- By Georgina Rannard
- Climate Correspondent at COP28, Dubai
Nations and oil companies have pledged to make major progress in tackling global warming in a major new energy pledge at United Nations climate talks.
About 100 countries have pledged to triple global renewable energy use by 2030.
50 oil and gas companies, including Saudi Arabian giant Aramco, have pledged to stop adding planet-warming gases by 2050.
But it only covers emissions from manufacturing, not the burning of fossil fuels, and it doesn’t meaningfully tackle climate change, critics said.
There are no penalties for missing targets and promises are not binding.
“I’m very skeptical,” said Professor Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics and author of several UN climate change reports.
“The real challenge for the oil and gas industry is to move away from oil and gas production,” he said. “In the end nothing else matters.”
Not all affirmations seem new. Many oil companies that have signed the pledge have already announced plans to reduce their emissions to zero.
They allow companies to increase production in the short term, as long as they reduce oil and gas production by 2050.
A tripling of renewable energy will help phase out fossil fuels from the world’s energy system by 2050, the pledge says.
More at the COP28 climate summit
Addressing the summit on Saturday, COP28 President Sultan Al-Jaber said the new pledge “includes more countries and organizations from more sectors than ever before, all aligned with our North Star, 1.5C”.
World leaders agreed in Paris in 2015 to limit global warming to that level.
Burning large amounts of oil, gas and coal is fueling climate change, but leaders still can’t agree on how quickly the world needs to stop using them.
Mr Zafar called Saturday’s pledge “a great first step”.
“While many national oil companies have adopted net zero 2050 goals for the first time, I know they and others can and must do more,” he said. “We need the whole industry to reach 1.5C and set strong ambitions for decarbonisation.”
The UAE says the decarbonisation charter will accelerate climate action as oil and gas companies, which account for 40% of the world’s emissions, pledge to become net zero by 2050.
Achieving net zero means stopping adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
However, Carol Muffett, head of the Center for International Environmental Law, said the only way to ‘decarbonize’ carbon-based oil and gas is to stop production “quickly, completely, permanently”.
“Anything less is still industry greenwash.”
50 companies, including the state oil company of the United Arab Emirates, have pledged to completely stop emitting the planet-warming gas methane during oil and gas production by 2030.
In speeches on Saturday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said countries must commit to “renewable capacity, double energy efficiency and clean energy for all by 2030.”
To keep global temperature rises below 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the world must “phase out fossil fuels,” he said.
The International Energy Agency has previously said that if the world drills for new oil and gas, the world will not meet its climate commitments, including limiting temperature increases to no more than 1.5C.
“A rapid acceleration of clean energy is needed, and we have called for a tripling of renewables. But this is only half the solution,” said Tina Stige, climate ambassador for the Marshall Islands, one of the country’s most vulnerable. Climate change.
“The pledge cannot green those countries that are expanding fossil fuel production at the same time,” he adds.
The UAE’s COP28 negotiations drew criticism because the country is one of the world’s top 10 oil and gas producers and summit president Sultan Al-Jaber heads the giant Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc).
And world leaders address the third day of COP28.
Embracing renewable energy, Pope Francis said, “we can make the ecological transition to save the world by eliminating fossil fuels and educating people in less dependent lifestyles.”
The pontiff was unable to attend the Dubai summit in person due to ill health, so his speech was read by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin.