Each COP since at least COP21 in Paris has claimed to be the "last-chance-to-save-the-world, one-minute-to-midnight" etc. Each one breaks up with tearful hugs all round - "we've done it!" - and those confected whoops of joy one becomes accustomed to in TV shows where, at key moments, someone at the front lofts a placard reading Everyone Whoop Now Like Demented Gibbons! and the live audience complies with distressing readiness.
Then we read The Text. The buyer's-remorse hangovers start almost immediately. What does it mean? FFS, you can drive a coach and horses through that! Well of course: what did you expect?
This time we have the following (my emphasis):
... calls on Parties to contribute to the following global efforts, in a nationally determined manner, taking into account the Paris Agreement and their different national circumstances, pathways and approaches: (a) Tripling renewable energy capacity globally and doubling the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030; (b) Accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power; (c) Accelerating efforts globally towards net zero emission energy systems, utilizing zero- and low-carbon fuels well before or by around mid-century; (d) Transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science; (e) Accelerating zero- and low-emission technologies, including, inter alia, renewables, nuclear, abatement and removal technologies such as carbon capture and utilization and storage, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors, and low-carbon hydrogen production; (f) Accelerating and substantially reducing non-carbon-dioxide emissions globally, including in particular methane emissions by 2030; (g) Accelerating the reduction of emissions from road transport on a range of pathways, including through development of infrastructure and rapid deployment of zero-and low-emission vehicles ...
One can have a bit of fun parsing all the UN-speak boilerplate guff (which lobby is being appeased with which empty form of words etc), but let's stay with the salient bits.
Tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030. This mostly means wind and solar. Setting aside the gross implausibility of this target; greenies, please note that wind & solar capacity is a very poor guide to wind & solar output of electricity. Average for solar: around 10% of nominal rated capacity: for wind, maybe 25%. Challenging. And that's before the system balancing issue is addressed, not to mention the grid issues (multiple).
Towards net zero emission energy systems. What are 'energy systems'? A vexed point - see below - and very relevant for ...
Transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems ... to achieve net zero by 2050. This was supposedly the Great Triumph: the first ever explicit mention at a COP of fossil fuels! Of course, many wanted Phase Out or even Phase-Down, in preference to Transition Away. Hard luck. Look around you - who was hosting? (and who'll be hosting next time ..?)
Nuclear / CCUS. Nuke is the big win for France; and CCUS for the oil industry. Many greens hate both with a vengeance. More tough luck. Look around you.
So - what are 'energy systems'? The obvious interpretation is power generation, plus heating. This former is the only sector where serious (albeit flawed) detailed work has gone into what Net Zero might actually mean. But of course it ain't enough for many. Here's a bleat from the Graun:
... the ambiguous term ‘energy systems’ in the agreement, and how it should be understood ... This ambiguous term is what enabled textual agreement between the 130 countries at Cop28 that wanted a phase-out of fossil fuels and the oil- and gas-producing states who didn’t. The former are absolutely clear that energy systems should be taken to include transport energy – they would not have signed it otherwise. The latter want you to believe it doesn’t... This is a battle for interpretation. It is vital that all supporters of climate action insist that Cop28 has called for the gradual transition to a non-fossil fuel future. Saying the opposite will be self-fulfilling.
The Graun correspondent's 'evidence' is a bit of background puff-wording he likes, that appeared on a UN website. Nothing direct or specific. My counter-suggestion would be that, particularly as to transportation, there's a completely separate and explicit little subsection on that sector [(g) above] which makes no such prescription; but only 'reduction of emissions from road transport' (not even air travel or shipping; and certainly not agriculture). So, no - transport is not in 'energy systems'. And there it is. Simples.
But the battle for interpretation will rage on. Bald men, comb ... COP28's 'text', unlike that of Paris 2015, is not a Treaty, it's entirely pour encourager. Onwards to COP 29 and, errr, Azerbaijan!