Report Report: Are countries moving toward a low-carbon future?

Report Report: Are countries moving toward a low-carbon future?

Countries mitigating climate change
ShutterstockElfred Tseng
Artist Naziha Mestaoui lights up the Eiffel Tower on eve of COP21. Will countries seize this opportunity to mitigate climate change?

The Report Report brings you highlights from recent reports that are worth a look. Too often, reports from business groups and analysts gather dust on desks, or virtual dust in email inboxes. This edition examines high-profile reports released around COP21 in Paris. Share your own reports by emailing us here.

Green to Scale: Low Carbon success stories to inspire the world

Source: Finnish Innovation Fund SITRA

What they say:

"We show that emissions-reducing solutions that have already proven to be successful can be scaled up internationally to deliver substantial and rapid emission reductions at the global level."

SITRA is an independent public foundation under the Finnish Parliament that invests in funds that provide a more sustainable society beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The report claims that if its 17 climate solutions were adapted internationally, the world would eliminate close to 13.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.  

The report highlights how many of these solutions require limited costs compared to the subsidies already provided to fossil fuel companies. SITRA argues that the solutions would cost $94 billion by 2030, equal to eight days’ worth of global fossil-fuel subsidies. The report states that many solutions proposed by the fund are not new, and rather it adopts already successful practices being used in countries.

What we say:

Amid the U.N. climate talks, many sustainability advocates question if countries actually will make policy changes to prevent the world’s temperature from rising above 2 degrees Celsius. This comprehensive report is a practical guide to how government leaders and policymakers can do their part, and suggests solutions to policymakers that benefit both the environment and the economy.

The incredibly detailed report provides obtainable solutions. Instead of rehashing vague platforms for how developing countries need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it analyzes what specific countries are doing. For instance, China has installed the most solar water heaters in the world. If other countries in Asia and Africa did so, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 74 million tons and result in savings of $4 billion to $10 billion a year.

100% Clean and Renewable Wind, Water, and Sunlight (WWS) All Sector Energy Roadmaps for 139 Countries of the World

Source: The Solutions Project

What they say:

"The roadmaps here are developed with a consistent methodology across all countries and with the goal of maximizing emission reductions of both health-affecting air pollutants and climate-relevant greenhouse gases and particles while quantifying land use requirements, jobs, and costs."

The Solutions Project, which models how each U.S. state could use 100 percent renewable energy, released a report taking these models one step further. It developed a roadmap for how each country could become powered by wind, water and solar. This report details where each nation stands, and where countries can obtain energy to meet this goal.

Overall the report found that "the business, health, plus climate costs of a 100 percent clean and renewable energy system were approximately 60 percent lower than those of a business-as-usual system."

What we say: 

The Solution Projects provides a report for those technically minded who enjoy reading something more nuanced and detailed about the world’s transition to renewable energy. What makes this report compelling is that it provides a roadmap to renewables for countries that often are not discussed by the general media, and provides analysis specifically geared for individual countries.

Estonia, for example, would get 60 percent of its energy from on-shore wind and 20.66 percent of its energy from off-shore wind.

This country-specified information could help anyone envisioning the renewables landscape around the world, beyond the United States, Western Europe or China. It also shows where countries stack up in 2050 in becoming 100 percent reliant on cleaner energy, helpful for understanding what countries are doing right.

The $2 trillion stranded assets danger zone: How fossil fuel firms risk destroying investor return

Source: Carbon Tracker Institute

 What they say:

"The data is clear — the energy transition is underway, and the direction of travel is away from fossil fuels. But not everyone will admit that the train has left the station, let alone that it is traveling faster than people expected and may skip some stations along the way."

Carbon Tracker discusses how fossil fuel companies could risk losing $2.2 trillion by continuing to pursue projects that are not feasible if the world leaders are serious about a global cap of 2 degrees Celsius. It looks at which fossil fuel firms are most exposed if an international accepted carbon budget is met. Carbon Tracker claims that of the $2.2 trillion in loses, $1.9 trillion are associated with new projects.

The report also states that coal companies need to significantly reduce capital expenditures in new projects, which U.S. coal companies  —  Peabody, Murray and Foresight  — need to halve in order align with the International Energy Agency's 450 scenario.

What we say:

Any report that Carbon Tracker produces is worth a deep read, and this is no different. On the dawn of COP21, Carbon Tracker’s report provides a comparison of where countries stack up in how prepared they are for the IEA’s 450 scenario. 

China, U.S., Australia, India and Indonesia account for over 90 percent of the the world’s total unneeded capital expenditures in thermal coal, and the U.S., Canada, Russia, Mexico and Kazakhstan make up half of the unneeded capex in oil. These comparisons are important, showing what countries have at stake during COP21 if the world is serious about minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.

ND-GAIN Country Index

Source: The University of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index 

What they say:

"The ND-GAIN Country Index follows a data-driven approach to show which countries are best prepared to deal with global changes brought about by overcrowding, resource-constraints and climate disruption."

What we say:

The ND-GAIN Country Index is not a text report, but a visual tool that shows how vulnerable or prepared each country is to climate change. The index just released information about 2014, which shows that the United Kingdom, Norway and Germany are the least vulnerable to climate change, while Somalia, Eritrea are most vulnerable. The visual also shows how prepared countries are for climate change and how their preparedness has changed since 1995. For anyone who wants to get a general understanding of how resilient certain countries are to climate change, check it out.