As COP28 quickly approaches in Dubai from 30 November to 13 December, we asked one of our Associates who has been intimately involved in progressing initiatives between COPs, to give us an update and expectations on going into events this year.
Dr Amr Abdel-Aziz, Chairman of Cairo-based Integral Consult – part of the global Inogen Alliance of environmental consulting firms, played an essential role at COP27, as a senior advisor to the COP27 presidency on Mitigation and Transparency. Serving as a negotiator to the series of Climate Change COP events since COP21 (2015), where the Paris Agreement was adopted, Dr Abdel-Aziz provided the Alliance with exclusive insight into landmark developments and prospects this year.
Question: You were selected at COP27 to lead negotiations for the Mitigation Work Program Development, can you give an update between COPs on this progress and expectations going into COP28?
We adopted the Sharm el-Sheikh Mitigation Ambition and Implementation work program in Sharm. This was a major achievement of COP 27 as it is essential that parties discuss and find opportunities to increase ambition and implementation in this critical decade. I was honored to be selected as one of the co-chairs for this work program for 2023 and 2024 together with my co-chair from France. In this work program, we have to conduct two global dialogues to discuss actionable solutions and opportunities, and barriers and challenges on specific thematic areas. These dialogues aim to accelerate the energy transition to accelerate the ambitions or implement more mitigation actions prior to 2030 so that we can achieve 1.5 degrees. What we selected this year from myself and my co-chair, was the topic of accelerating just energy transition based on the submissions from the parties. We managed to conduct two dialogues. The first dialogue took place in June, and we discussed four subtopics under the main topic. The first one is renewable energy; the second topic was on storage, battery storage, and grid; the third one was energy efficiency; and the fourth was carbon capture and storage/utilization. So, we held a global dialogue among parties where they discussed what are the opportunities in these four subtopics, what are the actionable solutions, and what are the barriers and challenges. We issued the report in September, summarizing the discussions that took place and highlighting the opportunities and challenges under these subtopics and how can we find solutions to such challenges to move countries towards an effective just energy transition.
The second dialogue took place in Abu Dhabi, and it was focused mainly on accelerating energy transition in the transport sector. And we had also four subtopics. One was on model shift and collective modes of transport and non-motorized transport, like shifting to cycling or bikes or model shifting also from private vehicles usage to buses or public transport. The second topic was on energy efficiency in the transport sector and resource efficiency as well, like the design of vehicles with less weight, which consumes less energy or less fuel. The third topic was on alternative fuels, like hydrogen or e-synthetic fuels and low-emission fuels such as CNG, which all reduce emissions. And then we had the final and most important topic was on electrification of vehicles. Again, the parties discussed what are the opportunities, and the actionable solutions in the transport sector to be able to learn from each other, what are the case studies, and the successful experiences, which would enable them to learn from each other and implement mitigation actions.
We also held 2 investment focused events, one on the margin of the first global dialogue in Bonn while the other was on the margins of the second dialogue in Dubai. During such events, countries presented successful case studies on how they structured actual projects on the ground, which is helping them achieve part of their energy transition. In addition, we created a pitch-hub for countries to present projects which are seeking finance in the presence of financiers from multilateral development banks and the private sector.
Question: Since you have served as a negotiator to the series of Climate Change COP events since COP21 (2015), where the Paris Agreement was adopted, what are some of the major shifts you have seen take place over the years?
I've been participating since COP 21 when the adoption of the Paris Agreement took place. I think we have experienced a lot of change since Paris. The first thing that comes to my mind is the issue of loss and damage during Paris. It was a very sensitive issue that developed countries’ positions were always not to get into the funding issue related to loss and damage because it can create legal liability for developed countries. But over the years until COP 27 in Egypt, we have seen this position change little by little. And it was really in Glasgow that developing countries were pushing hard for something on loss and damage, and the maximum that they could get is a dialogue on loss and damage. But when the incident of flash floods happened in Pakistan, there was a strong unity between developing countries and there were calls even in the media related to the need to consider loss and damage more seriously. Parties and NGOs started calling for including a separate agenda item on loss and damage. Egypt managed this issue with its long diplomacy experience until it was included on the agenda in COP 27. We have seen the historical agreement on the loss and damage funding arrangements, including a fund. This was a historical moment, and that was one of the major outcomes that we have seen coming out of the COP 27 in Egypt.
We have seen, of course, throughout the years that we are not on track to achieving the mitigation targets. And in Glasgow, we have seen calls by the UK presidency to keep the 1.5 degrees alive. So, this shifted, of course, the negotiations. It also created a lot of pressure on countries to do more on the mitigation front. So even calls now from some parties and some groups to have sectoral global targets related to mitigation, which is facing resistance from developing countries. There has also been a shift in the mitigation, trying to push parties to do more because we are not on track with the adaptation. In the Paris Agreement, there was no clear goal defined for adaptation. Contrary to mitigation, we have the two degrees and then we are now on the 1.5 degrees target for mitigation. So, we have seen also pressure from developing countries to try to define a global goal for adaptation. This led to the creation of the Glasgow Sharm el-Sheikh work program on the global goal of adaptation, which we should see landing in Dubai in COP 28. So, this is also a major change.
Another issue, that was created in the Paris Agreement, is the definition of a new quantified global goal on finance. We used to have the goal of one hundred billion, which was defined in 2009 in Copenhagen, but the Paris Agreement called for the definition of a new quantified collective goal. There are negotiations started in Katowice for this collective goal, and it should be defined in 2024 in COP 29 after Dubai. So of course, finance is still the major problem in the view of developing countries because even the one-hundred-billion goal has not been achieved until now and a lot more is needed for the implementation of the developing countries NDCs and climate action. The requirements to implement the NDCs are in the scale of trillions. The estimates are between 4 to 6 trillion US dollars per year needed to achieve the 2030 targets of developing countries. So of course, we need a lot of movement on finance because this is the major obstacle to achieve the Paris Agreement goals.
Question: Did the Paris Agreement have any impacts on businesses and their practices?
The Paris Agreement had a lot of impact on businesses, which we are seeing these days Many businesses are starting to set voluntary targets to achieve net zero by 2050. And this creates, of course, a lot of opportunities in the market for technology development, even consulting business because these companies or these facilities which announced voluntarily to achieve net zero by 2050, need to have a strategy to do that, they need to have a plan. So, they need to develop their decarbonization strategy and utilize new technologies to switch their practices or their current practice of, for example switching to renewable energy electricity sources instead of using fossil fuels.
We have seen in the past decade the Paris Agreement has had an impact on businesses and their voluntary contribution and announcements. It also creates a lot of movements in the carbon markets and the offsetting markets because many of these companies, cannot achieve net zero by implementing practices in their premises or their operations. So, they have to go for offsets or carbon credits purchasing. This also creates a lot of opportunities in the carbon market and implementing mitigation projects outside of these businesses, which they can use as offsets.
Thank you to Amr for his time for a quick interview ahead of COP28 and all the work with the program in between COPs to make progress on these global goals. We anticipate more updates and progress coming out of this COP, watch our page for more to come!
Inogen Alliance side event is organized by Sustainera with Ilkin Haji, with speakers from Integral including Amr Abdel-Aziz, Tonkin+Taylor with Brett Ogilvie, and Antea Brasil with Hilton Lucio.
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