Turning Knowledge into Action: Activating COP28’s Main Takeaways

How organizations can shape the post-fossil fuel landscape
Turning Knowledge into Action: Activating COP28’s Main Takeaways
Publ. date 20 Dec 2023
For the first time since the inception of the COP, fossil fuels took center stage at this year’s COP28, drawing a record attendance of 70,000 people. While many countries are disappointed by the outcomes of COP28, many observers highlight a historical moment in climate negotiations, marking the “beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era. This article summarizes the main results from the conference and explores how companies can proactively leverage the agreements made in Dubai to enhance their climate strategy. The provided download outlines steps organizations can take to initiate their Net Zero journey and contribute positively to a world aligned with the 1.5°C target.

Even before it started, COP28 faced widespread criticism due its location and its president. Expectations were low logically for the 28th United Nations climate change conference, where 2,456 lobbyists from the fossil fuel industry were accredited, four times the amount of last year’s summit.

Even though the final deal fell short to “phase out” oil, gas and coal use, the summit agreed to “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems in a just, orderly and equitable manner”, considered by many as an historical landmark. The nearly 200 Parties agreed on the world’s first “global stocktake” to ramp up climate action before the end of the decade and keep the global temperature limit of 1.5°C within reach.

The stocktake should be used by countries to develop stronger climate actions plans, due by 2025. It includes tripling global renewable energy capacity and doubling energy efficiency improvements by 2030 as well as phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. Furthermore, as 2023 is set to be the warmest year on record, Parties are encouraged to come forward with ambitious, economy-wide emission reduction targets, covering all greenhouse gases, sectors, and categories.

Despite these achievements, it is crucial to acknowledge the inclusion of loopholes offering the fossil fuel industry numerous escape routes. The final agreement outlines a pathway to transition away from fossil fuels which is not ambitious enough, by relying heavily on technologies such as carbon capture and storage, and mentioning gas as a “transitional energy”. Moreover, the deal lacks clear measurable targets, concrete support for means of implementation (especially finance) and accountability.

Looking ahead, the next two years will be critical to put the Paris Agreement fully to work. The UN Climate Change is currently developing transparency reporting and review tools to support Parties. Moreover, governments will need to establish new climate finance goals at the COP29 in Azerbaijan and to present new nationally determined contributions at the COP30 in Brazil.

Leveraging COP28’s main outcomes

The pledges which were made during the conference must now to be turned into concrete actions, so that real-economy outcomes follow as soon as possible. In addition to setting new Nationally Determined Contributions, governments need to support and incentivize the private sector in decarbonizing operations and setting ambitious emissions reduction targets.

The European Union, which demonstrated strong leadership in Dubai, has implemented rigorous reporting standards through the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, compelling organizations to disclose a wide range non-financial information. This sets the groundwork for accessing necessary funds to finance the transition, potentially paving the way for other regions and countries to follow the lead.

Enhancing organization’s climate strategy

Developing an ambitious net-zero strategy is an important starting point for organizations to contribute to transitioning away from fossil fuel. On top of benefiting society and the environment, ambitious companies can gain a competitive advantage and ensure long-term success. Some of the benefits include:

  • Being more resilient and adaptable to the potential negative effects of climate change and ensuring a sustainable and resilient supply chain
  • Attracting environmentally conscious investors, customers, and talents
  • Achieving operational cost reductions and fostering innovation
  • Enhancing reputation and brand value
  • Staying ahead of evolving compliance requirements

To grasp these benefits, organization must ground the net-zero strategy in their operating context and implement it pragmatically. The steps for developing a successful strategy are detailed in the accompanying download and summarized through the following points:

Assess the organizations’ carbon footprint (Scope 1 & 2) and evaluate the emissions stemming from the value chain (Scope 3) to understand where the biggest impacts occur and where to focus efforts. For more information about how to conduct a Scope 3 inventory, please refer to the following article.

Establish Science-Based Net-Zero targets, following guidance from SBTi, encompassing near-term targets for emissions reductions within the next 5 to 10 years, as well as a long-term targets, to reduce deep emissions by 2050 at the latest.

Counterbalance residual emissions by engaging in activities such as abatement, to reduce GHG emissions within the value chain, or emission compensation, to ultimately achieve Net-Zero.

Develop credible transition plans to achieve emission reduction targets and provide transparent disclosures on progress.

The report “The Business of Climate Recovery”, developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, outlines promising ambition and action platforms which can help businesses to move beyond mere commitments and targets.

Finch & Beak can help you to accelerate your climate journey

Our purpose is to accelerate sustainability within the business of our clients. Together with our colleagues from SLR Consulting, we offer a wide range of Climate Resilience & Net Zero support services, including:

  • Footprint Calculations
  • Climate and Net-Zero Strategy Development
  • TCFD and CSRD Readiness Assessments
  • Full TCFD Support

If your organization requires support in developing its Net-Zero Strategy, contact Johana Schlotter at johana@finchandbeak.com or +31 6 28 02 18 80 to discuss how we can assist you.

About Damien Manhes

Dynamic sustainability professional eager to help companies become a force for positive change.  damien@finchandbeak.com

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