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Geology Plays Crucial Role in Light of UAE Consensus

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The European Federation of Geologists (EFG), along with the Italian National Council of Geologists (CNG), advocated for the indispensable role of geosciences in addressing global climate challenges at the recently concluded COP28 in Dubai.

As COP28 concluded, on December 13, 2023, with the historic UAE Consensus that makes an unprecedented reference to transitioning away from all fossil fuels and foresees a global goal to triple renewables and double energy efficiency, the role geologists play in climate action is ever more crucial. EFG, alongside its Italian member, the CNG, prominently represented the geoscience profession at the Conference of the Parties (COP).

Geologists, through their study of climate change impacts on natural hazards like landslides, coastal erosion, earthquakes, and sea-level rise, play a pivotal role in addressing some of the most pressing issues in society. These also encompass the access to renewable energy sources, mineral supply and water management. Geologists are instrumental in delivering most of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ensuring resilience to environmental change or geological hazards for people, jobs, and infrastructure.

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Lack of Awareness about Geology at COP28

Despite the critical role of geology for society, the presence of geological topics at COP28 was dispersed and offered limited opportunities for interaction. For instance, conversations on vital issues like critical raw materials for the energy transition were underrepresented, and discussions on hydrogen and geothermal energy lacked interlinkages.

Surprisingly, a large number of COP participants lacked awareness of the role of geology in the energy transition. As EFG President David Govoni underlined, “this lack of understanding hampers the effectiveness of overall climate strategies as geologists play a crucial role in the early stages of the energy supply chain.”

Concerning the key role of geology within the energy transition, CNG President Arcangelo Francesco Violo said “there is an urgent need to focus on new renewable energy sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent by 2030 and 60 percent by 2035, so that the net zero 2050 goal can be realised. Geothermal energy, as a renewable and clean resource,” Violo continued, “can and must serve that purpose”.

EFG and CNG are therefore calling for a stronger focus on raw materials, underground storage of CO2, deep geothermal sources, and land use planning.

Professional Geologists as Catalysts for Climate Action

High professional and ethical standards in the application of geology have the potential to expedite change in climate action in the short-term and can significantly support the objectives outlined in the UAE Consensus. EFG and CNG accordingly call for more support in training and recruiting the workforce needed for the energy transition, while educating the next generation of geologists to avoid a future skill force gap.

International certifications such as the European Geologist professional title, which is conferred by EFG, offer a valuable tool for the accreditation of professional quality, facilitating the international mobility of geoscience professionals to balance workforce shortages. In this context, the European Federation of Geologists and its national association members can act as transversal bodies through the active involvement of geoscience professionals working in academia, industry, public agencies, and governments.

Call to Action for COP29

To pave the way for an increased awareness of geological topics at upcoming Conferences of the Parties, EFG and CNG jointly call for a dedicated Critical Raw Materials (CRM) Day at COP29 in Azerbaijan in 2024, urging the support of the European Union (EU) and non-member states. In addition, EFG and CNG advocate for the establishment of a CRM pavilion spanning the entire COP timeline, in collaboration with all partner organisations.

 

 

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