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The making of a globally sustainable energy system

StevePye14 November 2016

sustainable world (c) istockphoto

Blog by Steve Pye, Paul Ekins, Ian Hamilton, November 2016

As delegates at COP22 in Marrakech convene to discuss how to implement the Paris Agreement, there is a continuing focus on how to move to a sustainable global energy system. The challenge is that fossil fuels have long been the mainstay of the energy system, and an essential driver of growth. Rapidly reducing our reliance on their use is no small task, but one that is essential if we are to succeed in achieving the climate ambition set out in the December 2015 Paris Agreement.  The challenge is brought sharply into focus when we consider that the global energy system accounts for 65% of anthropogenic GHG emissions[1], but will need to be a net zero-emitter at some point between 2050 and 2100.

The challenge

The barriers to this transition are immense. (more…)

Two months since COP21, where are we now?

RobertLowe21 January 2016

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In December 2015 immediately following the publication of the COP21 Paris Agreement I wrote a short note on the competing reasons for pessimism and optimism.  What follows expands on that theme. I am going to focus on three things: COP21, the confirmation that 2015 has been the warmest year on the instrumental record, and continued reports that coal consumption in China may have peaked. (more…)

The ground-breaking Paris Agreement leaves no room for delay in cutting emissions

StevePye15 December 2015

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The achievements of the Paris Agreement are significant. The contrast with the failure of Copenhagen in 2009 are captured in the following Guardian headlines: Low targets, goals dropped: Copenhagen ends in failure (19th December 2009) and Paris climate change agreement: the world’s greatest diplomatic success (14th December 2015).

The greatest achievement has been in getting all 195 countries committing to a strong level of ambition, to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C. This reflects strong recognition of the climate science in these negotiations. (more…)

The Paris Agreement – second time lucky?

PeterMallaburn14 December 2015

Paris - CC0 Public Domain - Unsplash

So the deal is done. And a very curious deal it is too.

As I said in the first part of this blog, the Paris Agreement is our second attempt at implementing the UNFCCC. The idea was to move away from the top-down mandatory, rich country approach of the Kyoto Protocol to a more bottom-up, voluntary approach with all countries involved.  To their enormous credit, the negotiators have succeeded. (more…)

Shipping under scrutiny in Paris at COP 21

TristanSmith9 December 2015

image001Something that has become a bit of a tradition at COP’s is the “Fossil of the day” award, run by the Climate Action Network. This is given to a member state that has caught the judge’s attention by doing something particularly unimpressive. On Day 3, for the first time, instead of being awarded to a country, it was given to shipping and aviation (the UN agencies that represent the sectors: IMO and ICAO), for the general lack of progress in their work to date to tackle their GHG emissions and climate impacts. (more…)

How a global solar alliance can help developing countries

Xavier M LLemaire7 December 2015

Throughout COP21 our staff and students will be blogging on climate change and sustainability.

This blog was previously published as an article for The Conversation on December 4th 2015 

The International Solar Alliance announced by India at the Paris climate conference invites together 120 countries to support the expansion of solar technologies in the developing world.

The cost of solar cells has decreased spectacularly over the past four decades, and the trend seems likely to continue. Solar energy has moved from a niche market for providing power in remote places (at the very beginning in 1958 to space satellites) to a mainstream technology which feeds into the national grid.

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Most developing countries benefit from high solar radiation. Souce: SolarGIS (c) 2015 GeoModel Solar

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Ratcheting up the ambition level: Implementing deep decarbonisation pathways

StevePye4 December 2015

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There is a sense that COP21 provides for greater optimism than previous climate change conferences. And for good reason. Emission reduction pledges have been made by most, and the largest emitters are for the first time meaningfully engaged. Providing an important backdrop to this are the positive signs of an energy systems transition underway, as renewables investment continues to grow as technology costs fall, and the rate of fossil fuel use growth slows. (more…)

Paris – outside looking in

PeterMallaburn30 November 2015

Throughout COP21 our staff and students will be blogging on climate change and energy.

With COP21 upon us I must admit to being a bit of a Framework Convention outsider, which is, perhaps, a bit strange for the editor of Climate Policy Journal. In 1990, as a civil servant I worked, peripherally, on the Berlin Mandate. I was at COP 7 in Marrakech, but at the margins. Some of the 1995 IPCC WG1 report is mine. But mostly I have been outside the COP process looking in. (more…)

Can country-led decarbonisation efforts help achieve a 2⁰C pathway? Henri Waisman’s message is inspiring and positive

Cara PJenkinson19 October 2015

19 – 25 October marks the inaugural Global Climate Change Week (#GCCW). GCCW is a new initiative designed to encourage academics in all disciplines and countries to engage with their students and communities on climate change action and solutions. UCL IEDE, UCL-Energy, UCL ISR and UCL ISH academics and students will be holding events and blogging through the week to share thoughts and ideas for the future.

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