China’s current emissions reduction targets are not as strict as they need to be, US Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk said on Monday.

“I think every country needs to take a look at what they’re doing, especially in the implementation phase,” Turk told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick at the COP28 summit.

“I’ve been looking at the numbers for many, many years. I don’t think their NDC is as robust and ambitious as it needs to be. They’re doing a lot in electric vehicles and solar and wind power, but if you look at it like this, “If we also expand coal to the extent that they’re doing it, that’s not going to be good enough.”

“NDC” refers to “nationally determined contributions,” emissions reduction targets submitted by countries to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change every five years under a plan agreed at the landmark COP21 summit in Paris in 2015 become.

Climate Action Tracker, an independent scientific review project, currently rates China’s climate targets as “grossly inadequate” and those of the United States as “inadequate.”

Turk said that John Kerry, U.S. special presidential envoy for climate at the recent Sunnylands meeting on U.S.-China climate change, “reached out his hand for the Chinese to embrace each other and try to work together in areas where it makes sense.” “To work together.”

The US and China need to “increase our ambition because we are currently the two largest economies and the two largest emitters,” Turk added.

Companies need to “level up”

Regarding the presence of companies like Exxon at the COP, Turk told CNBC: “I think it’s significant. And I think everyone needs to be at the table, we all need to be part of the conversation. But we also have to ask each other difficult questions.

Turk pointed to an agreement announced Saturday that will address methane emissions in the U.S. oil and gas industry, building on a commitment from 150 countries on the issue.

Turk said reducing methane emissions from oil and gas was “the biggest no-brainer there is,” but it had taken too long to make progress.

Another example of a difficult issue that needs to be addressed, Turk said, is Scope 3 emissions – a measurement of direct and indirect emissions.

“For many oil and gas companies, their Scope 3 emissions are ten times higher than those of Scope 1 and Scope 2 combined. So we need to have a real conversation about Scope 3. What is the plan to reduce these Scope 3 emissions? And that, I think, is what is missing at the national and COP level and at the corporate level,” he said.

“I think companies have to really make an effort…You can’t just say, ‘Oh, we only offer one product. What people do with the product – they will burn the product, CO2 will be released.” Into the atmosphere, 63% of our emissions currently come from oil and gas. That’s a lot of emissions.”

Oil and gas companies are currently making “an awful lot of profit,” but only 1% of global clean energy spending comes from oil and gas companies, he said.

“So follow the money, where are they investing? And some companies invest, others don’t invest as much.”

The U.S. government hopes that stimulus, including the Inflation Reduction Act and the large subsidies it provides, will spur more investment in carbon capture, hydrogen, geothermal energy, offshore wind and “other areas where oil and gas companies could be enormously helpful.” “, he said. It is also important to “follow the money” to see where companies and influential business leaders are creating an unlevel playing field through lobbying, he added.

Science is science

Turk finally addressed recent controversial comments from COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber, who recently claimed there was “no science” behind fossil fuel phase-out targets.

“Science is science and numbers are numbers, right? And we’re already seeing the worst impacts of climate change we’ve ever seen, but it’s only going to get worse. Even if we pull ourselves together, we have a carbon budget that is limited. For now, we need to make the numbers add up to get to net zero by mid-century.”

“If people don’t recognize that, value that and have credible plans, including on Scope 3 emissions from the oil and gas sector, then that doesn’t really address these issues.”

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