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COP28: Energy, Industry and Just Transition

Matthew Wright, Royal Meteorological Society Science Engagement Fellow
5 December 2023

The theme of today (5 December) at COP28 is Energy, Industry and Just Transition. These themes remind us that industries must work together to achieve the energy transition needed to reach net zero and stay aligned with the Paris Agreement.

COP28 in Dubai is the latest United Nations Climate Change Conference, and will conclude the first global stocktake, building on the IPCC’s 6th Assessment Synthesis Report from March 2023 and discussing the technical dialogue prepared in September 2023 as part of the stocktake. The aim of the stocktake is to assess how closely the world is aligned with the Paris Agreement targets from 2015, where the gaps lie, and what countries can do to address them. COPs are an opportunity for governments to discuss and agree on policies to limit global warming, as well as active participation from businesses and civil society organisations.

Weather and climate science is key to securing a swift, effective, and just energy transition. We need to understand how the climate will change under different levels of greenhouse gas emissions to provide evidence and motivation for climate mitigation. Climate projections also help energy companies and other industries prepare and adapt to current and expected impacts of climate change.

This is most obvious in the renewable energy sector, where the amount of solar irradiation, wind speed and availability of water directly influence the energy available from solar, wind and hydro power respectively. But weather and climate also have a huge impact on energy demand, mostly via heat (requiring cooling) and cold (requiring heating). Extreme weather events also pose large risks to the energy system, with storms, flooding and heatwaves posing risks to energy generation assets, and transmission and distribution systems.

For example, one key issue is how countries will adapt to rising temperatures and a large increase in annual heating degree days. This necessitates more cooling, increasing energy demand in the summer months. In countries like the UK, it may require installation of air conditioning at scale, and in countries which already have air conditioning, it will put pressure on existing systems and push industries towards greater energy efficiency. Solving these problems requires collaboration across the weather and climate, energy and manufacturing communities, and they will certainly be on the agenda today and throughout the rest of COP28.

RMetS has been engaging closely with the energy community, through its Energy Special Interest Group, and most recently via its Energy Forum in October 2023. This Forum brought together weather and climate scientists with energy sector professionals to discuss the intersections of weather and climate with energy, and where efforts should be focused in the coming years.

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