COP28 Energy Day: Fossil fuel lobbyists, climate tech and reducing cooling emissions

A nearly 400% increase in fossil fuel lobbyists compared to COP27

As COP28’s Energy Day kicked off, the event was overshadowed by the release of a new analysis from the Kick Big Polluters Out coalition, revealing at least 2,456 fossil fuel lobbyists have been granted access to the summit in Dubai – more than all the delegates from the 10 most climate vulnerable nations combined (1,509).

In a year when global temperatures and greenhouse gas emissions broke multiple records, the number of fossil fuel lobbyists at COP28 also represents a nearly 400% increase on the number granted access to last year’s COP27, elevating calls from Global South countries, public officials and wider civil society to eject polluters from the talks.

Reacting to the news, the Climate Action Network posted on X that: “You don’t bring arsonists to a firefighting convention – or the climate talks for that matter – but that’s precisely what is happening here at #COP28.”

“Do you really think Shell of Chevron or ExxonMobil are sending lobbyists to passively observe these talks?” added Alexia Leclercq, co-founder of climate activist group Start:Empowerment. “To advance climate solutions for the benefit of communities who air and water they pollute? To put people and the planet over profit and their greedy dollars? Big polluters’ poisonous presence has bogged us down for years, keeping us from advancing the pathways needed to keep fossil fuels in the ground. They are the reason COP28 is clouded in a fog of climate denial, no climate reality.”

Energy pledges so far

Despite vocal protests around fossil fuels, officials at COP28 have agreed $5bn in pledges towards renewable energy so far, according to the conference’s climate action tracker.

While the headline pledges are positive, much more work – and “multidecade investments” will be needed for them to be achieved, said Tancrede Fulop, senior equity analyst at Morningstar: “On the first day of COP28, 110 countries pledged to triple the renewable energy capacity by 2030. This ambitious target looks out of reach to us given the obstacles like permitting delays and higher for longer construction costs. Likewise, while we see the ambitious goal of tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030 face hurdles, European utilities remain well-positioned for investment opportunities in developing renewable capacity. We also expect renewable investments to remain value accretive as the rise in power purchase agreement prices has offset rising interest rates and construction costs.

“Utilities like EDP, RWE, and SSE offer a favourable risk-reward profile, each presenting unique strengths in subsidiary discounts, complementary assets, and promising project pipelines. Utilities are the gatekeepers of decarbonisation; they are doing more than any sector to increase renewable energy, cut emissions, expand the energy grid and enable electric vehicles. This requires huge, multidecade investments that should drive earnings growth for European utilities.”


Energy Day also saw the announcement of the Oil and Gas Decarbonisation Charter, a global industry charter where signatories committed to reach net zero by 2050 and eliminate routine flaring by 2030. The charter was endorsed by 52 companies, representing 40% of global oil production.

Flaring – the practice of burning the ‘associated’ gas that accompanies oil production – is often associated with the release of methane, a gas that has 28 times greater global warming potential than carbon dioxide, according to the EU’s methane strategy. So, dovetailing with the Oil and Gas Decarbonisation Charter, COP28’s Global Methane Pledge announced over $1bn in new grant funding for methane action, more than triple current levels, alongside an expansion of the membership base, including Canada, Germany and Japan.

“The slate of actions and funding to address methane pollution that were unveiled at COP28 is encouraging and desperately needed,” said David Waskow, international climate director at the World Resources Institute.

“Finance pledges made in Dubai from governments, companies and philanthropies more than triple the amount of grant funding for projects focused on cutting methane in the oil and gas, waste and agriculture sectors, with the goal of mobilising billions more. This is major progress, though even more funds are necessary to take the aggressive actions necessary to rapidly rein in methane emissions.”

Climate Innovation Forum

Elsewhere at COP, the Climate Innovation Forum brought together leaders in the world’s technology industry for a series of talks exploring solutions to tackle the global climate crisis, including artificial intelligence, satellite technology, big data, clean energy, industrial decarbonisation, and low-carbon hydrogen among others.

During the event, both Google and Breakthrough Energy Catalyst revealed new projects aimed at accelerating the development of clean technologies. Project InnerSpace and Google, for example, announced GeoMap, a first-of-its-kind geothermal exploration tool, which is focused on expanding the use and adoption of geothermal energy worldwide.

Meanwhile, Breakthrough Energy Catalyst spotlighted its newly-announced projects that will accelerate the deployment of innovative clean energy technologies. These include Ørsted’s FlagshipONE, the largest e-Methanol project in Europe, Energy Dome’s Ottana CO2 Battery Project, a first-of-a-kind long duration energy storage project, and Infinium’s Project Roadrunner, a commercial-scale Power-to-Liquids eFuels facility.

“Developing and scaling the solutions necessary to support the global energy transition, at the speed required to meet our goals, will require unprecedented cross-sector collaboration,” Adnan Amin, CEO of COP28, said.

“It is an honour to bring together the best and the brightest in the technology world to rally around the shared objective of driving climate progress. We must ensure that the decisions made here at COP28 are translated into practical real-world action and technology will play a pivotal role in making sure that happens.”

Global Cooling Pledge

Passive cooling, higher energy efficiency standards and a faster phase down of climate-warming refrigerants could deliver a 60% reduction in emissions in the cooling sector, with rapid power grid decarbonisations reducing emissions by 96%, says a report released alongside COP28’s Global Cooling Pledge.

The Pledge, a joint initiative between the UAE and the Cool Coalition, saw over 60 countries sign up with commitments to reduce the climate impact of the cooling sector.

Climate change, urbanisation and population and income growth are increasing demand for cooling. Around 1.2bn people in Africa and Asia lack access to cooling services, putting lives at risk from extreme heat, reducing farmers’ incomes, driving food and loss waste and hindering universal vaccine access, according to the Cool Coalition.

“The cooling sector must grow to protect everyone from rising temperatures, maintain food quality and safety, keep vaccines stable and economies productive. But this growth must not come at the cost of the energy transition and more intense climate impacts,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Program.

“Countries and the cooling sector must act now to ensure low-carbon cooling growth. Fortunately, the solutions are available today. Getting energy efficient, sustainable cooling right offers an opportunity to cut global warming, improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people, and realise huge financial savings.”