Emirates, global renewables agency want to triple

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the United Arab Emirates’ clean energy company Masdar have joined forces to create a path to tripling the world’s renewable energy capacity by 2030, ahead of the UN’s next annual climate conference, COP28.

The two signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday (11 May), setting up a project to identify the challenges slowing down renewable rollouts in different regions and develop recommendations before COP28.

“The world needs to commit to tripling global renewable energy capacity by 2030 and to double it again by 2040,” said Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the chairman of Masdar and elected host of COP28, which will be held in the United Arab Emirates.

“This joint research project with IRENA will emphasise the vital role of renewable energy in limiting global warming when the world comes together at COP28,” he added.

According to IRENA, renewables account for 40% of installed generation capacity globally. However, while countries are rolling out more renewables, including adding a record 300 gigawatts (GW) in 2022, the world needs to move faster to slash emissions and avoid drastic climate change.

“The energy transition is off track. IRENA’s World Energy Transitions Outlook indicates that the deployment of renewables must reach 1000 GW annually to keep the 1.5°C target alive,” said Francesco La Camera, the director general of IRENA.

“The transition to renewables provides a sustainable and affordable solution to many of the challenges we face today, and we have the technology to deploy at speed and scale,” he added.

EU to focus on emissions reductions

It is yet to be seen whether the idea is supported by the European Union, which already has a target of 42.5% for renewables in its energy mix by 2030.

Going into COP28, the EU’s key focus will be emissions reductions, and Brussels does not want to risk this being muddied by a renewables target.

“A global renewables target, good as it is, should not be a distraction from the need to reduce unabated fossil fuels and fast,” a Commission official told EURACTIV when asked whether the EU would back the initiative.

“A global renewables target at COP28 should be linked to the fossil fuel phaseout,” the official added, saying the EU will consider different initiatives but should not be an either-or between renewables and emissions reductions.

It is clear that Brussels wants the focus of COP28 to be on reductions by major emitters, particularly those countries in the G20.

“There’s no way, no way, we’re going to achieve any of our goals if we do not do more on mitigation. We need urgently to reduce our emissions,” said EU climate chief Frans Timmermans at the Petersburg Dialogue.

“If we do not do more on mitigation, whatever we do on finance, on adaptation on loss and damage, will fall short of what we need,” he added.

COP president supports ‘all sources of energy’

There are already concerns about a lack of pressure from the COP presidency regarding phasing out fossil fuels.

Earlier this month, the Financial Times reported that environment ministers, including Germany’s Annalena Baerbock and Denmark’s Dan Jørgensen, were at odds with the COP presidency over long-term fossil fuel use with carbon capture to remove emissions.

This was something pushed by Al Jaber at the Petersberg Dialogue in Berlin. He said the world should maintain “all sources of energy” and reduce emissions using carbon capture and storage, a technology yet to be fully rolled out at scale.

There were already concerns from some about Al Jaber’s appointment at the beginning of the year. Alongside heading Masdar and being minister of industry and advanced technology, Al Jaber runs the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. At the time, the EU threw its weight behind him.

COP28 will take place in Dubai in November and December. It will be proceeded with the first Global Stocktake, which aims to see whether the world is on track to prevent drastic climate change and is expected to show the world is falling behind in reaching its goal.

EU climate chief defends oil CEO’s appointment as COP28 boss

Even though Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber is the CEO of the UAE’s national oil company, he is “extremely well placed to lead us into a successful COP” because of his involvement in renewable energies, EU climate chief Frans Timmermans told EURACTIV.

[Edited by Alice Taylor and Frédéric Simon]

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