Headline: RIFS Blog

The blog of the Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS) contains contributions from employees in all RIFS departments and covers a huge range of themes. In addition to discussing the latest research findings and events, the blog authors comment on political developments.

 

Drawing the ACE Card – Are We Betting on Climate Action?

At a recent UNFCCC-hosted technical meeting held in Bonn in preparation for the next UN Climate Conference, just two hours were reserved for negotiations on Article 12 of the Paris Agreement - Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE). RIFS researcher Deborah Lika asks: Are we really betting on climate action, or just shuffling the deck without ever dealing a hand?

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Methane: A Short-Lived Gas With Far-Reaching Effects

In March 2024, leading politicians and industry experts gathered in Geneva to tackle one of the most pressing challenges of our time: methane emissions. The participants discussed available methods to reduce methane emissions as called for under the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to cut global methane emissions by at least 30 percent by 2030 compared to 2020 levels. In this blog post, we take a closer look at why methane emissions matter and how they could be reduced.

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COP28 in Dubai: Greenwashing or Genuine Ambitions?

The agreement reached at the recent COP28 conference has been hailed as the dawn of a new era in the transition to renewable energy. The Guardian newspaper concurred, headlining its story on the final agreement: COP28 landmark deal agreed to ‘transition away’ from fossil fuels. Simultaneously, critical voices from indigenous communities and environmental organizations have dismissed the event as "business as usual." The host country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), derives its prosperity mainly from fossil fuels and finite resources, and the UAE's presidency added another layer of complexity to the conference.

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Time is of the essence in the climate crisis – and so is the case for global justice and equity

We will not see quick transformations towards sustainable futures without the consideration of past and present inequalities and injustices. We can tackle the climate crisis much more efficiently and sustainably only if equity and justice are treated as top priorities by all countries at the negotiation table. While we acknowledge that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions to today’s complex and diverse challenges, and that the process begins from different starting points, a closer look at the negotiations of the COP26 and ongoing actions around climate change can help us identify locations and processes that promote injustices and inequalities in preparations for the COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

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Is Mitsubishi’s withdrawal from the Vinh Tan coal power plant a signal for Vietnam’s energy transition?

In late February 2021, Japanese trading company Mitsubishi Corporation decided to pull out of the Vinh Tan 3 coal-fired power plant project in Vietnam after facing considerable pressure from investors and activists over the company’s fossil fuel investments. This decision follows in the footsteps of HSBC’s withdrawal one year previously. Scheduled to go on-grid in 2024, the 2-gigawatt plant was expected to feature ultra-supercritical technology. This is the first time that Mitsubishi has pulled out of a coal development project. Work on Vinh Tan 3 will now continue under the aegis of China Southern Power Grid, which is also a major investor in the Vinh Tan 1 power plant. However, this outcome will not serve the interests of Vietnam in terms of job creation, air quality, and achieving climate targets.

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Less Panic, More Dynamic – Why Climate Protection Needs to be Framed Differently

Do you remember the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos? “I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act” – that was Greta Thunberg’s impassioned plea to the participants, and the rest of the world. Now, almost two years after her remarkable speech, the international community is celebrating the fifth birthday of the Paris Climate Agreement. On this anniversary, the focus has been firmly on the updates by individual state parties to their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). But there’s little to celebrate: only 21 of 197 states have submitted new or updated plans, excluding most of the major emitters. And concrete climate protection measures are few and far between.

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The Paris Agreement turns five: It’s high time we tackle the ocean and climate crises together

Five years have passed since the so-called ‘Paris Agreement’ was concluded at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) following years of deliberation between the member States. For the ocean, the Paris Agreement represents a turning point: previously issues relating to the ocean were side-lined in COP negotiations.

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Key Takeaways from COP24

The United Nations’ climate talks in Katowice, Poland this past December wrapped up with an agreement on the terms to finalize most of the Paris Rulebook and set the 2015 Paris Agreement into action. While the parties agreed on many important issues, the final text comes up short on several key fronts.

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