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Progress can be made at COP26 by clean energy innovation, methane cutting and getting China & India on board for Net-zero
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Progress can be made at COP26 by clean energy innovation, methane cutting and getting China & India on board for Net-zero


Much of the news coming out of the U.N. climate conference has focused on the spectacle, and how countries’ pledges aren’t on trackto stop dangerous climate change. There is hope behind the scenes.

As falling costs make renewable energy accessible, many countries are already in the process of energy transition. more affordable than fossil fuels.

Now the challenge is for government officials to figure out how to scale up clean energy rapidly while reducing fossil fuel emission and still meeting the environment. rapidly growing energy demandsbillions of people in emerging and developing economies. With an ongoing energy crisisThis early stage of the energy transition has created shortages and record high prices in many countries. It is important to have well-planned policies and prioritized plans.

As climate policy expertsWe have decades of experience in international energy policies and identified six strategic priorities to help countries navigate this difficult terrain.

Illustration showing where to cut emissions soonest most efficiently
In order to meet the Paris climate deal goal of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 F), we must reduce fossil fuels and increase renewable energy and energy efficacy, as well as keep carbon dioxide out the atmosphere using techniques like carbon capture and storage or usage (CCS/CCU).
International Renewable Energy Agency

1) Expand carbon pricing and markets

Only a handful countries, states and regions currently have a carbon priceThis is enough to encourage polluters to reduce their emissions.

A price on carbon, often created through a tax or carbon market system, captures the cost of harms caused by greenhouse gas emissions that companies don’t currently pay for, such as climate change, damage to crops and rising health care costs. It is especially important for energy-intensive and power production industries.

One of the goals of the Glasgow negotiations was to develop rules to ensure that carbon markets operate smoothly and transparently. That’s essential for effectively meeting the many net-zero climate goals that have been announced by countries from Japan and South Korea to the U.S., China and those in the European Union. It also contains rules about the use of carbon offsetsThese allow individuals and companies to invest in other projects to offset their own carbon emissions. Carbon offsets can be found currently highly contentiousNot delivering reliable emissions credits.

2) Pay attention to the most difficult-to-decarbonize areas

All industries, including shipping, road freight and those like aluminum, cement, and steel, are included. difficult places for cutting emissions, in part because they don’t yet have tested, affordable replacements for fossil fuels. There are some innovative ideas, competitiveness concerns – such as companies moving production out of the country to avoid regulations – have been a key barrier to progress.

Europe is trying to overcome the barrier by establishing a carbon border adjustment mechanism, which would tax imports of goods that didn’t face the same level of carbon taxes at home.

At the summit, the United States and the European Union announced that they would work together to reach a global agreement. reduce the high emissions in steel production.

3) Get China and other emerging countries on board

It is clear that coal, the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, needs to be phased out fast, and doing so is critical to both the U.N.‘s energy and climate agendas. There is no other way to put it than this. half of global coalChina is the most important emerging economy, but other emerging economies like India, Indonesia, and Vietnam are also important.

This will not come easily. Notably half of the Chinese coal plants are less than a decade old, a fraction of a coal plant’s typical life span. China has increased its climate commitments. It pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060, and also agreed to end financing of coal power plants in other countriesIts not a problem. current pathwayThis decade will not see any significant reductions.

A major announcement from India’s prime minister at the COP around a net-zero goalIt is a win for his country by 2070 with interim targets for reducing emissions before then.

4) Put the emphasis on innovation

Innovation has brought cutting edge renewable power and electric cars much faster than expected because of the support for innovation. There is more to come. For example: offshore windGeothermal, carbon capture and green hydrogenNew developments can make a huge difference in the coming years.

At the climate conference, a coalition of world leaders launched what they call the “Breakthrough Agenda” – a framework for bringing governments and businesses together to collaborate on clean energy and technology. The Glasgow BreakthroughsInclude making electric vehicles affordable. bringing down clean energy costsAll this is possible by 2030.

Companies and countries that are leaders in the development of these technologies will reap economic benefits. This includes jobs and economic growth. There are many more opportunities. market design, social acceptance, equity, regulatory frameworks and business models. The energy system is deeply interconnected to social issues. Therefore, changing them will only be successful if they look beyond technology to address societal needs.

5) Prioritize green financing

In another alliance, over 160 banks and investment firms are part of it. put pressure on high-emissions industriesBy tying lending decisions to the global goal of net-zero emissions by 2020

Ramping up green financing will require transparent taxonomies, or guidelines, for defining green and clean investments; science-based transition plans for companies and financial institutions; and a hard look at portfolios of financial institutions given the risk of substantial stranded fossil fuel assets, such as coal power plants that haven’t reached the end of their life spans but can no longer be used.

Meeting the transition funding needs of developing economiesPrioritizing this task should be a top priority.

6) Reduce short-lived greenhouse gas emissions

The Biden administration announced a sweeping set of rulesNovember 2, 2021, to reduce methane (a greenhouse gas much more potent that carbon dioxide) from leaking oil and gas infrastructures, coal mines, agriculture, and landfills. Methane doesn’t stay in the atmosphere as long, so stopping emissions can have faster climate benefits while carbon emissions are reduced.

The United States and the European Union urge the whole world to cut methane emissions by nearly one-third by 2030. According to the White House more than 90 countriesAre available.

This type of coalition is based upon a narrowly focused issue and can result in significant emissions reductions in locations that are less likely support larger climate agreements.

There is no one solution

It is likely that U.N. Energy and Climate deliberations will continue to move in fits-and-starts. The real work must be done at a higher level of implementation, such as in states and provinces, or municipalities.

If there is one thing that we have learned is that mitigating the effects of climate change will take a lot of work. While it’s uncontested that the benefits of greenhouse gas mitigation far exceed the costsPoliticians need to demonstrate that the energy transitions occurring are beneficial for communities and economies, and can generate long-lasting jobs as well as tax revenue.

COP26: the world’s biggest climate talks

This story is part of The Conversation’s coverage of COP26, the Glasgow climate conference, by experts from around the world.

The Conversation is here for you to clarify the air and get reliable information amid a flood of climate news stories and news. Read more of our U.S. global coverage.

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