How can major emitting countries work out concrete steps on cutting down their carbon emissions and act out solutions to take the 2°C limit seriously? This Tuesday on the 8 July a report was presented to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, for laying out strategies and steps to address UN’s Climate Change negotiations in the past two decades. It urges the world’s biggest economies to make changes to achieve deep decarbonisation, drawing a roadmap towards the transition to a low-carbon economy.
The Deep Decarbonisation Pathways Project (DDPP) is led by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI). It is jointly prepared by the members of the 15 DDPP Country Research Teams who represent 70 percent of global GHG emissions, namely Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, the UK and the USA.
The presented interim report specified 15 pathways which require a very significant transformation of energy systems. It pinpoints the three pillars for the deep decarbonization of energy systems: 1) Energy efficiency and conservation; 2) Low- carbon electricity; and 3) Fuel switching — electrification of end-uses or by a mix low-carbon electricity, sustainable biofuels and hydrogen. The report demonstrates detailed data on technologies transforming electricity supply, transport and shipping, and building codes in each country. However, the cost-effectiveness of these ‘carbon capture’ technologies was not explored.
For example, China is the country with the highest emission levels. It is undergoing economic and social development with a high level of urbanisation 53.7 percent in 2013. Urban population and industries have caused problems with pollution, both from greenhouse gasses (GHGs) that cause climate change and from other gasses and particles. If climate-clean technologies like non-fossil fuel energy and natural gas were substituted for coal from now until 2050, China energy-related carbon emissions would decrease by 34 percent, from 7.25 GtCO in 2010 to 4.77 GtCO in 2050 due to a decrease of both the primary energy per unit of GDP by 73 percent and of energy-related carbon emissions per unit of energy by 61 percent.
As stated on their website and the report, this initiative is the first global cooperative effort that aims to support UN climate talks which were denounced to be far-reaching and detached from the reality (read The Guardian report on the failed Copenhagen climate summit in 2009). The report is believed to build momentum in the lead up to UN climate change summit in New York this September and help countries to set bold targets as they go into next year’s climate negotiations.