Solar panels in India.

Gopalakrishna Devraj inspects the solar panels at the Fortum solar park in Karnataka state, one of India's biggest solar energy producers.

(Photo: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Landmark Report Details Just Path to Energy Transition and 1.5°C Target

Recommendations include tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030, phasing out fossil fuels by 2050, and providing the Global South with the means to fund its energy transition.

As world leaders prepare to gather at the COP28 global climate talks next week in Dubai, 350.orgpublished a report Wednesday detailing how negotiators can draft a just and effective global transition to renewable energy.

One of the main agenda items at COP28 will be a worldwide target for renewable energy. Yet this target must be accompanied by a 2050 phaseout of fossil fuels and funds to speed the transition in the Global South, 350.org concluded.

"A renewable energy target at COP28 will only constitute a meaningful step towards climate justice if it is accompanied by a clear roadmap for implementation that includes equitable mechanisms and commitments in the financial and policy realms, as well as an urgent and equitable phaseout of fossil fuels," Andreas Sieber, 350.org associate director of global policy, said in a statement. "Without these, any agreement would represent a hollow, 'easy win' for the COP28 President Al Jaber, and risk allowing polluting countries to hide behind a renewables goal while continuing to emit fossil fuels."

"To achieve the proposed global renewable energy target by 2030, massive growth in financial investment into renewable energy is required in the Global South outside China, from both private and public sources."

The report, fully titled Power Up for Climate Justice: Financing and Implementing a 1.5°C-Aligned Global Renewables Target, also details how the target itself can be meaningful.

"For the global renewable energy target at COP28 to address global energy needs and redress fossil fuel dependency, it must include commitments to triple fair, safe, and clean renewable energy capacity by 2030 and deploy 1.5 terawatts per year thereafter, double energy efficiency by 2030, and completely phaseout of fossil fuels by 2050," said 350.org executive director May Boeve.

The report further argues that the target should be based on demonstrably effective technologies like wind and solar power.

"There is no room for dangerous distractions and unproven technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage, nuclear energy, ammonia co-firing, which do not address the root causes of the climate crisis, and often cannot be implemented at scale," the report authors wrote.

They also emphasized the importance of providing poorer nations with the funds to scale up their renewable energy buildouts.

"To achieve the proposed global renewable energy target by 2030, massive growth in financial investment into renewable energy is required in the Global South outside China, from both private and public sources," Sieber said. "Barriers such as debt and the inequitable cost of capital in the Global South, significantly hinder investment in renewable energy."

Only $260 billion was invested in the Global South in 2022, the report notes, even though the International Energy Agency has said that $1.9 trillion is needed per year by 2030 in order to limit global heating to 1.5°C while providing energy to around 5 billion people—an amount of finance seven times 2022 levels.

The report offers several suggestions for how that funding can be realized, including canceling debt; sending the Global South $100 billion a year in concessional finance, providing it with $200 billion a year in grants; and channeling money away from fossil fuels by taxing profits, shifting subsidies and investments from fossil fuel projects to renewables, taxing wealth, issuing more Special Drawing Rights from the IMF, and using existing infrastructure funds.

The report comes at a crucial time for climate action. This year, 2023, is likely to be the hottest year in 125,000 years, and the U.N. concluded this week that current pledges put the world on course for 2.9°C of warming beyond preindustrial levels. But 350.org argues it's not too late to limit warming with ambitious action.

"The Paris Agreement is the landmark multilateral framework to stop climate change, and COP28—which includes the Global Stocktake of whether the world is on track to meet this target—is a pivotal moment to achieve its intended goal: limiting global heating to no more than 1.5°C," the report authors said.

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