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World leaders kicked off the COP28 climate summit in Dubai on Friday with pledges to boost investment in green solutions and calls for more decisive action to cut greenhouse gases.
The United Arab Emirates, which is hosting the summit, opened the talks with a commitment of $30 billion. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak unveiled an £11 billion ($14 billion) offshore wind investment. Japan said it would stop building coal power plants that don’t have emissions-reducing technology.
Nations agreed yesterday on rules to launch a fund to compensate vulnerable nations hit by extreme weather events. Negotiators will have two weeks to untangle thornier issues, including what the world should do about planet-warming fossil fuels.
Here’s a rundown of developments so far today.
Japan Won’t Build New Unabated Coal Plants (6:15 pm)
“In line with its pathway to net zero, Japan will end new construction of domestic unabated coal power plants, while securing a stable energy supply,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.
The new pledge doesn’t affect plants already under construction, a Japanese government official told reporters ahead of the speech. Two coal plants began operating this year and another just outside Tokyo is scheduled to start in February. Coal plants are typically built to operate for between 30 and 50 years
Macron Calls for Global Reversal on Coal (6:05 pm)
French President Emmanuel Macron asked leaders to phase out coal and said poor countries’ development can’t be based on burning the most polluting fossil fuel.
“We must allow developing countries to catch up economically,” he said. “But that catch up must not be done on the basis of fossil fuels, especially coal.”
He also said that when it comes to the fund for climate damages, there’s a difference between “poor” and “intermediary” countries, and the money needs to go to “poor” countries. The fund’s governance needs to be “simple and clear” and funding must be awarded taking a “country-by-country approach,” he said.
Sunak Unveils New Investment in Offshore Wind Farm (6 pm)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a new deal between Masdar and RWE to jointly invest up to £11 billion in the UK’s Dogger Bank giant offshore wind farm.
“This is a huge boost for UK renewables, creating more jobs, helping to power 3 million homes and increasing our energy security,” Sunak said.
He urged the world’s largest emitters to drive progress, singling out China, but cautioned that “climate politics is close to breaking point” and that countries must bring the public with them by driving climate action in a “pragmatic and proportionate way.”
Vietnam’s $15.5 Billion Plan to Move Away From Coal (5:30 pm)
Vietnam will scale up renewables in its power mix to 47% by 2030 in exchange for $15.5 billion in public and private finance over the next three to five years. The investment plan was unveiled by Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Claire Coutinho, the UK’s secretary of state for net zero.
Von der Leyen said the plan, which was first announced after COP27 last year, would shave off significant carbon emissions and help the country move away from coal. It’s “a good example of everything we want to achieve at COP28,” she said.
Britain’s Labour Party Warns of a ‘US-Style Culture War on Climate’ (5:00 pm)
UK Labour Leader Keir Starmer, who’s well ahead of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in national polls, told reporters if he was premier the UK “will rise to the international stage, not retreat from it” at future COP summits.
Both Starmer and Labour’s Energy Secretary Ed Miliband pointed to Sunak’s decision to water down a number of green policies two months ago. Though Sunak chose to attend COP28, he is staying for less than 24 hours.
Britons “don’t want an imported US-style culture war on climate, they want a government who will tackle the climate crisis and cost of living crisis together,” Miliband said. “I think he’s just misjudged the public mood.”
World Bank Says Loss and Damage Fund Could Start in Three Months (3:42 pm)
The World Bank could have a fund to compensate vulnerable countries hit by extreme weather events up and running in as little as three months, according to a top executive.
The institution could be ready to dole out cash early next year, said Axel van Trotsenburg, senior managing director of the World Bank. He noted that’s the same amount of time it took to set up the Pandemic Fund, which has a similar structure to the one that will be used for the climate loss and damage vehicle.
Kenya’s Ruto Calls for New Global Climate Financing Pact (3:30 pm)
Kenya’s President William Ruto called on global leaders attending the COP28 climate summit in Dubai to agree on a new global climate financing pact to ensure developing countries can pursue both economic and environmental sustainability.
“We must establish a new global financing pact which ensures no country is ever forced to choose between its development aspirations and necessary climate action,” Ruto said. “Turning Africa into a green powerhouse is not just essential for the continent, it is also vital for global industrial decarbonization.”
Ruto called for the first global stocktake since the Paris Agreement to be inclusive and ambitious, and tied the need to phase out fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally to the goal of tripling renewable power capacity and doubling energy efficiency by the end of this decade.
India Offers to Host COP33 in 2028 (2:37 pm)
President Narendra Modi has offered his country as the host of COP33 in 2028. The world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases reaffirmed its target to achieve net zero emissions by 2070 and said it’s on track to reach a 50% clean power target in its grid.
Modi called for a “just, inclusive and equitable” energy transition and reminded dozens of global leaders present that climate change has been driven by the emissions of a handful of developed countries.
“Over the past century a small section of humanity has indiscriminately exploited nature,” he said. “However the entire humanity is paying the price for this, especially people living in the Global South.”
EU Commission VP Says Fossil Fuel Phase-Out Needed (2:21 pm)
Even if Europe does its utmost to reduce its own emissions, a “phase-out” of fossil fuels would be necessary to slow climate change on a global scale, European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefcovic said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.
Europe has “been hooked on Russian fossil fuels for many years,” Šefcovic said, adding that the only way out is a turn to renewables and an easing of the energy crisis.
Fighting Inequality Boosts Climate Change Resilience, Lula Says (12:42 pm)
The fights against inequality and climate change run parallel and benefit each other because they use the same tools, said Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
“I can’t imagine fighting climate change without fighting inequality,” he said. “To reduce socioeconomic vulnerabilities means to increase resilience vis à vis extreme events.”
Lula vowed to make Brazil “a role model” in the effort to reduce emissions and slow the pace of climate change as the country prepares to host COP30 in 2025. South America’s largest economy has been battered by extreme weather events this year, from deadly storms in the south to a devastating drought in the Amazon rainforest.
Brazil is on track to achieve its zero deforestation goal by 2030, he said.
UK’s King Charles Calls for More Climate Finance (12:31 pm)
The UK’s King Charles III addressed COP in a speech that made his long- and strongly held views on climate change plain.
He’s made similar speeches many times, but this is first time he’s addressed COP since he became King last year — a role where he’s expected to be less political. He was prevented from speaking at last year’s summit by the British government under the short-lived premiership of Liz Truss.
The current prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has drawn criticism for climate campaigners for walking back some of the UK’s green commitments.
While the king didn’t address UK policy, he laid out very specific ideas for global action, especially on mobilizing climate finance. It’s hard to imagine his mother, Queen Elizabeth, ever having talked about first loss risk guarantees.
“The hope of the world rests in the decisions you make,” he said.
UN Secretary-General Urges Total Phaseout of Fossil Fuels (12:25 pm)
“Do not double-down on an obsolete business model,” Guterres told fossil fuel company bosses. “Lead the transition to renewables.”
The climate summit’s success hinges on the global stocktake, an assesment of climate progress due to be delivered at this COP, creating a credible plan to “drastically cut emissions,” Guterres said, adding that it was not too late to avert climate crisis.
“The 1.5-degree limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels,” Guterres said. “Not reduce. Not abate. Phaseout – with a clear timeframe.”
Guterres also urged governments around the world to put a fair price on carbon, end fossil fuel subsidies, and adopt a windfall tax on profits.
UAE Launches Climate Investment Vehicle With $30 Billion (12:15 pm)
The UAE announced that it would contribute $30 billion to a new climate investment facility that it hopes will mobilize $250 billion by the end of the decade. ALTERRA — the largest private finance vehicle for climate change — was launched alongside BlackRock, Brookfield and TPG.
“Its scale and structure will create a multiplier effect in climate focused investment, making it a vehicle like no other,” said COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber, who will also chair ALTERRA’s board. Of that money, $6.5 billion will be dedicated to climate funds for investments, including in the global south.
Masdar Plans Green Bond (9:15 am)
Masdar, a major operator of solar power plants in the United Arab Emirates, is planning a second green bond issuance this year to help grow renewable capacity.
The bond issue will be of similar value to its first $750 million green bond earlier this year, Chief Financial Officer Niall Hannigan said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.
Hannigan is confident that Masdar’s target to increase capacity by the end of the decade to 100 gigawatt remains “very much in reach.” The plan may involve acquisitions, he said.
Masdar intends to make a number of announcements about increased capacity over the coming days of the COP28 climate summit which started this week in Dubai.
Masdar’s chairman is Sultan Al Jaber. The UAE faced criticism for naming Al Jaber president for COP28 as he is the chief executive officer of its main oil company which plans to raise crude production capacity.
(All times Dubai.)
--With assistance from Clara Ferreira Marques, Nayla Razzouk, John Ainger, Agnieszka de Sousa, Ellen Milligan and Ania Nussbaum.
(Updates throughout the day.)
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