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December 21, 2023

COP28: Now it's time for action

Going into COP28, the backdrop was the harsh reality reported by UNEP, stressing that current climate pledges would not achieve anywhere near limiting global warming to 1.5C. 
Arriving in Dubai it was evident that the COP28 Presidency had put in much effort ahead of the event to kick it off with strong agreements. Notably, the loss and damage fund to help vulnerable countries deal with more extreme weather stoked by global warming and tripling global renewable energy capacity by 2030.

There was a general sense of urgency and commitment to take on the hard conversations of how to decarbonize - transitioning away from fossils into renewables, green hydrogen and its derivatives. 

We were able to participate in discussions with public and private sector representatives on what it will take to accelerate the energy transition and decarbonize. In addition to these debates, we were honored to meet directly with influential leaders, such as the Indonesian Minister of Energy, Arifin Tasrif, Moroccan Minister of Energy, Leila Benali and Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Energy, David Turk. It was clear from these conversations that the governments fully understand what needs to be done.

Despite the strong opening, it looked as if COP28 would fizzle out with no agreement on fossil fuels. But at the last minute an agreement was reached, including the need to replace fossil fuels – marking the first time ever that fossil fuels have been mentioned in a COP agreement. While this is a great achievement and progress, the COP28 declaration is still not strong enough to build the necessary policies and roadmap for net zero. I would have liked to see a more ambitious agreement, and at Topsoe, we will keep pushing for stronger commitments to support the energy transition and realize net zero. 
When the final COP28 declaration was presented, it was emphasized that implementation is what’s going to make this a success. Now, we move on to the hard part, where world leaders must ensure certainty through ambitious and aligned policies, including mandates and incentives, so we can scale the production of eFuels, renewable fuels, and low-carbon fuels for net zero. 
The truth of the matter is that we have a very short amount of time left to make these tectonic shifts in our energy system. We desperately need to lower emissions as soon as possible. Global greenhouse gas emissions have to be reduced 43 percent before 2030 to stay on track for 1.5C. 
The transition from fossil fuels to renewables will not happen overnight, as we don’t yet have the renewable energy sources at the scale we need, and green alternatives must become competitive. Naturally, massively building out renewable energy sources and scaling Power-to-X solutions is the ultimate long-term solution. However, it will take years before we have enough renewable capacity to make the necessary impact. It will take time to build-out, mature and scale – and it will require a cumulative USD 150 trillion in financing to realize 1.5C in 2050, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). That’s why we need other solutions, like bio and low-carbon, to lower emissions. Solutions that are available today and at scale. Because the reality is that everything is not solved with the commitment to triple renewable energy. We need to build assurance through all available solutions to reach net zero.

We urgently need all hands on deck to deliver and accelerate the necessary frameworks and financing to scale technologies enabling net zero. I know that we will do everything we can at Topsoe to support, but we all need to work together across the public and private sectors to make it happen. 

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