Decoding Global Climate Initiatives: From COP28 to the Green Energy Transition

With the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai now upon us, we’ve highlighted everything you need to know in light of the increased international climate protection measures that are poised to shape European law.

What to Expect: The World Climate Change Conference

This year's World Climate Change Conference will take place in Dubai from 30th November 2023 to 12th December 2023. It presents a multitude of opportunities for advancing climate protection. This year, the Conference will focus on accelerating energy policy, providing financial support to developing countries in their efforts to take climate action and understanding the impact of climate change on nature, people, lives and livelihoods.  

The Green Energy Transition 

On 5th December 2023, energy will be the central theme of the conference, with discussions focusing on rapid decarbonisation and energy transition and the associated economic opportunities. Key topics will include:

  • the mass deployment of renewable energy
  • greater energy efficiency
  • innovation and action for heavy-emitting sectors
  • unlocking the potential of hydrogen
  • decarbonising oil and gas supply through methane reduction and carbon management technologies. 

The conference will also address the issue of universal energy access and the requirements of workers during the energy sector transition. Special attention will be given to cooling as a critical factor for both mitigation and adaptation. 

Accelerating Energy Transition: A Panel Discussion with Matthias Lang

Dr. Matthias Lang, partner in Bird & Bird’s Energy & Utilities group, will join a panel in Dubai to discuss how we can speed up the approval procedure for environmental permitting, a crucial step in accelerating the energy transition and the expansion of the grid.

Understanding the EU Council’s Position on Global Climate Targets

The Council of the European Union has already agreed on a common position in the run-up to the conference, as of 16th October 2023. It supports the goal of tripling global renewable energy capacity and doubling energy efficiency by 2030 and also emphasises the importance of pursuing even more ambitious, global climate targets, in line with The Paris Agreement, so that this  target remains achievable. 

COP28 and The Paris Agreement

In advance of COP28, the Council stressed that the current nationally-determined contributions towards global climate targets and their updates are inadequate to meet the Paris Agreement’s temperature goal. The Council strongly advises that all Parties review their contributions and, if necessary, they should increase their ambition and update their long-term strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In particular, the Council states that major economies should have significantly increased the ambition of their nationally determined contributions and updated their long-term greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies to include the goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest.

The EU’s Commitment to Mobilising Climate Finance

The Council reaffirms the strong commitment of the EU and its Member States to achieving the collective target of mobilising USD 100 billion for climate finance by 2025, through meaningful climate action and transparent implementation. It expects to reach this target by 2023 and urges all relevant countries and partners to ramp up their efforts towards this goal by providing increased and additional support for climate action. This should include responses to loss and damage, as well as the identification of new and innovative sources of finance, including contributions from the fossil fuel sector. The aim is to support the most vulnerable countries in reducing the impact of climate change and increasing their resilience against it. 

Reducing Methane Emissions in the Energy Sector 

On 15th November 2023, just days before COP28 began, the EU Council and Parliament reached a provisional political agreement on regulation for tracking and reducing methane emissions in the energy sector. The energy sector, encompassing coal, oil and gas industries, is the second largest source of human-induced methane emissions, which are huge contributors to climate change.

What will the new regulation cover?

The new legal act will provide a framework for reducing energy sector methane emissions throughout Europe and global supply chains. It aims to stop the avoidable release of methane into the atmosphere and to minimise leaks of methane by fossil energy companies operating in the EU. The new regulation covers:

  • improved measurement, reporting and verification of methane emissions in the energy sector.
  • an immediate reduction in emissions through mandatory leak detection and repair and a ban on venting and flaring practices, which involve the release of methane directly into the atmosphere; and,
  • a methane transparency requirement on imports, which includes data collection on how and if exporter countries/companies are measuring, reporting and mitigating methane emissions, with a view to establishing a methane intensity profile of those entities.

The "Global Methane Pledge" 

In 2021, prior to this new regulation, a joint EU-US "Global Methane Pledge" was launched with the goal of reducing global methane emissions by 30% by 2030, compared to 2020 levels. Whilst around 150 countries have signed up, energy powerhouses like China, India and Russia have not. However, just a couple of weeks before COP28, the US and China announced new agreements to collaborate on reducing greenhouse gas emission and the rollout of renewable energy sources. Both countries have announced that they will include methane in their climate action plans, and, additionally, Beijing has revealed a plan to control its emissions. 

The Global Stocktake: A Turning Point for Climate Action? 

As COP28 encourages people around the world to take action on climate change, the first-ever “Global Stocktake” will also play an important role in moving people towards climate action. The Global Stocktake is a comprehensive review and assessment process that assesses the collective progress made by countries in tackling climate change and achieving the goals set out in the Paris Agreement in 2015. First findings from the Global Stocktake indicate that we are not on track to meet these goals. The Global Stocktake emphasises the urgent need for action to mitigate global warming. Alongside international initiatives, it puts pressure on the outcome of COP28. This could result in more ambitious targets and specific measures. 

A number of Bird & Bird lawyers will be in Dubai for COP28 this year to engage in discussions and gain direct insights into key developments for the energy sector. We will keep you informed about the outcomes of these discussions. 

For more information:

  • A detailed overview of the COP28 program can be found here
  • The full Council position ahead of COP28 can be found here.
  • Goals of the EU for COP28 can be found here.

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