The headline outcome of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai, COP28, 30 November to 13 December 2023, was an agreement to “transition away from fossil fuels”. This initiative, described as ‘historic’ by many delegates, is an attempt to reach global net zero emissions by 2050, and is presented as part of the Global Stocktake, the first COP text to mention a global shift away from using fossil fuels.

The 198 individual states that have signed the agreement will now be asked to set emissions reduction targets covering all greenhouse gases and in line with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C over the next two years. However, the text recognises that the targets should be set ‘in light of different national circumstances’, a reference to the fact that poorer countries may find reducing emissions more difficult than wealthier ones.

The future role of fossil fuel was a key issue at COP28, which was hosted in the UAE, one of the world’s largest oil and gas producers. Saudi Arabia and other Opec countries had pushed hard for a weak agreement, to the extent that Saudi Arabia delegates had, on the last day of the conference, refused to sign a final declaration that mentioned fossil fuels. The result was a draft document that caused outrage by dropping all references to phasing out fossil fuels, and offered instead a menu of options that countries could take.

The uproar among delegates led to frantic diplomatic efforts overnight on 12 December to ‘repair’ the original draft declaration, by bringing back the reference to fossil fuels. And on 13 December, a day after the conference should have closed, this was achieved when delegates reached a final agreement to transition away from fossil fuels.

Key outcomes – actions, aims and resolutions

The following is a brief digest of the other initiatives and progress reports, among the 50 introduced at the conference, of most relevance to the power industry.

  • Day one of the climate summit saw the first big breakthrough, agreement on a loss of damage fund first mooted at COP27 to compensate poorer states for the effects of climate change.
  • The COP 28 presidency took a leading role in launching the Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge. With the endorsement of 130 national governments and the EU, the Pledge stipulates that signatories commit to work together to triple the world’s installed renewable energy generation capacity to at least 11 000 GW by 2030 and to collectively double the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements from around 2% to over 4% every year until 2030.
  • The presidency also led the launch of initiatives focused on collaboration towards reducing sectoral emissions, working with Parties and non-Party stakeholders. The Global Cooling Pledge for COP 28 includes 66 national government signatories committed to the aim of reducing cooling-related emissions across all sectors by at least 68 % globally, relative to 2022 levels, by 2050.
  • The 37 national government participants of the Mutual Recognition of Certification Schemes for Renewable and Low-Carbon Hydrogen and Hydrogen Derivatives will seek to work towards mutual recognition of their respective certification schemes.
  • The 52 signatories of the Oil and Gas Decarbonisation Charter commit to net-zero operations by 2050 at the latest, ending routine flaring by 2030, and near-zero upstream methane emissions.
  • The Powering Past Coal Alliance announced the addition of new national and subnational governments into the Alliance, working to advance the transition from unabated coal power generation to clean energy. Coinciding with this progress, France, together with other countries and organisations, launched the Coal Transition Accelerator, which aims to share expertise, design new policies through best practices and lessons learned, and unlock new sources of financing to facilitate just transitions from coal to clean energy.
  • The newly-launched Declaration to Triple Nuclear Energy raises a goal of tripling nuclear energy capacity globally by 2050 and inviting shareholders of international financial institutions to encourage the inclusion of nuclear energy in energy lending policies, was endorsed by 22 national governments.
  • The High-Level Champions (disgnated national organisers), working with the International Renewable Energy Agency, launched the Utilities for Zero Alliance, having 31 partners, including 25 global utilities and power companies, united for a joint commitment to advance electrification, renewables-ready grids, and clean energy deployment.
  • Countries involved in the Latin American and Caribbean Renewables Hub have raised the target for renewable energy in total electricity generation to 80 % by 2030, from 70 %, and aim to reach a share of renewable energy in the total energy supply of 36 % by 2030.
  • A number of national governments and organisations announced commitments to climate finance to areas including but not limited to the Green Climate Fund, Adaptation Fund, Least Developed Countries Fund, and Special Climate Change Fund.
  • 13 national governments endorsed the UAE Leaders’ Declaration on a Global Climate Finance Framework, which will work to unlock the investment opportunity of climate finance through collective action.
  • The Global Capacity Building Coalition, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and with the engagement of organisations including the UN, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and other multilateral development banks, aims to significantly increase the availability and effectiveness of climate finance technical assistance programmes for financial institutions in emerging markets and developing economies. Eight export credit agencies, in partnership with the Innovation and Knowledge Hub at the University of Oxford, Future of Climate Cooperation, and the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) launched the UN-convened Net-Zero Export Credit Agencies Alliance (NZECA) to help decarbonise global trade and facilitate joint action from public and private finance.
  • To strengthen collective action to build climate resilience at the scale and speed required in highly vulnerable countries and communities, 78 national governments (including the EU) and 40 organisations endorsed the COP 28 UAE Declaration on Climate Relief, Recovery and Peace. Signatories commit to enhancing financial support for climate adaptation and resilience, understanding and improving good practice and programming, and strengthening co-ordination, collaboration, and partnerships. They will reconvene at COP 29 to review progress.
  • The presidency, with Bloomberg Philanthropies, held a first-of-a-kind Local Climate Action Summit, resulting in the launch of the Coalition for High Ambition Multilevel Partnership (CHAMP) for Climate Action. A total of 65 national governments signed CHAMP commitments to enhance co- operation, where applicable and appropriate, with subnational governments in the planning, financing, implementation, and monitoring of climate strategies.
  • The Buildings Breakthrough, launched with the Governments of France and Morocco, together with UNEP, aims to make near-zero emissions and climate-resilient buildings the new normal by 2030 under the wider Breakthrough Agenda.
  • The Technology Executive Committee, together with Enterprise Neurosystem – a non-profit open-source artificial intelligence community – launched the AI Innovation Grand Challenge to identify and support the development of AI-powered solutions for climate action in developing countries.
  • Accountability is integral to all actors and all types of global climate action. Some of the initiatives launched at COP 28 have already committed to reconvene at future COPs to discuss their progress and implementation. A number of existing initiatives have published progress reports to present their achievements and challenges, representing a growing momentum on this topic as well as supporting greater accountability.
  • With the first Global Stocktake slated to be concluded at the end of COP 28, the new five-year cycle on climate action will begin under the Paris Agreement. With this in mind, the High-Level Champions, the Marrakech Partnership and others have compiled the ‘2030 Climate Solutions: an Implementation Roadmap’, a set of solutions framed in specific actions, with insights from a wide range of non-Party stakeholders on effective measures being undertaken that need to be scaled up and replicated as well as current gaps that need to be bridged to halve global emissions, address adaptation gaps and increase the resilience of four billion people from vulnerable groups and communities to climate risks by 2030.

Renewables agreements signed at COP28

Green H2 via Amsterdam

Masdar, with the Port of Amsterdam, SkyNRG and Zenith Energy Terminals have signed a Joint Study Agreement to assess the feasibility of a dedicated liquefied green hydrogen supply chain for Masdar- produced hydrogen to the port.

Masdar has announced its goal of achieving 100 GW renewable energy capacity and green hydrogen production of 1 million tonnes per annum annually by 2030.

Masdar expands its European presence

Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company PJSC – aka Masdar – with Taaleri Energia, a Finland-based renewable energy developer and fund manager, have acquired eight hybrid renewable energy projects in Poland.

Masdar and Taaleri Energia have purchased the projects from Domrel Biuro Uslug Inwestycyjnych (Domrel), which specialises in the development of RES power plants across Poland. Once operational, the eight projects, which include solar photovoltaic and onshore wind, will have a combined capacity of over 1 GW.

CIP launches GMF II growth fund

On 4 December Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners announced the launch of its Growth Markets Fund II (GMF II). With a focus on developing and building offshore and onshore wind, solar PV, energy storage and Power-to-X projects in selected high growth middle-income markets across Asia, Latin America and EMEA, the fund has a target size of $3 billion and is expected to deliver renewable energy infrastructure projects reflecting over $10 billion of capital investment. Renewable energy power capacity will need to at least triple by 2030 for the global community to stay on the path to net-zero and investments in clean energy must more than quadruple.

Renewables development in W Africa

Masdar and PwC Middle East launched a report, ‘Accelerating Renewable Energy Investment in West Africa’ which highlights the 2000 GW potential of the region and describes the reforms needed to increase private sector investment. It suggests that pro-investment policies, coupled with renewable energy technologies, could transform the sector.

Large-scale green H2 production in Europe

Verbund Green Hydrogen and Masdar have undertaken a joint study to explore the development of green hydrogen, to be used to help decarbonise hard-to-abate industries in Spain and central Europe.

The partners have signed an agreement to move forward with plans to analyse the feasibility of building one of Europe’s largest green hydrogen production plants in central Spain.

DTEK to implement largest wind farm in E Europe

Ukraine energy major DTEK Group on 4 December signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Vestas to complete the construction of the largest wind farm in Eastern Europe, a project supported by the European Commission and the governments of Ukraine and Denmark. The installed capacity of the Tyligulska Wind Power Plant will be 500 MW, resulting from a total investment in excess of €650 million. The plant is located in the Mykolaiv region, 400 km from Kyiv and 85 km from the border with Moldova.

Assets that are dispersed over a wide area have been more resilient to attack during the war with Russia.

MIDA signs 10 GW of renewables agreements

Masdar and the Malaysian Investment Development Authority have put together an implementation roadmap to advance 10 GW of clean energy projects in Malaysia, and signed five agreements unlocking up to 8 GW of renewable energy projects. The roadmap includes ground mounted, rooftop and floating solar power plants, onshore wind farms and battery energy storage systems.

World’s largest floating solar plant

Masdar has signed agreements to collaborate with Indonesia’s state-owned utility company, PLN, to move ahead with major development plans for Southeast Asia’s largest floating solar power plant and explore green hydrogen opportunities. The partnership’s ambition is to add up to 500 MW to the existing 145 MWac Cirata floating solar PV plant, on the Cirata reservoir in West Java.

Oman plans for green H2 liquefaction

Oman’s ministry of Energy and Minerals, and Hydrogen Oman (Hydrom), have signed a Joint Study Agreement with Port of Amsterdam, Zenith Energy Terminals and GasLog, to collaborate on the development of a liquid hydrogen route to market for green hydrogen produced in Oman.

The partners intend to make the world’s first commercial scale liquid hydrogen corridor a reality. The Agreement entails conducting a detailed assessment of the requirements to develop an open-access hydrogen liquefaction, storage and export facility in Oman.

£11 bn investment to co-develop 3 GW of UK offshore wind

Masdar has acquired a 49 % stake in RWE’s 3GW Dogger Bank South offshore wind projects, which form one of the world’s largest planned offshore wind farms, as part of a £11 bn investment in the UK’s renewables sector.

OMV signs green H2 agreement

OMV has signed a non-binding Heads of Terms development agreement with Masdar to explore in partnership the production of green hydrogen for the decarbonisation of industrial processes in OMV’s refineries. The HoT forms the basis of a joint agreement to develop an industrial large scale electrolysis plant, powered by renewable energy.

Agreements for 1 GW wind and potential green H2 plant

Masdar has signed a joint development agreement with the Jordanian ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources to develop
a 1 GW wind project with a battery energy storage system (BESS), and a memorandum to explore the feasibility of producing green hydrogen from desalinated seawater.