COP28 Renewable Energy Target- How Equitable is it?

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The 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has proposed a global target to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030. While this target appears promising, a comprehensive analysis reveals several critical aspects that demand attention and scrutiny.

This topic of “COP28 Renewable Energy Target- How Equitable is it?” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

The Target in Perspective

  • In 2021, global renewable energy capacity for electricity generation reached 3026 GW, comprising 39% of the total capacity.
  • Despite this, renewables contributed only 28% to total electricity generation.
  • Hydropower accounted for over half of renewable energy generation, with solar and wind contributing 36%.

Tripling Renewable Energy Capacity

  • The proposed target implies achieving approximately 9000 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030.
  • Solar and wind are expected to be the primary contributors.
  • Assuming a 25% capacity utilization factor, this translates to generating 13,000 TWh of electricity from renewables alone.


Regional Variations in Energy Needs

  • Global electricity demand varies significantly across countries and regions.
  • Developing countries, such as China and India, experience rapid electricity demand growth (annual rates of 6.6% and 6.3%, respectively), while the European Union (EU) and the United States have much slower growth or decline.
  • The EU and the U.S. need to phase out fossil fuels to meet the target, while India’s share is substantial.

Scenario Analysis

  • Without phasing out fossil fuel capacity, the U.S. requires only 26 GW of new renewable energy capacity to meet additional demand, contributing minimally to the global target.
  • A full phase-out of fossil fuels in the U.S. and the EU would require adding 1565 GW and 538 GW of renewable energy capacity, respectively, aligning with their fair share of the burden.

The Origin of the Target

  • The source of the COP28 renewable energy target lacks transparency.
  • It draws inspiration from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), specifically a report suggesting the need to triple global renewable power capacity by 2030.

Equity Concerns

  • IRENA’s analysis indicates that most non-renewable energy capacity growth is expected in developing regions, raising equity concerns.
  • Developing countries must also invest in non-renewable capacity for supply stability and viable storage options.
  • Building adequate national grids poses additional challenges, especially in terms of financing.

Lack of Domestic Targets

  • Prominent advocates of the global target, such as India, have set ambitious domestic goals.
  • However, countries like the United States and the EU lack absolute renewable energy targets domestically.
  • Their targets are often market-driven and not guaranteed by government intervention.

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Way Forward

To move towards achieving the COP28 renewable energy target, several steps should be considered:

  1. Equitable Commitments: Developed countries must set absolute and equitable renewable energy targets domestically, aligning with their responsibilities under the Paris Agreement.
  2. Balanced Growth: Focus on relative targets that are less dependent on demand growth matching expectations to reduce risks associated with absolute projections.
  3. Support and Financing: Developing countries should seek financial support to build national grids and infrastructure necessary for scaling up renewable energy capacity.


The COP28 renewable energy target presents an ambitious but complex goal. Regional disparities, equity concerns, transparency, and domestic commitments are key factors that need to be addressed. Moving forward requires a collective effort, with developed countries taking on a fair share of the burden to ensure a sustainable and equitable transition to renewable energy.

Practice Question for Mains

Assess the feasibility of achieving the COP28 renewable energy target while considering the financing and infrastructure challenges faced by developing countries. What role should international climate finance play in supporting these nations? (250 words)

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