04 Jun WWF report shows how to close the emissions gap now
The latest report by WWF entitled “Crossing the Divide: How to Close the Emissions Abyss 2” launched on 2 June 2015 shows how a number of countries including the Phillipines, Kenya and Turkey can commence work to close the gap between the carbon reductions they have promised and the reductions scientists say are necessary.
In 2008 the Philippines enacted a Renewable Energy Act to drive investments towards the goal of 60% energy self-sufficiency by 2010. The National Renewable Energy Program (launched in 2009) sought to increase the capacity of renewable energy to more than 15000 Megawatts by 2030 (which was 3 times the 2010 capacity). The Philippines has abundant renewable energy resources, and the falling costs of renewable technologies (and rising fossil fuel costs) should be grounds for the Government to prioritise the development of renewable energy and liquefied natural gas over coal and oil. The WWF report also suggests that a moratorium on the construction of coal fired power plants is declared and that renewable energy installation targets are increased.
With respect to Kenya, the WWF report challenged the Government to implement its low carbon ambition by investing in the renewable energy sector, restore forests and to adopt reforestation. Geothermal energy was identified as having the largest abatement potential (approximately 14.1 Metric tonne Carbon Dioxide equivalents per year by 2030). By growing the investment in the electricity sector and ensuring that the potential is tapped, Kenya can take a cleaner development pathway.
Forest restoration has an abatement potential of 32.6 Metric tonnes Carbon Dioxide equivalent, and offers the best potential of all the options. Reforestation can realise another 6.1 Metric tonnes by 2030, and will also contribute to the Kenyan Government’s goal of 10% tree cover nationally.
Turkey currently has Presidency of the G20, and the WWF report urges Turkey to use the Presidency to push for strong and decisive action on phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. It further urges the country to increase the renewable energy target (up to 50% renewables by 2030), abandon its “coal first” policy, strengthen energy efficiency measures (including effective legislation and implementation) and set ambitious climate targets.
At the launch, WWF’s head of delegation to the UN climate negotiations Tasneem Essop stated that Governments can limit their post-2020 emissions in many ways, including scrapping coal fired power stations, increasing renewables to improve energy efficiency, strengthening emissions targets and addressing deforestation. The urgency to act, which shouldn’t really still be in doubt, is highlighted by substantial scientific evidence that emissions have to peak before 2020 and then fall substantially post 2020.
Essop also remarked that as all eyes will be focused on the post 2020 deal to be completed in Paris in December, there is a danger that attention is taken away from what is needed now which will delay urgent additional action over the next 5 years. If emissions continue to increase, long term targets will be much harder to meet. Governments need to show leadership, foresight and determination and make urgent changes now, according to Essop.
She also hoped that negotiators take the time to read the WWF report and be inspired to act decisively to realise development and economic benefits that can come from reducing emissions now.
The earlier Crossing the Divide: How to Close the Emissions Abyss report published in February this year featured developing countries including India and China and Developed Countries including Australia. India has already taken a number of measures related to climate change, including an aim to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 20-25% from 2005 levels by 2020 (implemented in 2009), and the publication of a National Action Plan on Climate change (launched in 2008) which identified a series of measures to simultaneously advance development and climate change adaptation and mitigation.
The Indian Government has increased its solar power target five-fold by 2022, and is also aiming for 60,000 Megawatts of wind power by 2022. The WWF report suggested further initiatives including increasing the tax on coal, a National Adaptation Fund to address climate change impacts and establishing “Ultra Mega Solar” projects nationwide.
In terms of China, the WWF report suggested that China speed up phasing out old and inefficient coal fired power plants now and cancel any plans for new plants (which could end up as stranded assets). China could also phase out coal from its electricity generation from 2050 and make it coal free by 2050, and its actions could be used to persuade other developing countries to be more sustainable.
The WWF report made a number of interesting recommendations for Australia. Firstly, it urged the Government to stay the course in terms of the 41,000 GWh (no longer possible given the recent deal between the Government and Opposition), take old and inefficient coal fired power plants out of the electricity grid (interesting given the Government’s pronouncement that coal is important to Australia’s future), strengthen energy efficiency measures (including strong vehicle emissions standards), phase HFC imports down to levels proposed by the US, Canada and Mexico (could realise reductions of up to 15 million tonnes per year) and introduce a cap and trade scheme that can be linked internationally (which could increase Australia’s emission reduction target from 5% to 25% at very little cost to the national economy.