“Unnecessary bureaucracy” in G20 countries is stopping companies from adopting more renewable energy and damaging wider goals to triple renewables, according to a new report released at COP28.
Rules in some areas of South Korea that stop solar facilities from being within sometimes up to a kilometre of residential areas and roads was one example of the red tape hobbling the energy transition criticised by the Climate Group’s RE100 initiative.
RE100 works with over 400 companies with a combined electricity demand larger than France committed to hitting net zero.
In its report launched this week, Climate Group said that its members are investing billions of dollars to achieve that goal – but “policy and regulatory barriers” are stopping them from investing in renewables in many markets.
“This has knock-on effects on the phase out of fossil fuels,” said Climate Group, including the pledge widely adopted at COP28 in Dubai to triple global renewables capacity by 2030.
The report, which focuses on Argentina, China, Japan, Indonesia, India, Mexico, South Korea and South Africa, sets out how countries can break down barriers and seize the opportunities of the energy transition.
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“Renewables are the gold rush of the 21st century, but many businesses, states, regions, and countries are still missing out, said Sam Kimmins, director of energy at Climate Group.
“The age of cheap fossil fuels is over, and it’s time for governments to take simple steps to open their markets to billions of dollars in corporate investment in cheap, clean renewable electricity.”
ADNOC on the naughty step, IKEA praised
Some corporates may be doing their best to reach net zero, but lobbying monitor group InfluenceMap said that of those attending COP28 less than 10% have policies aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
Among the worst offenders the group claims are Russia’s Gazprom, ExxonMobil and – embarrassingly for COP28 hosts the United Arab Emirates – its state-owned oil company ADNOC.
ADNOC CEO Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber is, controversially, the president of this year’s climate summit. He has come under fire this week for claiming there is “no science” to show that phasing out fossil fuels is necessary to limit global warming, and allegedly planning to use the climate summit to strike oil deals.
European oil and gas majors Shell, Equinor and TotalEnergies are also “advocating against science-based policy but with more nuanced positions,” said InfluenceMap.
In the climate policy good books meanwhile are IKEA, Iberdrola, and Unilever.
The UAE’s state-owned renewables giant Masdar, of which Al-Jaber is chairman, has continued its flurry of dealmaking at COP28 by signing a non-binding development agreement with OMV to explore the production of green hydrogen for the Austrian oil and gas company’s refineries.
The joint agreement is to develop an industrial large-scale electrolysis plant that will be powered by renewable energy, with a final investment decision to be taken on the project next year.
Azerbaijan is meanwhile being tipped to host COP29 next year, according to a report by Reuters, after Russia and long-time foe Armenia have reportedly given it the green light.
The host next year is due to be an eastern European state but Russia is vetoing all EU nations, severely limiting options, while Armenia and Azerbaijan were previously said to be vetoing each other, although an impasse may now have been reached.
It had been reportedly earlier in the week that the deadlock could, bizarrely, force Al-Jaber to retain the presidency for a COP29 event hosted in the German town of Bonn. Environmental campaigners and perhaps even Al-Jaber himself will be pleased that no longer looks to be the case.