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National contributions entry point for low-carbon transformation: Paris needs to build to below 2°C goal

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Submitted national contributions to the new global climate agreement do not put the world on track to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Implied is an acceleration and consolidation of action against climate change in major economies. Moreover, they serve as an entry point for the low-carbon transformation, if the Paris Agreement includes a mechanism to strengthen and broaden policy commitments by 2020 at the latest.

This is shown by a report published today by a consortium of 14 research institutes. The scientists and economists provide a detailed analysis of the energy sector transformations required to implement the intended nationally determined contributions (so called INDCs), in major economies and at the global level in aggregate, and their potential for keeping the below 2 degrees goal within reach.

The results show:

– What a deal in Paris will actually mean in practical terms through implementation of the plans. The report is global in focus, with particular emphasis on: the EU, US, China, India, Brazil, Japan and all INDCs up until India’s.

– How we will need to raise ambition regularly, starting soon after 2015, to keep the 2°C target in reach.

– Without this “ratcheting up”, getting back to a 2°C pathway post-2030 would also imply a sudden collapse of investments in fossil generation (hence massive stranded assets)and require a dramatic surge of investment in renewables.

– The need for a long-term goal in the Paris agreement to foster the development of national, long-term deep decarbonisation pathways by 2018.

“As of October 19, the 123 INDCs, covering 150 countries, submitted to the UNFCCC represent 86% of global GHG emissions in 2012. Such wide coverage, with countries from all continents, levels of development and historic positions in the climate negotiations is in itself a major step forward for climate action and a signal of commitment to the Paris negotiations”, says Teresa Ribera, project leader and Director of the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI).

“The criteria for judging INDCs is their capacity to unleash the deep decarbonisation of the energy sector by 2050. This report’s analysis shows that this transformation is emerging but not fast or deep enough. Future policies and targets must be defined to be coherent with deep decarbonisation by 2050, informed by concrete pathways to get there.”

The present analysis of INDCs was funded by the European Commission and conducted by leading research teams from Brazil, China, Japan, India, the United States and the European Union. By investigating the concrete implications of INDCs for the low-carbon transformation by and beyond 2030, from energy systems, buildings to transport and industry, it complements the upcoming cutting-edge assessments by UNFCCC and UNEP of the impact of INDCs on global emissions and the global temperature goal.

“While the climate pledges lay the foundation for a faster transition to a low-carbon economy worldwide, more is needed to bolster the commitment to the below 2 degrees goal”, explains Elmar Kriegler of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “The Paris Agreement should set a clear timeline for ramping up action. Mechanisms for strengthening INDCs by 2020 would send the required signal to investors in the energy sector and beyond, in particular through the announcement of further economy-wide climate policies.”

In the run-up to COP21, the report offers six key cross-cutting messages:

– The report shows that INDCs imply an acceleration and consolidation of action against climate change in major economies around the world.

– This is particularly true in the electricity sector, where INDCs will further drive the transition towards renewables and other low-emissions forms of electricity production. In the six major economies assessed individually, carbon dioxide emissions per unit of electricity production falls by about 40% between 2010 and 2030 and renewable electricity becomes the dominant source of electricity production at about 36% of the electricity mix. There are similar positive trends regarding energy efficiency, with the energy intensity of passenger transport, for example, falling by 30% in China, India, the EU, the US, Brazil, and Japan in aggregate.

– However, the report highlights that INDCs would imply uneven progress among the drivers of decarbonisation. Some crucial low-carbon solutions, like CCS, electric vehicles, advanced biofuels, sustainable urban planning, appear unlikely to be developed under the INDCs at the scale and speed required for a 2°C scenario. Likewise, the report highlights that INDCs would leave too much inefficient and unabated fossil fuel capacity online in 2030 to be coherent with a 2 degrees scenario. This highlights the risks of lock-in into a high carbon trajectory if action is not strengthened quickly.

– The INDCs need to be strengthened to keep the 2°C goal within reach. The INDCs alone, as currently proposed, would imply the need for a dramatic and abrupt shift of course in 2030 and a technically challenging and economically costly rate of transformation thereafter, if the 2°C goal is to be maintained.

– The Paris Agreement can build a bridge between INDCs and 2°C by establishing predictable and credible mechanism for regularly strengthening targets and policies, on a five yearly timeframe with the first strengthening taking place by 2020 at the latest. The report explores such a bridge scenario in which action is strengthened over time, beyond the level of ambition implied by the INDCs. In this scenario, a strengthening of policies and commitments by 2020 reduces emissions by more than 5 Gt CO2e in 2030 compared to the INDC level, allowing a less costly, more feasible trajectory towards 2°C. It also allows for a smoother reallocation of investment away from high-carbon towards low-carbon technologies and infrastructure, avoiding the risk of stranded assets and economic disruption.

Strengthening climate targets and policies will be aided by the fact that INDCs can lead to significant co-benefits to climate mitigation. For the countries studied, the report found significant reductions in energy dependency and local air pollution. “We found that the INDCs will also have benefits beyond climate mitigation—they will help countries to reduce local air pollution and curb growing energy imports in the EU, Japan and China,” says Jessica Jewell, researcher at the the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). “Such co-benefits can be a significant opportunity to develop ambitious national climate policies, as they would further increase with strengthening the INDCs”, she adds.

Read the full report.

Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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Economy

IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”

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IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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