The COP28 climate summit (28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC]), which opened on November 30 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), was expected to focus on the progress toward the greenhouse gas reduction targets set in the Paris Agreement and how to move forward to address climate change in the future. However, a number of notable things have already happened. Here is a brief overview of developments so far, particularly related to energy.
In September 2023, the Secretariat of the UNFCCC announced the results of the first technical report of the Global Stocktake (GST), a mechanism for evaluating progress of global implementation of climate change measures toward the Paris Agreement targets. This was the first GST since the signing of the Paris Agreement, and it noted that the current global emission reduction targets are not in line with those of the Paris Agreement, and pointed out that opportunities to limit emissions to the 1.5°C target are rapidly shrinking. In response, attention is now focused on whether COP28 will provide guidance on how to change course to achieve the 1.5°C target, as the entire world faces the need to strengthen climate change countermeasures.
- Implementation of the Loss and Damage Fund on the first day of the summit
On November 29, one day before the opening of the conference, a draft decision on the operating rules for the Loss and Damage Fund based on the recommendations of the Transitional Committee was released, and the proposal was adopted on the 30th, the first day of the conference, an uncommon development. Although the establishment of the Fund was decided at COP27 last year, the rules for its operation had been postponed, and now they have been set through a decision made at COP28. The UAE, the Presidency of COP28, immediately announced its contribution to the fund, the largest at $100 million (approx. 14.8 billion yen). Japan will contribute $10 million (about 1.48 billion yen).
2. Pledge to triple renewable energy capacity and double energy efficiency
On December 2, as a result of the summit discussions, 123 countries including Japan (as of December 7) endorsed a pledge to triple the global installed capacity of renewable energy and double energy efficiency by 2030. The world has come to a common understanding that the expansion of renewable energy and the improvement of energy efficiency are critically important to achieve the 1.5°C target. The Japanese government, on the other hand, seems to think that there is no need to immediately change its policy since the pledge aims to triple renewable energy worldwide, but it is necessary to rapidly expand renewable energy in Japan to achieve a rapid energy transition.
3. Pledge to triple the capacity of nuclear power
On the same day as the pledge to triple renewable energy, 22 countries, including Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Canada, agreed on a pledge to triple the world’s installed capacity of nuclear power generation compared to 2020 levels. This new target includes expanding the introduction of small modular reactors (SMRs) and advanced reactors, as well as hydrogen production using nuclear power, which has been criticized by civil society groups, emphasizing that nuclear power will not solve climate change.
4. Japan not participating in the Coal Transition Accelerator (CTA)
A new French-led initiative called the Coal Transition Accelerator (CTA) has been launched to promote a just transition from coal to clean energy by halting private financing for coal and focusing on supporting and accelerating clean energy development in coal-dependent regions. While the goal is to share expertise, develop new policies through best practices and lessons learned, and secure new sources of public and private financing, Japan, still highly dependent on coal, has decided to not participate in this initiative.
5. Japan receives two “Fossil of the Day” awards
On December 3, Japan received the Fossil of the Day, an award given to countries dragging their feet in combating climate change with their old, fossil-like thinking. The reason for the award, from Prime Minister Kishida’s speech in the previous day’s high-level segment, was that Japan’s domestic and international promotion of hydrogen and ammonia co-firing for thermal power generation as a contribution to decarbonization is greenwashing. The Japanese government has been criticized for its plan to increase the co-firing of hydrogen and ammonia, which is currently in the demonstration stage, to about 20% by 2030, and for its promotion of hydrogen and ammonia co-firing in other Asian countries under the “Asian Zero Emissions Community” (AZEC).
Then, on December 5, Japan was awarded a second Fossil of the Day. Once again, civil society around the world gave the Japanese government a harsh review of its declaration to “end new construction of domestic unabated coal power plants” as a decarbonization initiative while making serious efforts to prolong the life of coal power in Japan and abroad. This is the 22nd consecutive year that Japan has received the Fossil of the Day award.
6. More countries, including the US, sign on to the Powering Past Coal Alliance
On December 2, the United States announced that it had joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA), an international initiative launched in 2017 committed to phasing out unabated coal-fired power generation. Then on December 5, the PPCA announced that eight additional countries had joined the PPCA. Japan is now the only G7 country that is not a member of the PPCA, and although Prime Minister Kishida stated in his speech that Japan will end the construction of new domestic unabated coal-fired power plants, it has yet to set a target year for phasing out coal-fired power generation.
The nine new member countries are the United States, the United Arab Emirates, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, Iceland, Kosovo, Malta, and Norway, bringing the total number of member countries to 59.
COP28 is scheduled to last until December 12, and various statements and press releases have been released by JBC partner organizations, so please refer to them for more information.
Statements and press releases from JBC partner organizations:
- Kiko Network: [Joint Press Release] Nuclear power is not a solution to climate change (Link)
- FoE Japan: Press release: Activists at COP28 call on Japan to end financing for fossil fuels (Link)
- Renewable Energy Institute: Why Investments in Ammonia Co-firing to Coal Power are not Consistent with the 1.5°C Climate Goal (Link)