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Urgent action is essential to curb damaging climate change, top senior stakeholders from Europe and around the world told the Friends of Europe ‘Climate and Energy Summit’ on 18 October in Brussels.
The discussion takes place at a very important time, Nouryon’s Director RD&I and Technology Marco Waas said: ten days after the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) report ‘Global Warming of 1.5°C’ and before the European Commission will propose, on 28 November, its decarbonisation strategy for 2050.
The IPPC report noted “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes” are needed for the world to meet the 1.5°C goal. As Daniela Jacob, Director of the Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS) and coordinating lead author of the latest IPCC report, warned: “If the world keeps global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, global carbon emissions must decline by about 45% between 2010 and 2030 and hit ‘net zero’ by 2050.”
Hans Van Steen, European Commission Acting Director for Renewables, Research and Innovation, Energy Efficiency, told the audience the Commission’s strategy recognised a “step change in efforts is needed across the board if there’s a chance of meeting these ambitious decarbonisation targets”.
Energy efficiency, electrification, renewable energy and other technologies like carbon capture and storage or “green” (from green electricity) hydrogen and even “blue” (from natural gas) hydrogen will play a part: “All technology should be on board,” said François-Régis Mouton, chair of the GasNaturally steering committee.
Digitilisation – especially of energy infrastructure and systems – will also be crucial in achieving this energy transition, Bernard Sahla, Chief Technical Officer and Senior Executive Vice-President of the EDF (Electricité de France) Group said, emphasising: “Conventional generation has to move.”
As COP24 in Katowice, Poland, approaches, one key message from the conference was to achieve strong implementation of the December 2015 Paris Agreement and to ensure Europe is on the same track as the IPCC report and ready for bold and ambitious action.
Another was to be more positive about the benefits of combating climate change. “Taking ambitious climate action could yield a direct economic gain of $US26 trillion compared to a business-as-usual scenario and generate over 65 million new low-carbon jobs through to 2030,” Helen Mountford, Director of Economics at the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Programme Director at the New Climate Economy (NCE) Initiative, noted. “We would also have health benefits: 700,000 fewer premature deaths in 2030.”
“There is so much positive energy,” concluded UNFCCC (Framework Convention on Climate Change) Deputy Executive Secretary Ovais Sarmad. “What the EU strategy needs to do now is visualise this and take forward policy in a sustainable way.”