It’s the end of Week 1 of the COP. This is often the point when the negotiations seem stuck in a morass of complexities and differing views, and this year – despite the early momentum established by the announcements on loss and damage and contributions to the Green Climate Fund – is no different. COP28 will be defined by how the Parties respond to the Global Stocktake (GST) on emissions, and right now the negotiating text is awash with square brackets and options which will have to be narrowed down by the end of this COP into a final declaration.

We at Carbon Tracker are looking for accelerated climate action in line with what the science and the urgent need for action that the GST is showing us. Our view is grounded in the consistent findings of our research that renewables are now cheaper as an energy source than oil, gas, and coal; our support for the transition from a high-carbon to a low-carbon economy is a reflection of the real-world economics and finance now prevailing across the energy and climate complex.

The impact that the burgeoning renewables market will increasingly have on fossil fuel demand reads across to the other side of the equation: the supply-side, and the need for an accelerated phase-out of fossil fuels if we are to stay within safe limits of global warming. Here in Dubai, there is more attention in both the negotiating rooms and the public areas (see the momentum behind BOGA and the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty) on a phase-out than at any previous COP. Whether language on a phase-out makes it into the final GST text remains to be seen; it will inevitably come down to the politics, where the usual suspects are seeking to prevent and delay by advocating unproven solutions such as carbon capture and storage. It will be an enormous test for COP President Al Jaber, his impartiality, and his leadership.

The other defining issue will be finance and other support for developing countries, how they handle the impacts of climate, and the high economic and fiscal challenge of the transition. There is some political will here. But the sources of public finance and how best to scale up private capital are huge issues. This is why there is for instance renewed interest in tackling fossil fuel subsidies.

Against this background, Carbon Tracker at COP28 has sought to capture the agenda with reports and projects that, in a coordinated way, address these challenges of the transition and finance:

  • Our PetroStates of Decline report, published on the opening of the COP, has been very well-received for the way in which it describes how oil and gas producers will face growing fiscal and economic problems because of the transition;
  • our Driving Change report, published just last month, considers how most effectively the economic potential from EVs can be unlocked for the Global South, recognizing that the sale of EVs globally – especially in the Global North – is at a positive tipping point;
  • Carbon Tracker’s Global Registry of Fossil Fuels is viewed increasingly as an important component of the “data architecture” being assembled to inform the accelerated fossil fuel phase-out. The new report From Net Zero to New Zero and blog proposes a New Reserves and Resources metric to measure the stockpile of oil and gas reserves – vital if we are to understand their impact on the dwindling carbon budget.
  • One of the successes of COP28 to date has been the addition of new members to the Powering Past Coal Alliance, notably (and surprisingly) the US and the Czech Republic. The end of coal power may therefore be coming into view; our updated country coal profiles, a platform to inform policymakers, investors and other stakeholders, go into more detail about the future economic outlook for coal-fired power generation in key markets.”

The photo was provided by the UNFCC but is not an endorsement.