributions from industrialized countries, while Western industrialized countries, along with some of the most vulnerable countries, wanted Increase financial contributions from industrialized countries. Stronger focus on reducing emissions.

Precisely for this reason, it was very important for the President of the UAE Conference, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, to ensure that the Loss and Damage Fund was established. The alternative was to let this hang over the meeting like a sore throat, which would have quickly slowed or perhaps even prevented progress on other tracks.

Now more and more countries are willing to tell it like it is

Together with Singapore’s Climate Minister Grace Fu, I am responsible for leading ministerial-level consultations on emissions reduction. The work has been in preparation here for several months, with virtual and physical meetings between countries, in the same way as on the other tracks, where other pairs of ministers were in charge.

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Our mandate is to help ensure serious solutions are found that are consistent with the goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Although emissions are now finally beginning to decline in leading industrialized countries, global emissions continue to rise. The window of success is closing frighteningly quickly. Now more and more countries are willing to say it like this: it is simply impossible to achieve the goal if we do not succeed in fundamentally restructuring our energy dealings.

Then, first, we must ensure faster development of renewable energy. There are proposals on the table now to plan to triple the development. Second, we must become much better at using this energy efficiently: here the goal could be to double energy efficiency. We must also become better at define the priorities Energy use. This may seem to be agreed upon; However, the big question is whether it is possible to say explicitly that we should also phase out the use of fossil energy.

It wouldn’t help if all the renewable energy came on top of what we already have. If emissions are to decline, the use of fossil energy must decline and eventually disappear. More and more countries now seem willing to say what we now call G7 language: a complete phase-out of all fossil energy without carbon capture and storage; Phasing out fossil fuels relentlessly. This is, for example, what the European Union, the United States and Norway are calling for.

Dubai: Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Sture (AFP), Climate Minister Andreas Eriksen Byland (AFP) and Development Minister Anne Beth Tevenrim (AP) before departing to attend this year's climate summit.

In the coming days, much of the battle will be about exactly this. A number of middle-income countries and a number of large fossil energy producers remain resistant to the language of phase-out, with or without carbon capture.

Second, there will need to be a more precise definition of what you are actually opening up to if you have the floor discount: Does this mean, as some in the environmental movement fear, that it will be open to continuing as before if a little carbon capture is added on top? Or should that mean that they should only be opened for “reduction” in areas where it is particularly difficult to manage them using only renewable solutions, also known as It is difficult to mitigateSectors?

Dilemmas abound. Electricity will solve a lot, but hardly everything. The energy system of the future will need electrons and molecules. If you for example. By manufacturing the zero-emission molecules of the future, such as hydrogen and ammonia from natural gas via carbon capture, will we be able to reduce emissions enough? These alternative energy carriers could also be made, for example, for ships and industry by electrolysis – but this would again require huge amounts of emissions-free electrical energy, in addition to whatever is required to electrify everything that can be electrified.

Are we consuming too much natural energy, wind and solar energy when we have to produce this electricity as well? At the same time, we must confront the natural crisis and stop global deforestation. How much energy do we really need, in a world that is on track to provide nine billion people with a good life?

The task before us is nothing less than the greatest and most remote that humanity has ever faced. It’s not entirely easy. But what’s inspiring is that there are actually more and more people here in Dubai who see that this is exactly what we need, and that we have more and more knowledge that this is actually possible.

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Hanisi Anenih

Hanisi Anenih

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