23 September 2014

Island nations commission report on climate solutions

IIASA researchers served as key authors on a new report on climate solutions commissioned by island nations, which are poised to suffer early and greater climate impacts. The report was released at the UN Climate Summit this week.

©Richard Whitcombe Shutterstock

©Richard Whitcombe Shutterstock

IIASA researchers have co-authored a new real-world, near-term solution action plan commissioned by the Republic of Nauru, Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and written by 30 leading climate and energy experts from around the world, which was formally released at the United Nations Climate Summit on 23 September, 2014. 

IIASA Deputy Director General Nebojsa Nakicenovic served as one of the lead authors of the report, which draws heavily on the results of the IIASA-coordinated Global Energy Assessment, which was released in 2012. Other IIASA co-authors included Mitigation of Air Pollution and Greenhoues Gases Program Director Markus Amann, and Shonali Pachauri, a senior research scholar in the IIASA Energy Program. On 22 September Nakicenovic presented the report to the President of the Republic of Nauru.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has asked world leaders to come to the Climate Summit with bold initiatives to lower the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the climate crisis. In response, this paper defines a suite of existing policies and technologies that the international community can use to immediately speed and scale the transformation to a low-carbon economy and avert the worst impacts of climate change.

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“We have the technology and know-how to solve this climate crisis and save the people and families from the most threatened communities across our planet. What is missing is the courage to make the change—and that has to come from world leaders,” said Nauruu’s Ambassador, Marlene Moses, Chair of AOSIS. “Our hope is this paper will help these leaders set the appropriate priorities to make rapid emissions reductions before time runs out for us.”

“We want to make it clear that the international community can answer Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s challenge and act boldly now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Bob Watson, Strategic Director of the Tyndall Centre at the University of East Anglia and former Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who served as chair of the report. Success is essential for current and future generations, but is only achievable if we tackle the technological, institutional, financial and political inertia now.  Our current pathway will not achieve the deep emissions cuts we need, but is more closely aligned with temperature increases closer to 3 oC or much greater. Time is running out.

The paper builds on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Global Energy Assessment, and information from leading scientific and energy experts to identify the most promising and readily available steps to rapidly lower emissions in the near term.
Some of the main findings include: 

  • There is major cost-effective potential to rapidly increase efficiency in the transportation, building, industrial, agricultural, waste management and water sectors with existing commercially available technologies and use of best practice, given appropriate policy support.  For example, energy efficiency building retrofits can typically achieve 70-90% reduction in energy consumption for heating and cooling.
  • Wind and solar PV will result in about 1.4 billion tonnes of avoided CO2 emissions per year by 2020, but with great policy support could cut another billion tonnes of emissions globally.
  • Where governments have made climate a priority, smart policies have facilitated the transformative scaling up of renewable energy and end-use efficiency.  On a sunny day, Germany can generate more than half its electricity from solar power; one-third of new builds in Vienna use nearly zero energy for heating and cooling; in 2013 Denmark and Spain produced 33% and 21%, respectively of their electricity from wind.
  • An effective price on carbon to reflect the health and environmental costs of emissions for current and future generations would send the right price signal to drive investment in clean technology.
  • The least efficient coal plants should be retired and no new coal plants without Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) should be built.
  • A systems-wide transformation towards a low-carbon economy requires policies to catalyze institutional reform and behavioural change as a complement to low carbon technologies.

Small Island Developing States contribute only a small percentage of the emissions driving the climate crisis, but many have already pledged to make dramatic reductions and to even go carbon-neutral in the next few years.

This report makes it clear to global leaders that further delay in tackling the biggest crisis of our generation is unacceptable. We are morally responsible for the predictable outcomes of our decisions. Failing to act on climate change would lead to more needless suffering, more deaths and potentially the loss of entire nations like ours, said Ambassador Moses.

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Download the report (PDF)

The full report is available here: http://aosis.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Tackling-Climate-Change-K.pdf
 
  



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Last edited: 25 September 2014

CONTACT DETAILS

Nebojsa Nakicenovic

IIASA Deputy Director General/Deputy Chief Executive Officer

Directorate

Senior Research Scholar

Transitions To New Technologies

Senior Research Scholar

Energy

T +43(0) 2236 807 411

Markus Amann

Program Director

Air Quality and Greenhouse Gases

T +43(0) 2236 807 432

Shonali Pachauri

Senior Research Scholar

Energy

T +43(0) 2236 807 475

GLOBAL ENERGY ASSESSMENT

The new report relies in part on findings from the 2012 Global Energy Assessment.

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
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