There can be little doubt that it will take a concerted effort by all nations to limit the warming of the earth’s temperature to below 2 Degrees Celsius. There is an approach though that can help nations get there, it’s called the Deep Decarbonization Pathway Project (DDPP). The need for such plans is detailed in a paper by Chris Bataille and five other experts.
Canada has Deep Decarbonization Pathway (DDP) and so do 15 other nations. The point is that using standardized methodology to measure and communicate the impact of emissions reduction across an economy, including society, countries can achieve significant emissions reduction - nearly 60% lower than 2010 emission annually by 2050. (You can read more about Canada’s DDP in Canadian Green Tech’s interview with Dave Sawyer HERE.)
The Bataille et al. paper, The Need for National Deep Decarbonization Pathways for Effective Climate Policy, argues that DDPs are necessary to help national governments align political consensus on the need to adopt stringent climate policies but also enlighten society and industry on the benefits of such actions.
Below is the conclusion of the 20-page paper.
A key feature of the DDPP approach to DDPs is that it combines a rigorous and transparent accounting framework that is common across the country teams with scenarios that are developed autonomously by the teams (the dashboard mentioned earlier). Making the deep decarbonization transition explicit under this framework has major benefits for climate policy discussion and negotiations.
First, DDPs fill a gap in the climate policy dialogue by providing a more concrete understanding of what is required for countries to reduce emissions consistent with the 2° C limit. DDPs provide an explicit plan for deep decarbonization actions by sector and over time, as a condition to stay within the carbon budgets. The operational lifetimes of much of the infrastructure and equipment that drive CO2 emissions – power plants, buildings, industrial boilers, heavy-duty vehicles – are long compared with the time remaining between now and 2050 (DDPP, 2015; p.11). DDPs support current policy and investment decisions by making the long-term emissions consequences of these decisions explicit. DDPs can help to avoid ‘dead end’ investments that lead to incremental emissions reductions in the short term, but are not compatible with deep decarbonization in the long term.
“Second, DDPs and the process of producing them allow policy makers and the public to concretely envision the path to decarbonization and to catalyze a mutual learning process, structured around a positive vision. They make the multidecadal transition tangible, and clarify what policies and markets must accomplish over that time. Experiences with outreach to decision makers in politics, industry and civil society in the countries for which DDPs were produced have shown that the emphasis on technological possibilities makes for a forward-looking discussion of options that encourages stakeholders to focus on the opportunities inherent in technological change and transformation of existing systems.
Third,DDPs can provide a framework to coordinate policy formation and investment across jurisdictions, sectors and levels of government. By providing a transparent and concrete understanding of what a low-carbon transition entails – scope and timing of infrastructure changes, technology options, investment requirements, RD&D needs and market potential – DDPs can help align public and private sector interests and expectations.
Fourth, DDPs provide a framework for understanding how deep decarbonization can work in harmony with other sustainable development priorities. Scenarios are defined in the context of socio-economic pathways that are compatible with development and prosperity. Having DDPs as a public point of reference can help countries ensure that the energy transformation and other decarbonization measures (e.g. land use) also support long-term goals such as energy access, employment opportunities, environmental protection and public health.
Fifth, DDPs could increase trust in the international climate policy process. DDPs represent a transparent approach to understanding the long-term policy challenges, technology needs and cost structures of deep decarbonization in different countries. This could do much to change the tenor of the international climate discourse, and place greater focus on opportunity-seeking and collective problem-solving. Much of the analysis informing past negotiations has been of a ‘black box’ nature. DDPs, in contrast, are about putting ‘cards on the table,’ making long-term national aspirations and the underlying assumptions that inform them clear to other countries. An open approach of this kind can help to identify areas for policy cooperation, joint technology RD&D, market development and transformation, trade and mutual assistance.
Finally, undertaking national DDP exercises will be essential for increasing the ambition of future national commitments to reduce their GHG emissions. By describing the full extent of the transformation required over a longer time frame, DDPs provide a context for understanding the ambition of current INDCs focused on 2025 and 2030, and the further measures that deep decarbonization will entail.
To conclude, the sixteen national analyses in the DDPP have demonstrated how deep decarbonization is technically and financial possible in a set of countries that represent 74% of global energy system emissions, based on an innovative approach to the 2° C limit. By combining technical feasibility and economic viability the results of the DDPP have the potential to cut the Gordian knot of burden sharing that has bedevilled climate negotiations, while offering an approach to deep decarbonization that complements the INDCs and directly supports the national discussions amongst policymakers and stakeholders that are necessary to implement the Paris Agreement.
Authors are: Chris Bataille, Henri Waisman, and Michel Colombeir from The Institute For Sustainable Development and International Relations; Laura Segafredo and Jim Williams from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network; and Frank Jotzo from the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University.