Exclusive-EU, US, COP28 hosts rally support for global deal to triple renewable energy – documents

By Kate Abnett and Valerie Volcovici

(Reuters) – The European Union, United States and the United Arab Emirates’ COP28 climate summit hosts are rallying other governments to join a global deal to triple renewable energy this decade at the upcoming summit, documents shared with Reuters showed.

The countries are working to recruit others to sign the pledge ahead of this year’s annual U.N climate negotiations, which take place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12 in Dubai, with a likely launch event at a gathering of world leaders at the start of the summit, a U.S. State Department spokesperson told Reuters.

In a draft letter being sent to other governments, the countries said tripling the world’s renewable energy capacity – to have 11,000 gigawatts installed by 2030 – is the most important thing they can do to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid its most disastrous impacts.

“We have the solutions at hand, and we have already made huge strides in expanding the global renewable energy capacity and becoming more energy efficient,” said the letter, seen by Reuters.

It was signed by the United Arab Emirates’ Presidency of the COP28 summit, the European Commission, the United States, Barbados, Kenya, Chile, Micronesia, the International Energy Agency and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

A draft of the pledge itself, seen by Reuters, would also commit to double the world’s annual rate of improving energy efficiency to 4% per year until 2030.

The letter said the green goals should be a “global” effort. But to become part of the formal outcome of the U.N. COP28 talks, they must pass the tough political hurdle of winning unanimous approval from the nearly 200 nations represented in U.N. climate negotiations.

While most major economies are already on board with the renewables goal, after the Group of 20 – which includes China and India – backed it last month, some are hesitant to tether that target to a promise to shift away from CO2-emitting fossil fuels.

The draft says the deployment of renewables must be accompanied in this decade by “the phase down of unabated coal power,” including ending the financing of new coal-fired power plants.

The draft pledge would commit governments to adopt more ambitious policies to scale up renewable energy and develop financing schemes to reduce the high cost of capital that has stymied renewable energy projects in developing nations.

Despite having plentiful solar energy resources, Africa received only 2% of global investments in renewable energy over the last two decades, IRENA has said.

A European Commission spokesperson said the targets were part of the EU’s priorities for COP28 and that it was seeking “the widest possible support”.

The U.S. State Department spokesperson told Reuters it was encouraging other countries to back the targets, “while also recognizing that more steps beyond these – like stopping new unabated coal in the power sector – are needed”.

Saudi Arabia, Russia and other fossil fuel-reliant economies have opposed the idea of a fossil fuel phase-out.

Scientists say both actions – rapidly expanding clean energy and quickly reducing the burning of CO2-emitting fossil fuels – are vital if the world is to avert more severe climate change.

(Reporting by Kate Abnett in Brussels and Valerie Volcovici in Washington; Editing by Christina Fincher)