An analysis of 17 Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) commissioned by the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) has shown that, despite a renewables revolution, more radical actions will be required to drive transitions to zero-carbon energy systems and to keep global temperature rise well below 2°C.

Both more rapid decarbonization of energy supply and big improvements in energy productivity will be essential.

The ETC has been established to accelerate the transition towards low-carbon energy systems that can ensure the well below 2°C target is achieved while enabling robust economic development.

Lord Adair Turner, Chairman of the Energy Transitions Commission, said: “By the end of this century, we must ensure that 10-11 billion people have standards of living currently enjoyed by the richest 10%; but by 2050, energy-related CO2 emissions must be reduced by 70% from 2010 levels. To design the needed revolution in energy systems requires input from many different players – governments, incumbent fossil fuel companies, new technology challengers, investors and NGOs. The ETC will bring together these different players, who often start with different points of view, but are united in their commitment that global warming must be limited to well below 2°C.

The ETC analysis points to two main levers for reducing emissions to limit global warming to well below 2°C: decarbonizing the global energy supply by increasing the share of low-carbon energy sources in the supply mix at a minimal rate of at least 1 percentage point per year and ensuring efficient growth of energy demand by improving energy productivity at a minimal rate of 3 percent per year.

Lord Turner added: “The 17 INDCs analysed show an increase in the use of low-carbon energy of only 0.4 percentage points per year and improvements in energy productivity by just 1.8 percent per year, far below what is required.”

“A far faster transition is needed to achieve the well below 2°C goal. We must focus not only on decarbonizing power, but also on taking the carbon out of other energy supply and dramatically increasing global energy productivity improvement. Financial and technology transfer will be necessary to enable developing nations to meet and exceed their INDCs.”

The analysis also highlights a need for enhanced global cooperation in the area of finance and technology, as one-fifth of the emissions reductions is conditional upon this support.

Poppy Allonby, Managing Director Natural Resources at BlackRock said, “Efforts to mitigate climate change will create significant investment opportunities including infrastructure, renewables, energy efficiency, and clean tech. However, there is a clear funding shortfall between the amount of money needed to meet a well below 2°C scenario and projected investment based on historic trends. It is particularly notable in the energy sector and in middle-income countries. This raises an important question: what regulatory and financial frameworks are required to encourage low-carbon investment, particularly in middle-income countries? If the correct actions are taken, developing countries have an opportunity to leapfrog the burden of pollution and build prosperous, sustainable economies today.”

Lord Turner concluded: “We hope this analysis and the ETC’s further work will help governments to improve their INDCs as part of the next global stocktake in 2018, putting us on a clear path to limit global temperature increases to well below 2°C.”

About the analysis

The ETC commissioned Ecofys to analyse the INDCs of 16 countries and one region (EU 28) that together account for 78% of global energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions today. To gather sufficient data the INDCs as well as secondary sources were used; primarily laws, programs and measures mentioned in the INDC and data developed by other organizations who have also attempted to assess the meaning and impact of these INDCs.

About The Energy Transitions Commission

The Energy Transitions Commission was convened to help identify pathways for change in our energy systems to ensure both better growth and a better climate. This is inspired by the work of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate and its flagship project the New Climate Economy. The Commissioners bring a diverse and remarkable range of viewpoints and extraordinary depth of experience. They come from across the energy spectrum, including investors, incumbent energy companies, innovators, industrial energy users, public and academic institutions and foundations, advisors, and academics from across the developed and developing world. What they share is a mission to accelerate change towards zero-carbon energy systems that enable robust economic development and limit the rise in global temperature to well below 2°C. They will do this by providing decision-makers with insights and options for action at local and/or sector level. This will stem from objective research and wide engagement with actors in the energy system.