A historic green agreement was signed at COP28: why it concerns your business, even if you think otherwise

A day and a half late, after heated debates and scandalous statements, delegates to the climate summit in the UAE reached consensus and agreed on the text of the final communique. Now the conference may be closed — after all, just the day before, due to the uncertain status of the negotiations, the organizers sent out an information memo to participants, explaining how the infrastructure of the formally ended, but de facto ongoing event works.

At the instigation of COP28 President Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the long-awaited document was signed in just two minutes. As expected, the original – too abstract – text of the final agreement was tightened and supplemented with specific “beacons”. For the first time, it obliges signatories — including OPEC members — to begin effectively phasing out the use of oil, gas and coal.

What did you finally manage to agree on? This agreement has already been pathetically dubbed the “beginning of the end” for fossil fuels.”

Of course, international diplomacy would not be itself if it did not leave several loopholes in the “radical” document. In particular, there is no enforcement mechanism — other than public shaming — for countries that delay or sabotage the transition process.

It is the lack of clear deadlines for each stage of the transition that is the most criticized provision of the hard-fought document. Meanwhile, at current rates of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, warming of 1.5 degrees will occur before 2030, and an increase in global temperatures of two degrees by 2046. At the moment, hardly anyone can say how to force China to reduce coal production or India to completely switch to green technologies.

How realistic is it to meet all the requirements? The fact that even in this version the deal faced colossal opposition from the oil lobby is clear evidence that the transition process is unlikely to be easy and unanimous.

Nikki Reisch, director of the climate and energy program at CIEL, the Center for International Environmental Law, called the summit a “fossil fuel failure.”

“At COP28, countries are faced with a choice between fossil fuels and life. And big polluters chose fossil fuels,” he was quoted as saying by the media.

So was the current COP28 a step towards saving the climate? The most significant result of COP28 remains the agreement adopted a few days ago that by 2030 the use of renewable energy sources should be tripled and energy efficiency doubled. Note that achieving the target of 11,000 green gigawatts by 2030 requires a transition from today's annual renewable energy deployment rate of 300 GW to 1,000 GW.

Also, the unconditional results of the summit include the creation of a fund to help needy states in the fight against climate change. It is estimated that $4.3 trillion in annual climate finance will be needed by 2030 to meet climate goals.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by 43% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels.. A parallel goal is to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century.

And how can we confront climate challenges? The mathematical model shows that as a result of current efforts, emissions should stabilize and stop growing after 2030, and within six years emissions would be 2% below 2019 levels. This means that global emissions will peak within the current decade.

The cost of economic losses from extreme weather events is estimated at $264 billion in 2022, up 23% from 2010–2014.

According to the Lancet Countdown report, “no one will escape the impacts of climate change, but people living in poorer countries are particularly vulnerable.”

What did delegates bring to COP28? Environment ministers from the 27 EU countries have agreed a common position for the UN international climate conference COP28, with relaxed targets for cutting emissions and moving away from fossil fuels.

The EU has been pushing for a largely fossil fuel-free global energy sector well before 2050 in a bid to achieve a fully or largely decarbonized energy system in the 2030s.

Fit for 55 package aims to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030. Environmental activists say the goal is not ambitious enough, pushing for a 55% net emissions reduction and at least 65% gross or 76% net emissions reductions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2040 at the latest.

The EU position also calls for peaking emissions this decade and phasing out “unabated” fossil fuels.

The position calls for the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies, a sensitive issue for a number of countries.

collected the main facts that characterize the scale of the ongoing processes.

1. Countries in Africa and the Global South contribute the least to emissions but bear the brunt of the harmful effects of climate change.

2. As countries become richer, highly processed foods, sugar and fats make up a larger portion of the diet. Growing economies are viewed by corporations as new markets that are often poorly regulated. For example, the global alcohol industry is targeting African countries very aggressively.

According to the UN, health and environmental damage caused by food production costs the world $10 trillion a year, or 10% of global GDP.

3. In the US, 50% of all biodiesel is already produced from soybean oil.. In 2023, the consumption of soybean oil in biofuel format for the first time overtook all other applications, including food.

As a result, one of the most promising areas for American startups is developing soybean varieties with a higher oil content than the current average of 20%.

All four giants from the so-called ABCD group — Archer-Daniels-Midland, Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus — have opened soybean processing plants or announced plans to build or expand them in the next few years.

4. Global warming increases the likelihood of outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid fever and polio.

According to the World Health Organization, there were twice as many cholera cases in 2022 as in 2021.. Outbreaks have even been reported in countries where cholera has been under control for many years.

It is predicted that by 2080, more than 8 billion people could be at risk of contracting malaria and dengue fever.

5. As the planet warms, many species of animals are forced to move to new areas, and this also creates conditions for the spread of zoonotic diseases — infectious diseases transmitted to humans from non-human animals.

It is estimated that zoonoses are responsible for 2.5 billion human illnesses and 2.7 million human deaths worldwide each year, and that animals have played an important role in almost every major disease outbreak since 1970.

6. Air pollution is estimated to cause more than 4 million premature deaths worldwide each year.

Air quality is expected to deteriorate, including due to dust, smoke, and combustion products from forest fires, which have become more frequent due to global warming.. Children are especially susceptible to illness from air pollution because their brains, lungs and other organs are still developing.

Meanwhile, deaths from air pollution caused by fossil fuels have fallen 16% since 2005, with 80% of that decline due to efforts to reduce pollution from burning coal.

7. Drinking water becomes saltier. Rising sea levels cause more seawater to flow into rivers and other freshwater sources during floods and tropical storms. In the coastal district of Dakope Upazila in Bangladesh, researchers tested the urine of pregnant women and found that they were taking in up to 15 grams of salt every day through drinking water alone—three times more than WHO recommends.

8. Extreme weather events will worsen living conditions for more than 100 million displaced people worldwide. The Pakistan floods alone in 2022 are responsible for 10 million internally displaced people out of a record 71 million worldwide.

According to the International Federation of the Red Cross, if the climate status quo continues, by 2050 more than 200 million people will need assistance every year.

9. The past eight years have been the hottest on record, and records are being updated regularly. Last summer had the hottest days on Earth in 125,000 years, satellite data and isotopic analysis of lake sediments and ice cores have shown.

Heat-related deaths among people over 65, who are more vulnerable, have risen 85% since the 1990s. Without rising global temperatures, the number of such deaths would increase as the population increases, but only by 38%.

According to the UN report, against this background, many countries — Russia, Saudi Arabia, the USA and others — are increasing oil and gas production.

Researchers at Dartmouth College estimate that extreme heat, exacerbated by climate change, will cost the global economy $16 trillion over 20 years.

10. According to new forecasts from the Climate Vulnerable Countries Most at Risk Forum, if temperatures rise by 2°C, heat-related deaths will increase by 370% and lost work hours will increase by 50% by 2050. By 2041–2060, some 525 million people could be moderately or severely food insecure and at risk of malnutrition.

eleven. Global investment in clean energy rose 15% to $1.6 trillion in 2022, outpacing investment in fossil fuels by 61%. In 2022, 90% of the increase in electrical capacity came from renewable energy sources.

12. The rich countries that signed a pledge at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit to pledge $100 billion to fight climate change for poor countries have only now done so, two years later than expected.

Demonstrating that the promise has been kept should be a significant boost to the UN COP28 climate talks in Dubai.

The failure of developed countries to fully meet the $100 billion target by 2020 has become a dark cloud over the UN climate negotiations, eroding confidence and stalling progress.. The news that the long-overdue goal has been achieved will help restore much-needed trust between developing and developed countries, which will go a long way towards achieving a positive outcome at COP28,” media quoted Ani Dasgupta, president of the World Resources Institute think tank.

13. A study by economist Nicholas Stern found that by 2030, developing countries will need about $2 trillion a year to transition their economies to a low-carbon basis and adapt infrastructure to extreme weather conditions.. Most of the amount will come from the private sector.