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COP28 Stocktake Issue #2

Examining the Robustness of Major COP28 Climate Pledges

Amidst the flurry of announcements at COP28, a critical eye is required to gauge the depth and potential impact of major pledges on fossil fuel phase-out and renewable energy deployment. 

While over 100 countries signed onto tripling renewables and doubling energy efficiency, absentees remain, like major producers China and India. For civil society groups, success depends on translating the pledge into the final COP28 outcome alongside comprehensive policies and support for an equitable transition.

Despite 35 OECD and EU nations now joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance, curbing emissions from oil and gas remains imperative given the outsized role of the US in this sector. The US recently joined the alliance after years of civil society campaigns that catalyzed coal phase-out momentum globally. 

Meanwhile the COP28-launched Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter saw majors commit to reducing methane and flaring, not absolute emissions. Groups argue this ignores the bulk of emissions and fossil fuel phase-out is essential.

Yesterday at the COP28 World Climate Action Summit, Hong Kong's Secretary for the Environment and Ecology, Mr. Tse Chin-wan, reiterated Hong Kong's climate action goals under the Climate Action Plan 2050. The Secretary emphasised plans to import zero-carbon energy from mainland China but no longer mentioned local offshore wind power projects. Without elaborating on the makeup of this purported mainland zero-carbon energy, it appears Hong Kong's 2035 renewable energy target of 7.5-10% is destined to fail, running counter to global trends.

In summary, COP28 has spawned major renewable energy and coal phase-out pledges demonstrating shifting dynamics. But their robustness depends on key emitters also joining, translating commitments into policy, and extending efforts to constrain oil and gas. With climate groups applying critical pressure, COP28 could mark a step toward comprehensive fossil fuel drawdown. Yet pledges alone are insufficient without equitable policies and support to make the energy transition a reality.

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