Study lends scientific support to calls for more ambitious climate action.
PARIS – With an important United Nations climate change meeting approaching later this year in Paris, a new study from an international research consortium argues that deeply reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is technically and economically feasible in the world’s largest economies and major developing countries. The report from the Deep Decarbonisation Pathways Project (DDPP), a collaboration among research teams from 16 of the highest emitting countries, lends scientific support to calls for more action to prevent dangerous climate change in the run-up to the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP-21) of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change this December.
The study includes reports on each of the countries represented by DDPP research teams – Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States – describing country-specific strategies for transitioning to a low carbon economy.
The project is co-funded by the European Climate Foundation.
The European Climate Foundation (ECF) was established in 2008 as a major philanthropic initiative to promote climate and energy policies that greatly reduce Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions and to help Europe play a stronger international leadership role to mitigate climate change. The ECF is funded by major multi-year commitments from donors in Europe and the United States. The ECF is part of the international ClimateWorks Network that shares goals, strategies and resources to address the global challenge of climate change mitigation with a global network of aligned organisations.
The ECF team is a highly dynamic group of individuals, combining ambition and passion with a rigorous, results-oriented and analytic approach to work. The ECF’s culture is one of intensity, enthusiasm and mutual support.
Finance and Economics at ECF
The Finance and Economics cluster at the ECF is a new venture, focusing specifically on the catalytic role of private sector finance in the low-carbon transition in Europe. We work across the ECF programmes and with our grantee partners on two broad workstreams:
Deepening the understanding of future stranded-asset risks in carbon-intensive investments and thus contributing to the financing shift away from high-carbon activities; and
Improving investor familiarity with low-carbon finance as well as reducing or removing the various regulatory, policy and market-design obstacles to the rollout of low-carbon finance at scale in European markets.
Our work proceeds from a deep understanding of private sector finance and its interactions with government policy at both a national and European level.
The position – Programme Assistant, Finance and Economics
The Finance and Economics cluster is looking for a committed and energetic professional to support its programme. The selected candidate will be based in Berlin, work full-time and report to the Associate Strategic Planning. Tasks include the following:
General administrative duties as a significant proportion of the work, including travel bookings, diary management, expenses etc.,
Organising and administering grantee partnerships,
Supporting the drafting of terms of reference for projects and the assessment of proposals,
Supporting the preparation of grant documentation for Board meetings,
Supporting the organisation of internal and external meetings and events,
Supporting research activities,
Preparing agendas, taking minutes of meetings and calls, assisting in the preparation of presentations and reports,
Performing other day-to-day duties as required.
The ideal candidate embodies the following professional qualifications, experience and personal attributes:
At least two years of college or university degree,
Excellent analytical, writing, editing and communications skills in English,
Aptitude with outlook, excel, word and powerpoint,
Proven ability to work in and adapt to fast changing and pressured environments,
Proven ability to communicate effectively and professionally with a wide range of people, demonstrated strengths in cross-organisation collaboration,
Ideally some work experience in an international environment,
Ideally some experience in working with grant-making and fundraising,
Ideally some experience of climate change issues in a professional setting,
Positive attitude, flexibility and willingness to help,
Excellent attention to detail,
Strong interest in the mission of the European Climate Foundation.
We offer a challenging position with great possibilities for professional development and an excellent work atmosphere.
Location: Berlin, Germany
Start date: As soon as practicable
Duration: 12 months with possible extension
To apply: Please send your CV and cover letter in English to: SMO-PAFE@europeanclimate.org. Please indicate ´Recruitment – (job title)´ in the Subject line. Telephone calls will not be forwarded to the recruitment team. All candidates will however receive a written reply.
Candidates need to be in the possession of a work permit for Germany in case applicable.
Europe has a significant untapped potential for converting wastes from farming, forestry, industry and households to advanced low-carbon biofuels, but only if it sets a strong sustainability framework and ambitious decarbonisation targets for transport fuels in 2030, finds a new report entitled “Wasted: Europe’s Untapped Resource.”
The project, supported by a coalition of technology innovators and green NGOs, was convened by the ECF. The study found that if all sustainable waste from farms, forests, households and industry were used for transport fuels, there could be sufficient fuel to displace about 37 million tonnes of oil annually by 2030. To put this in context, this technical potential would be equal to 16 per cent of road transport fuel demand in 2030.
“Even when taking account of possible indirect emissions, alternative fuels from wastes and residues offer real and substantial carbon savings,” said Chris Malins who led the analysis for the International Council on Clean Transportation. “The resource is available, and the technology exists – the challenge now is for Europe to put a policy framework in place that allows rapid investment.”
Brussels/London: The European Climate Foundation (ECF), a leading philanthropic organisation with the aim of promoting the transition to a low-carbon economy, is pleased to announce the appointment of Sharon Turner as its new Executive Director for Governance and Law.
An expert in environmental law and governance and a qualified Barrister, Sharon Turner was Director of the Climate & Energy Programme at environmental law organisation ClientEarth in London before joining the ECF.
Sharon Turner was previously Professor of Environmental Law at Queen’s University Belfast, where she worked for 25 years. During this time, she was seconded to the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland, where Sharon Turner acted as the Department’s senior legal advisor on the environment for two years. She is Visiting Professor at University College London and the University of Sussex.
In her new role at the ECF, Sharon Turner will lead the organisation’s work on energy and climate governance and law. An immediate focus will be the ongoing efforts to help define a transparent and feasible governance system for the Energy Union in order to ensure proper implementation of the EU’s domestic and international obligations for climate and energy.
Johannes Meier, CEO of the ECF, said: “Europe’s Energy Union can only be successful if its legal framework provides a clear and realistic pathway towards a single, low-carbon EU energy market. Due to her extensive experience both as a private sector and government legal consultant and as an outstanding academic in the field, Sharon Turner is perfectly positioned to drive the ECF’s work on governance. We are delighted to welcome Sharon to the Executive Management Team and look forward to working with her.”
The Chair of the ECF Supervisory Board speaks at the Conference on Sustainable Innovation – Towards the UN Convention on Climate Change
The governments of Israel and Germany held a conference on sustainable development and innovation in Tel Aviv, Israel on 14 July. Caio Koch-Weser, Chair of the ECF Supervisory Board, was invited to address the conference in his capacity as a member of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.
The Commission’s New Climate Economy (NCE) Report “Better Growth, Better Climate” was launched last year and the paradigm of the report has met with a highly positive reception. Evidence shows that decarbonisation and economic growth can go hand in hand. Thus, the report’s findings moved climate protection from cost to opportunity, and they have since begun to influence the global agenda.
The Commission’s second report “Seizing the Opportunity: Partnerships for Better Growth and a Better Climate” released on 7 July identifies a number of major trends offering new opportunities to accelerate this transition. Mr Koch-Weser first outlined the key NCE messages; second turned to promising, emerging trends showing alignment of objectives is possible; and, third, proposed a collective action agenda, which can steer the process towards a sustainable future.
In 2014, the European Climate Foundation commissioned DNV GL, an international certification body with expertise in technical assessment, energy and research, to look at indicators for the EU’s new 2030 governance system on climate and energy.
DNV GL finds that the initial set of indicators, presented by the European Commission in January 2014, represents a good starting point but falls short of providing a holistic view of the EU energy system and, therefore, does not appear sufficient to ensure comprehensive monitoring of targets, drivers and risks related to the transition of the EU energy system. The report therefore proposes a list of additional indicators be taken into consideration, indicators such as: (1) carbon and energy intensity ratios, (2) true energy costs (in relation to energy intensity), (3) investment climate (monitoring public and private investments), (4) a combination of indicators for energy security (beyond simple n–1 amount of suppliers), and others.
Study shows climate levy can significantly reduce CO2-emissions in the power sector by 2020
The so called “climate levy” proposed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy can significantly reduce CO2-emissions in the German power sector by 2020 and thus help meet the national 40 per cent climate target, says a new study by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), which was commissioned by the ECF and the Heinrich Böll Foundation. The report says that compared to other options, which are currently being discussed, the climate levy is the most cost-effective and efficient option and offers opportunities for the structural transition and for employment.
Please download the study here (German version only).
The European Climate Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of Industrial Innovation for Competitiveness (i24c), a new initiative aimed at strengthening Europe’s industrial leadership in the new world economy, and headed by Dr Martin Porter, Executive Director i24c and a member of the ECF Executive Management Team.
As the global economy decarbonises rapidly and is transformed by technological, social and ecological mega-trends, Europe needs to adopt a more systemic and innovation-focused industrial policy to reap the benefits of this transition.
i24c will bring together economic policy-makers, new and established industrial entrepreneurs, cities and academic institutions with the aim of creating a new European industrial compact, a joint vision for a competitive European industry as well as the evidence-base and innovation pathways to achieve the transition to the new economy.
Johannes Meier, CEO of the European Climate Foundation, stresses that “only through a systemic approach to innovation in its industry will Europe be able to reap the benefits from the transition to a low-carbon economy. i24c’s work will help end the sterile debate between competitiveness and climate action which has been preventing real progress in transforming Europe’s industrial base and prosperity”.
The work of i24c will be guided by a High Level Group of respected policy-makers and industrialists such as former European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, former Director-General of the World Trade Organisation Pascal Lamy, Gary McGann, CEO of Smurfit-Kappa, Beata Stelmach, CEO Poland and the Baltics, GE and Mikko Kosonen, CEO of Sitra.
Chris Barrett contributes to the OECD Forum IdeaFactory “Climate, Carbon, COP21 and Beyond” on 2 June 2015.
His contribution is available online via OECD Insights and below.
The ECF was established in 2008 as a major philanthropic initiative to promote climate and energy policies to cut Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions and to help Europe play an even stronger international leadership role to mitigate climate change. I run our finance sector policy program, and would like to give you an idea of how I see that work and its role in delivering climate mitigation.
We’re all shaped by context and in my case that context is more than a decade working on various versions of what would become Australia’s carbon tax in 2012. My colleagues like to tease me that once the Australian carbon tax was abolished in 2014 my “theory of change, changed” and there’s something to that.
But you don’t need a political mugging in a dark alley to understand that we’re asking a great deal of today’s governments to mandate the emissions cuts science tells us we need. The politics are always devilishly hard when the avoided damage appears (and I emphasise “appears”) to be far off in the future, and the costs of action appear (emphasis again) large and immediate.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t demand a strong deal in Paris – we absolutely should and must, and I recommend my World Resources Institute colleague Jennifer Morgan’s recent work as a great primer on the contours of a powerful and effective Paris deal.
But successful political action never occurs in a vacuum and we’re better to understand a “threshold logic” at work in which a great many forces (political pressure, observable climate phenomena, changing personal and corporate behavior) build up momentum and facts on the ground which can then crystallise in a new policy consensus.
We typically think of these things as happening very slowly, but only because our habits of thinking don’t cope well with transitions where an unsustainable state exists for a long time before suddenly it ceases being sustained. What we need are analogies – never perfect in themselves – to demonstrate a long run-up and sudden resolution in the past to give us scenarios for how our current climate collective action problem may cross a critical threshold.
I think there are two powerful analogies from the world of finance, each of which underpins a crucial message about the low-carbon transition.
Message one: the carbon bubble is real
Consider a banker in 2006 holding a portfolio of credit default swaps based on US sub-prime mortgages. That US housing values were unsustainable has now entered the canon of global economic history, but it’s worth reflecting on the investor assumptions that held sway in the years approaching the crisis: investors assumed the underlying investment was sound, that any defaults would be distant in time or isolated in number or both and perhaps most importantly, that even if the trend of increasing home lending in debt was unsustainable, any unwinding would be slow and orderly, or slow enough for that particular investor to sell before the crash.
Of course you know where I’m going with this. The carbon bubble popularised by Bill McKibben, Carbon Tracker and others argues powerfully that holders of carbon-intensive assets are soothing themselves with the same false assumptions: asset values are safe, carbon regulations that might devalue them are in the distant future, and any decarbonisation path will at worst be slow or gradual and well-telegraphed for the astute investor which of course includes them.
But unquestionably, this view is even more deluded than for our sub-prime investor in 2006. The analysis is there for anyone who cares to look – fully 80% of proven carbon reserves – sitting on the balance sheets of companies around the world – are unburnable if the world is to maintain the 2° warming scenario to which governments committed already in Copenhagen.
There is a ready-made explanation for this of course, namely that investors do not believe governments are serious about the 2° target and they will never feel the value-destroying regulations they are supposed to fear. As a piece of political analysis, this would worry me deeply if I were one of those investors, and for four reasons:
One, those regulations exist already, and the trend is towards their increase, even before Paris commitments are finalized – the EU Large Combustion Plant Directive, the US Clean Air Act, and even the recent proposed coal levy in Germany are all examples;
Two, regulations don’t need to target carbon to destroy the value of carbon-intensive assets. The biggest climate story of the year so far – the nearly 5% year-on-year fall in Chinese coal consumption – has been driven to a very large extent by air pollution concerns.
Three, there is economic stranding of assets too, as I hardly need to explain given recent plunges in fossil fuel commodity prices.
Four, the political heat is being turned up on a critical component of high-carbon asset values, namely the implicit and explicit subsidies on which they depend. Explicit subsidies are falling as government budgets come under more pressure and the lower oil price makes reform less politically painful. And implicit subsidies have just had a spotlight shone on them by one of the best pieces of public good economic research I have seen in recent years – the IMF quantifying them at the lion’s share of an astonishing $10 million a minute.
…and all of this is before we consider the gathering impact of divestment campaigns around the world, which have the ultimate aim of removing what I would call the “social licence to operate in capital markets” for fossil fuel companies. Just last week, we saw arguably the most spectacular and consequential example of this, namely the divestment decision by Norway’s giant sovereign wealth fund.
And then let me add a further reason to worry about a carbon bubble, and I proceed from another analogy:
Message two: low carbon economics are transformational
Consider you are a stockholder in Kodak in the mid-1990s and again let’s look at the underlying assumptions for why your investment is safe. People need your film to record their memories, it’s an inexpensive product, it’s ubiquitous, and your market position is strong. You’re thoroughly unprepared for a competitor – a digital camera – with a marginal cost of zero.
You see where I’m going here too. Solar PV, just to cite the most obvious example – dematerialises energy the same way as digital photography dematerialised photography. I didn’t name or compile this next chart, but it makes in very dramatic fashion a point my colleagues at Agora Energiewende in Berlin recently devoted a long and fascinating analysis to: solar outcompeting conventional new coal and gas fired plants by 2025.
And it is not just solar, of course, as recent announcements by Tesla of its move into home batteries have focused investors on the Moore’s Law cost trajectory of battery storage.
Nor is Kodak an isolated example. We have seen this again and again in recent decades with technology disruptions: floppy disks, video stores, CDs. Capitalism forces radical sectoral change all the time.
Reflections on the psychology of climate action
I started with personal stories, so let me finish with one. When we introduced the Australian carbon tax, our Treasury did some modeling to work out what the impacts on emissions and inflation might be. The impacts were extremely low – effectively a one-off increase in inflation of less than one percent, but the lived experience of the tax beat even that. When the tax was introduced, we saw emissions fall more than expected with a lower inflation impact than expected. As a practical matter, it always surprised me as an economist that we would spend decades in Australia pushing for a lightly regulated, flexible market economy and then freak out at the idea of the cost of one byproduct of production going up a bit in price.
This is just one example of my final message, which is that the costs of the low-carbon transition are routinely overestimated. Let me depart from economics and dabble for a moment in psychology. When we all (rightly) insist that climate change is an urgent and existential challenge, people almost automatically conclude the solutions must be painful and expensive. There’s no solution to this other than to be aware of it, and to be very disciplined about how we model and communicate the costs of action and repeat, repeat, repeat.
To re-cap, there are two powerful forces at work driving a low-carbon transition: a bubble building up in carbon-intensive assets, and transformative economics of many low-carbon investments. We have seen similar forces tip over into dramatic action in the past. And we needn’t fear the transition, since the costs will be lower than we expect.
What this all means for Paris is that the transition is coming, the question is how orderly it will be. In this context, the role for governments is clear – transitions are fairer, smoother and more durable when they are policy-led or at the very least, policy-enabled. And the clearer these underlying economic trends are to all players, the easier it will be for governments to act. Actually, a Paris deal has the chance to accelerate the transition and ensure a more orderly transition by sending clear signals reaffirming the messages that are flowing already. This is why we at ECF have a finance program, and why I’m delighted to be part of it.
Analysis by the Coalition for Energy Savings reveals that central governments have not shown leadership in ending the waste of energy in their own buildings.
Brussels, 21 May 2015 – New analysis by the Coalition for Energy Savings of national reports on the implementation of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) reveals that central governments have not shown leadership in ending the waste of energy in their own buildings.
The report analyses the plans and inventories that Member States notified to the European Commission in order to comply with Article 5 of the EED, which requires them to annually renovate 3% of the floor area of central government buildings or put in place alternative measures to reach at least the same energy savings.
Eleven Member States chose the default approach, while 17 Member States selected the alternative approach which allows them to opt for non-renovation measures, such as behavioural change campaigns. Out of the 11 Member States that have chosen the default procedure, only Latvia and Slovenia have provided good quality inventories, which are the first essential step to plan and start the renovations. Overall, Member States have provided limited information, and no clear plans on the renovations to be undertaken to achieve the required energy savings.
This is the third report in which the Coalition for Energy Savings monitors implementation of the EED with recommendations for Member States and the EU.