Landmark blueprint for avoiding climate disruption and securing a profitable, low carbon world issued to UN
- 10 July 2014
LONDON: A first-of-its-kind report listing practical steps for the biggest polluting countries to take in order to curb dangerous climate change and drive profitable, low carbon development, has been issued to the UN ahead of September’s Climate Summit.
Pathways to Deep Decarbonization maps concrete ways 15 of the world’s biggest countries – who together are responsible for 70% of global emissions – can better handle energy use to allow economic growth that is aligned with the commonly accepted safe global warming rise limit of 2 degrees Celsius.
Produced for UN Secretary-General Ben Ki-moon ahead of the UN Climate Summit, the report comes from the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, which is contributed to by 30 expert organizations including the International Energy Agency and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development. Additional country chapters will be released in the next few weeks, with the complete report published at the Summit in September, and full economic and policy analyses published in spring 2015.
Speaking at the report launch at the UN headquarters, Ban Ki-moon said: “The world needs to see what countries are doing to cut greenhouse gas emissions. By seeing what is possible, others can take inspiration and follow suit. The report we are launching today shows how we can achieve deep decarbonization.”
Responding to the 2014 IPCC’s report that warned the planet is on a path to a temperature rise of 4 degrees Celcius, this new analysis argues staying safely within a 2C rise is viable, but only if industrialized countries embrace the three clear tracks set out by its authors.
Ban Ki-moon further remarked: “Deep decarbonization is feasible, but it requires global commitment to advancing key low-carbon energy technologies. The Deep Decarbonization Pathway Project emphasizes three key pillars: energy efficiency, low-carbon electricity and fuel switching. I expect countries to adopt different combinations according to their needs, resources and priorities. But all countries need to embark on the same journey.”
The three pillars to be used by all 15 countries – Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, the UK, and the USA – as a base for ‘deep decarbonization’ are summarized as:
- Greatly increased energy efficiency in all energy using sectors.
- Decarbonization of electricity systems by adopting and scaling up renewable energy.
- Reduction of fossil fuel use in transport, heating and industry.
Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University's Earth Institute and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which compiled the report, stressed the importance of low carbon energy growth: “The world has committed to limit warming to below 2 degrees C, but it has not committed to the practical ways to achieve that goal. This report is all about the practicalities. Success will be tough – the needed transformation is enormous – but is feasible, and is needed to keep the world safe for us and for future generations. One key message is to invest in developing the low-carbon technologies that can make a difference.”
Wide-scale renewable energy acceptance is proven to make strong economic sense, with a separate report from CDP which outlines the low carbon case for business, showing average return on investment for companies' carbon reduction and energy efficiency activities tops an impressive 33%, with payback taking just three years.
International Energy Agency chief economist, Fatih Birol, affirmed how urgently the findings of the unprecedented report should be taken on board: “The issue is to convince the world that the future is as important as the present. Paris 2015 may well be our last hope.”
The UN Climate Summit, which is seen as a stepping stone to Paris, takes place during Climate Week NYC 2014. As the collaborative space for all related events in support of the Summit and by providing an international platform for government, business and civil society to work together on low carbon solutions, Climate Week NYC will show the world there are clear opportunities and many benefits in joining the global ‘clean revolution’.
Together, the two summits will have the potential to catapult climate change back to the top of the world agenda, mobilizing leaders to act now. Find out how you can be part of it.
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By Clare Saxon