EEMI Involved in COP 28 Proceedings in Dubai

January 22, 2024

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Key EEMI faculty members were involved in various aspects of the proceedings of the UNFCCC Conference of Parties event held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates during the period November 30-December 13, 2023 (COP 28).

Professor of Sustainability and International Affairs Bob Orttung (EEMI Director of European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies) led a GW delegation of students and faculty members to the COP 28 event. Part of the mission was to conduct a study of how U.S. and other companies present themselves in the climate change space in order to help make U.S. companies more competitive in the international market. During the event Anna Shah, an undergraduate student studying International Business, and Orttung interviewed the CEOs and other leaders of a variety of startup companies presenting their new technologies at COP. While the country-level negotiations are necessarily slow to achieve consensus among 200+ countries, small businesses can be innovative and agile in offering climate solutions that reduce emissions.

Dr. Orttung, who is just starting work on a new National Science Foundation grant examining green energy transitions, presented his research efforts around climate change. Reflecting on the controversy surrounding the fact that the COP 28 Presidency was held by the CEO of the Abu Dahbi National Oil Company and was held in a major oil producing country, he said “Obviously, it’s a little ironic to have a climate change conference in a Petro state, which depends heavily on selling oil and gas. But part of the ultimate solution might be trying to find a way to work with these companies that make their money now from selling fossil fuels. If they start to see themselves as energy companies, rather than oil companies, they may be able to contribute more to the solution. At the moment, though, it is more interesting to focus our research on the smaller companies that have an ability to move quickly.”

EEMI Director of Smart Grid Technologies Dr. Payman Dehghanian, also was a member of the GW delegation attending COP 28.

Dr. Salah Hassan, EEMI Director of Global Business Sustainability, delivered a keynote address during a leading panel session at COP28. His keynote, entitled “Strategies for Action on Green Investment Promotion,” emphasized the need to accelerate the promotion of sustainability initiatives and engage the private sector in ambitious climate action while advocating green economic opportunities. “Engaging the private sector is critical for building the spirit of partnership we aspire to embrace the needed change. Together, through public-private partnership, we can leverage and converge the collective purpose of achieving the climate action goals to have a more sustainable planet for future generations,” Professor Hassan said in his remarks. This panel was organized by the European Union in partnership and the League of Arab States (LAS) entitled “De-risking Investments in the Arab Region– From Vision to Action; which took place on December 4, 2023, in the Blue Zone of the COP 28 Dubai Expo. Participating on the panel with Dr. Hassan were senior Vice Presidents and directors from the LAS Sustainable Development and International Cooperation Division, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank Group (MIGA), and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development. This high-level panel achieved the following objectives: discussing investment requirements in the region at the domestic level to increase FDIs; agreeing on a mechanism to bring investors, banks, and governments together to discuss opportunities; and presenting the various tools encouraging investors, such as derisking investment and investment guarantees.

Interviewed by Bloomberg Law about EPA’s new Methane Rule in the context of the well- advertised pledge of major oil companies to cut methane emissions, EEMI Director for Climate Change Dr. Rachael Jonassen was quoted in the December 8, 2023 issue of Bloomberg Law in an article entitled “Popular EPA Methane Rule Comes with Cost, Monitoring Concerns.” The article stated that “(n)ot all companies will feel the expense of the rule equally, and it’s still ‘a heavy lift for companies to make such broad changes to capture and transport the climate superpollutant,’ according to Rachael Jonassen, director of the Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Management Program at George Washington University....It’s not uniformly, commercially viable” to tack on reduction technology, Jonassen said, adding that despite the potential setbacks, the rule is a ‘major advance’ that is ‘well overdue.’” (…- with-cost-monitoring-concerns).