Deep Decarbonization Pathways: Country Case Studies IV

Lessons for the Global Agreement on Climate Change at COP21 in Paris in 2015

I’d like to draw some conclusions from the results of the deep decarbonization pathways project. But also from the very process of the project for the official this time, international negotiations and the agreement to be reached in Paris at COP21 in December 2015. So what are these lessons?

Well in essence what the results and also the approach of the DDPP revealed is the critical importance of preparing these country-level deep Decarbonization pathways to 2050.

741These pathways and the discussion of their results, the discussion of their assumptions are essential tools for learning and problem-solving. This process is absolutely fundamental to developing a long-term vision for deep decarbonization and shaping the expectations of the different countries, the businesses, the investors about what are really the future development opportunities?

It really affords a unique opportunity to work together as we’ve done as part of the project. But we now hope this is going to become an issue for the real world. An opportunity to work together across countries to map out how the global 2-degree limits can be operationalized because we have it, but it needs to be made real and achieved at the country level.

More precisely it, it also highlights the need to introduce what I called long-term backcasting into the scope of the climate negotiations preparing COP21. Because as we have already pointed out, unfortunately the current focus of the negotiations is, is primarily and, and in fact almost exclusively on mitigation targets in the relatively short-term, maybe for the year 2030.

Some countries are even suggesting that the focus should be on 2025 emission reduction targets. Yet, as I hope we made clear through this lecture, if countries do not work with a longer-term time horizon in mind and, and backcast from this long-term target, they’re likely to adopt strategies that fall short of what is needed to stay below the 2-degree limit. So almost by its structure, by definition if you want, the current incremental approach will fail to consider the deep systemic changes that are needed and, and the key technologies that are still pre-commercial but that need to be developed to reach the long-term goal.

Surprisingly and, and to be frank, also quite shockingly, very few countries so far have developed such long-term deep decarbonization pathways which means that very few of them have looked seriously at what it means for them to stay within the 2-degree limit. Since Copenhagen, in 2009 and a year after that, Cancun in 2010, all the large emitting countries have adopted quantified targets to reduce their greenhouse gases emissions by the year 2020.

But these targets and I want to say that sometimes they have to be backed by concrete policy action plans, because it’s not always the case, but even more profoundly than that, these targets are collectively insufficient to put the world on a trajectory that would be consistent with the 2-degree limit.

In fact, most of the 2020 emission reduction targets that were adopted in, in Copenhagen in 2009 were framed as either incremental deviation from business-as-usual trends or rather small reductions in the carbon intensity of GD, or rather modest decrease in absolute emissions compared to a given base here most of the time in 1990. But by and large, these country targets were not even derived from an assessment of what is needed simply to stay within the 2-degree limit. So it should really not come as a surprise that their widely insufficient to limit global warming below 2-degrees Celsius, but if we want to succeed and to be frank, simply if we want to be internally consistent, if we want to have country targets that are consistent with the global goal, then we need to adopt a completely different approach to the climate negotiations on the run-up to Paris in December 2015.

742To conclude, I’d like to say that at least two new elements will need to be part of the global deal at COP21 in Paris. And they certainly do not cover the full scope of the agreement, in particular the need to provide adequate support, all different types of support, financial, technological and capacity building to the countries that need it to undertake the necessary mitigation and adaptation actions, in particular the poor and vulnerable countries. But I want to emphasize these two new dimensions as I think an essential component to the success of the global negotiations in Paris.

  1. First, we need a shared global commitment that each country will develop and, and make publicly available a deep decarbonization pathway to 2050 that is consistent with the 2-degree limit, but also with country and national circumstances. These pathways to 2050 as opposed to the targets by 2025 or 2030 do not necessarily have to be binding. I mean it’s not the main point of having them. They should be predicated on a shared commitment to the 2-degree limit, but also to all the aspects of the global cooperation that will be needed to achieve it in some countries, in particular the poor countries including the technology cooperation, financial support, the policy cooperation. But it’s really very important that every country has one and has one soon because it’s the only way to explore how you can make your economic growth, your development pathway consistent with our global objective of avoiding dangerous climate change. So that’s the first element, pathways to 2050 for each and every country.
  2. The second element is that we need an absolutely massive and, and sustained global public-private effort to develop, demonstrate and, and diffuse many new low carbon technologies which we discussed and are not yet technically mature or competitive but yet are absolutely key to the success of deep decarbonization strategies. They will need to be made available to all countries, so technology cooperation mechanisms, but also fund will have to be established to this purpose. But it’s also very important that businesses and governments, the national science funds for example commit to real money this time and serious action to develop these new technologies.

By the time we record this course, we have already published the interim 2014 report of the deep decarbonization pathways project. The report was received by the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. We launched the interim report at a press conference in the U.N. headquarters on July 8 of 2014.

We’ve also submitted the report to the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, who will be the president of the COP21 in Paris. And we have started to discuss about the project with many different people across the globe, in particular we have discussed the project in the context of what is called the Major Economies Forum.

So that’s a political forum gathering all the largest emitting countries. And we presented the results of the project to all the energy and climate ministers attending the meeting. We’re very encouraged by the support that we received so far and we’re clearly not there yet. It’s not yet the primary focus of the negotiations.

People want to understand I’d say a bit better what it really means, what it really implies and, and how it can be operationalized in the context of the agreement to be reached in Paris in 2015. But there is clearly a momentum around this new approach. Much more effort is still needed and we count on you.

We count on your creativity to develop your own country deep decarbonization pathway, looking forward to receive them. And we count also on your commitment to put pressure on the political negotiation process to make COP21 in Paris a real success.

Pedro Pereira Leite

Researcher and professor. He had his PhD. on museology in 2011, with the title “Muss-amb-ike Homeland: The commitment on musicological process”, that was published in 2011. In 2012 he finishes a Post-PhD Research on "Biographical Glances: The intersubjectivity poetry on museology, at Lusófona University (Lisbon). Presently he is working in his Post PhD. Research about: “Global Heritages" with the aims to build a network on local cognizance and memory manager has a tool to build the will of action in 3 different communities, linked by past communed heritages.” He works at CES. He participates on different Research network, presented papers in national and international conferences, and had published books on research subjects.

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