A group of over 130 companies, representing approximately $1 trillion in global revenue, announced the release of an open letter to governments attending the upcoming UN COP28 climate conference, urging them to set timelines for phasing out fossil fuel production and use, and to massively increase the global deployment of renewable energy capacity this decade.
The letter, coordinated by climate-focused nonprofit We Mean Business, was signed by companies including IKEA, Nestlé, Ørsted, Unilever and Volvo Cars, and said that the companies are already “feeling the impacts and cost of increasing extreme weather events resulting from climate change.”
While celebrating the rapid growth of clean energy solutions, the letter noted that emissions continue to rise globally, and pointed to the continued burning of fossil fuels as the primary factor causing climate change.
In a statement accompanying the letter, We Mean Business CEO María Mendiluce said:
“We have no choice but to be bold. Extreme weather is costing billions, and the human impact continues to grow. Every fraction of a degree of global heating matters. And every CO2 molecule matters, whether it comes from coal, oil or gas. We can no longer ignore the root cause of the climate emergency.”
Efforts to secure global commitments to phase out fossil fuels in prior UN climate conferences have failed, with last year’s COP27 agreement only calling for an “increase in low-emission” energy and renewables, and COP26 including a pledge to “phase down” unabated coal use and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.
In the letter, the companies call on head of state 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.” Unabated fossil fuels refer to those produced and used without interventions that substantially reduce emissions, such as capturing at least 90% of emissions from power plants.
To enable the phase out of fossil fuels, the companies highlight a need to significantly increase the production and use of clean energy, noting that “this means turbocharging the renewables revolution, electrifying key sectors and massively improving efficiency.”
Specifically, the companies urge governments to set 1.5°C-alignes targets and timelines for the phase-out of unabated fossil fuels supported by plans for a just transition for affected workers and communities, commit to 100% decarbonized power systems by 2035 for advanced economies and 2040 for other countries, support the Global South through financing and capacity-building in the energy transition, put a price on carbon “that reflects the full costs of climate change,” and to reform and repurpose fossil fuel subsidies toward energy efficiency. Specific outcomes targeted for COP28 include tripling renewable energy capacity and doubling the rate to energy efficiency deployment by 2030.
The companies also urge financial institutions to work with them and with policymakers to ensure the allocation of capital towards the acceleration of the energy transition, and call on fossil fuel producers to set science-based net zero targets and to publish transition plans.
The letter also highlights the economic opportunity presented by the energy transition, citing the IEA’s estimate that the “transition to net zero could boost global GDP by 4% by 2030.”
Ørsted CEO Mads Nipper, said:
“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.”