Above photo: The first renewable energy plant in the Western Balkans to be built on the site of a former coal mine is Macedonia’s large-scale solar plant, Oslomej 1, seen on Oct. 18, 2022. WeBalkans EU.
A letter from 131 companies, including Volvo, Heineken and IKEA, urges world leaders to agree on a timeline to stop using fossil fuels at the COP28 United Nations Climate Change Conference next month in Dubai.
The letter was coordinated by nonprofit We Mean Business, which advocates for better global climate action.
“Our businesses are feeling the impacts and cost of increasing extreme weather events resulting from climate change… To decarbonise the global energy system, we need to ramp up clean energy as fast as we phase out the use and production of fossil fuels. This means turbocharging the renewables revolution, electrifying key sectors and massively improving efficiency — thereby creating the conditions for a rapid, well-managed and just transition away from fossil fuels,” the letter states, according to a press release from We Mean Business Coalition. “We call on all Parties attending COP28 to seek outcomes that will lay the groundwork to transform the global energy system towards a full phase-out of unabated fossil fuels and halve emissions this decade.”
The companies that signed the letter have almost $1 trillion in combined annual revenues. In the letter they expressed that the world’s richest economies must pledge to decarbonize completely by 2035 while helping developing countries give up fossil fuels by 2040, reported Reuters.
The letter’s signatories come from Asia, South America, Australia, Europe and North America, representing many different sectors, including health, power, road transportation, technology and consumer goods, the press release said. They include small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as multinational corporations.
“We know that phasing out fossil fuels is the only way forward if we are to limit global warming and keep people safe from climate catastrophe. But businesses cannot do this alone. Together with We Mean Business Coalition, Volvo Cars calls on all Parties attending COP28 to seek outcomes that will lay the groundwork to transform the global energy system towards a full phase-out of unabated fossil fuels,” said Anders Kärrberg, global head of sustainability at Volvo Cars, in the press release.
The world’s energy supply is made up of about 80 percent fossil fuels, but the International Energy Agency has said consumption will peak before 2030, then start to decline if countries follow through with their commitments and policies.
Experts say fossil fuel emissions globally must reach their peak by 2025 and be cut in half by 2030 in order to reach the goal of keeping planetary heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
“At a global level, we’ve made great strides in scaling-up clean energy solutions. Yet we’re not reversing the trend on rising global emissions — a battle we will keep losing until we address the underlying cause: the combustion of fossil fuels,” said We Mean Business Coalition CEO María Mendiluce in the press release. “More than 80 countries rallied behind a call to phase out all fossil fuels at COP27, but action is not happening fast enough. The climate and economic warnings are clear. We need immediate, decisive action on a just and equitable transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy system.”
The letter calls on fossil fuel producers, financial institutions and policymakers to collaborate with businesses to deliver secure and efficient decarbonization. Signatories also stated their support for tripling renewable energy capacity, urging a target of a minimum of 11,000 gigawatts globally at double the current efficiency rate by the end of the decade.
“In order to stay below the 1.5°C threshold and avoid catastrophic and irreversible damage, it is time to give up business as usual. Green energy is the most impactful solution for fighting global heating, and in our race against time, we need to build it now. We know that to lift this agenda, bold decisions and unprecedented collaborative action are required at all levels of society – within and between industries, businesses, and countries,” said Mads Nipper, CEO of Danish multinational energy company Ørsted, in the press release.
As part of an alignment of private and public “financial flows,” the letter’s signatories also encouraged governments to provide support to Global South nations in the diversification of their energy systems, as well as with developing economic pathways that are in line with the goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius. These include just transition planning through capacity building and the provision of finances that will not make unsustainable sovereign debt worse.
“We recognise the need to transition in a way that safeguards our future collective prosperity on a liveable planet. That means reducing our emissions, adopting clean solutions and reducing our use of fossil fuels to limit global heating in line with the Paris Agreement’s ultimate goal of 1.5C,” the letter said, as Business Green reported.
The letter also urged governments to make sure pricing signals are clear through a carbon price that “reflects the full costs of climate change,” and to repurpose and reform subsidies for fossil fuels toward renewable energy, energy efficiency and other actions that support an equitable and “people-centred” clean energy transition, according to the press release.
“Business and government must take decisive action to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. By working together, we can create equitable solutions for communities everywhere,” said Renée Morin, chief sustainability officer of eBay, in the press release.