INSIGHTS ON ENERGY

Our aim is to provide an objective fact-base and set of insights to inform decision-makers, both public and private. We focus on different topics over time, bringing together leading research and multiple stakeholder perspectives to create regular insights that can be easily translated to action. 

 

Better Energy, Greater Prosperity

We must reduce carbon emissions by half by 2040 (compared to a business as usual scenario) with further cuts thereafter to achieve the Paris climate objective - limiting global warming to well below 2oC. Simultaneously, we must ensure economic development and access to affordable, sustainable and reliable energy for all, particularly in developing countries. Business and government must seize the opportunity to halve carbon emissions by 2040 while ensuring economic development and energy access for all, but immediate action is needed to accelerate clean electrification, decarbonization beyond power and energy productivity improvement. This report outlines achievable pathways to reduce carbon emissions while ensuring sustainable economic development and universal access to affordable and reliable energy.

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Shaping Energy Transitions

This short Position Paper describes the key energy transitions challenges that lie ahead and gives an overview of the Commission itself. It presents two main dimensions of energy transitions: economic development and climate change. It considers what it would take to achieve both ambitions, what makes this difficult, and what opportunities exist to accelerate transitions.

The paper also lays out the mission, core beliefs and work program of the Commission. It describes what dilemmas on energy system transitions we are trying to resolve and which questions we aim to answer. It then describes what approach we will take to do so and how we aim to have impact. The key exhibits in the paper can be found here.

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Pathways from Paris:

Assessing the INDC Opportunity

The 2015 United Nations climate change conference in Paris (COP21) agreed to limit global warming to well below 2ºC and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5ºC. Before the conference, participating countries submitted plans (INDCsto reduce their emissions. Many studies have shown that these together do not achieve the agreed upon global goals. We investigate what levers countries prioritize to reduce emissions and what opportunities exist for further reduction, ahead of the next round of submissions in 2018. In addition to the report, we have published the underlying data, a number of key presentation slides and generated an infographic.

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Economic growth in a low carbon world

Without a structural break in energy productivity, continued population growth and economic growth is likely to drive a significant increase in energy demand globally. This research paper developed by Vivid Economics for the Energy Transitions Commission investigates the drivers most likely to determine (differences in) future energy demand and the critical levers to achieve improvements in energy productivity of 3% per annum (compared to 1.7% today). This analysis charts how simultaneous radical improvements in energy productivity across the transport, industry and buildings sectors, driven both by continued technical progress and structural shifts in urban design and economic activities, could reduce global energy demand by 60% compared to business as usual by 2050.

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Low-cost, low-carbon power systems

By 2030, the all-in cost of a new power system based almost entirely on variable renewable energy will be lower than that of a fossil fuel-based system. This is the conclusion of the research carried out by Climate Policy Initiative for the Energy Transitions Commission analyzing the flexibility challenges, costs and solutions in a near-total-renewable-based power system. Low-carbon energy sources have greater flexibility requirements, driven by their nature and technical characteristics. These flexibility requirements are in turn highly dependent on regional specifics, such as demand profile, transmission capacity, hydroelectric capacity and weather. This research paper analyzes the challenges and opportunities in four distinct regions – California, Germany, Maharashtra and the Nordic Region – and outlines the levers by which system flexibility can be achieved at low cost in a near-total-variable-renewable system.

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A new electricity era: how to decarbonize energy systems through electrification

In a low-carbon power system, electrification could reduce fossil fuel use by at least 10-20% and lead to a 2-4 GT decrease in carbon emissions by 2040. At present, 78% of energy used by key non-power sectors (industry, transport and buildings) comes from fossil fuels, of which 17% comes from electricity generated from fossil fuels. In a world where power generation is decarbonized, extended electrification can help reduce CO2 emissions significantly by accelerating the decarbonization of energy supply and by improving energy productivity. This research paper co-produced by Climate Policy Initiative and Copenhagen Economics for the Energy Transitions Commission maps both the short-term sectoral opportunities and long-term innovations required to expand electrification.

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The Future of Fossil Fuels

Meeting a 2oC objective implies a strict carbon budget of maximum 900 billion tonnes of COemissions from the energy system between today and the end of the century. A 2oC energy transitions would therefore imply a significant decrease in fossil fuels use, with different trajectories for coal, oil and gas. In this context, fossil fuels should be considered as a scarce resource and their use concentrated in applications with highest value and limited alternatives, especially in industry. 

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