The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)[IPCC, 2013 & 2014] underscores the dangers to human well-being of a business-as-usual scenario where average global temperatures rise by 4°C or more. Governments around the world have adopted the target of keeping the global rise in mean surface temperature below 2°C compared with the preindustrial average [UNFCCC,
2010]. This target translates into a limitation on global cumulative emissions of approximately 1,000 GtCO2 during the transition to a net-zero emission economy. Yet, current voluntary pledges – even if fully implemented – fall short of what is needed. According to the UNEP Emission Gap Report, existing commitments to reduce emissions are 8 to 10 GtCO2e below the minimum needed in 2020 to retain a 66% chance of staying within 2°C [UNEP, 2014].
As a benchmark for the transition to be implemented, global per capita emissions will need to fall to less than 2 tCO2e by 2050, where developed nations currently range from approximately 10 to 20 tCO2e per capita today [DDPP, 2014]. Realizing such a reduction in emissions requires unprecedented problem solving on all fronts: technological diffusion and innovation, infrastructure building, financing mechanisms, policy frameworks, institutional arrangements, business models, and consumer behavior. This problem solving is best organized around coherent visions of the required transformation, which take the form of deep decarbonization pathways (DDPs) to 2050.
To make a strong and convincing case for action at the national level, DDPs must be country-specific and developed by local experts. They need to fit within countries’ development strategies and align with their socioeconomic and environmental goals. They need to demonstrate that the short- and long-term challenges countries face, such as economic development, poverty eradication and job creation can be addressed in parallel to deep decarbonization. However, few countries have created such pathways. The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) offers an approach to develop such analysis.
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