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U.N. Proposes Pathways to Decarbonisation

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 8 2014 (IPS) - National teams in 15 of the world’s largest carbon emitting countries collaborated to produce a 194-page report, which outlines the vast technological transformations that each country must make to prevent global warming from exceeding 2°C.

The report, launched Tuesday by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network, aims to lead the debate in the run-up to the 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris.

It was the first report of the Deep Decarbonisation Pathways Project (DDPP).

The Secretary General struck an optimistic tone at the report’s presentation. “Change is in the air,” he said. “Solutions exist. The race is on, and it’s time to lead. Deep decarbonisation is feasible, but it requires global commitment to advancing key low-carbon energy technologies.”

According to Jeffrey Sachs, the world is on a trajectory to see a temperature increase of 4°C, double the limit set by the U.N. “The business as usual path would be an absolutely reckless and unforgivable gamble for this planet,” he said.
Current debate focuses on narrow measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as switching from coal to gas in U.S. power plants, but Sachs asserted that a deeper transformation is necessary.

The DDPP report identifies three pillars of deep decarbonisation.

First, energy efficiency should be improved. Second, energy should only be produced from renewable resources or fossil fuels paired with carbon capture and storage methods. Third, transportation, construction and industry should move away from carbon-intensive fossil fuels towards electric power.

These three pillars are at the heart of the decarbonisation pathways of all 15 countries covered in the report, which account for 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The teams from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, the U.K. and the U.S. adjusted this basic framework depending on national circumstances.
While the DDPP report demonstrates that deep carbonisation is possible in theory, funding problems remain.

“We’re profoundly under-investing in the research and development of low-carbon technology,” Sachs lamented.

Despite the difficulties, Ban hoped that the development of this report would spur further efforts at decarbonisation. “By seeing what is possible,” he said, “others can take inspiration and follow suit.”

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