Policy and Affairs

We can triple our emissions reduction targets by 2035

The key is to reflect the potential of low-carbon technologies in NDCs

By 2025, nearly 200 states will have to update their emission reduction targets over the next 10 years. Suppose the new national plans (National Voluntary Contributions, NDCs) complement the commitments made at COP28, the announced national policies, and the potential of commercially available low-carbon technologies. In that case, we can triple the greenhouse gas cuts compared to current levels. Today the NDCs presented in 2020 would eliminate only about 6 billion tons of CO2 (GtCO2) by 2035, but it is possible to strengthen them up to 18 GtCO2. In this way, the Planet would be able to return to a trajectory compatible with a global warming of 2°C, even if the most ambitious target of the Paris Agreement would still be missing.

Industry has rapidly increased production and implementation of clean energy technologies with political support and existing commitments. Greater ambition in the next NDC cycle at COP30 has the potential to strengthen and accelerate this positive feedback cycle. Collaboration between industry and government to engage in measurable, achievable and investable plans is key to driving action,Adair Turner, President of the Energy Transitions Commission, which recently published an analysis of the potential of the new emission reduction targets.

Emission reduction targets should reflect technological developments

One of the fundamental elements of the analysis concerns low-carbon technologies. Compared to 2020, when the latest NDCs were presented, all major solutions improved industrial capacity and cost performance. Their potential growth trajectory is higher than estimated 4 years ago. Adjusting the new NDCs to the expected growth curve today is crucial to realistically increasing climate ambition.

Solar and wind are the cornerstones. The growth projections for 2025 drawn up in 2020 were already exceeded in 2023. The same applies to the spread of electric cars. While previously immature or uncommon solutions today are scalable and cost-effective, especially in areas such as buildings, light industry, aviation and heavy transport. From heat pumps to sustainable fuels for aircraft, from low-carbon refining in the metal industry to CO2-to-methanol solutions, to the use of ammonia and methanol for the marine industry.

The report suggests three cornerstones around which the new emission reduction targets should be structured:

  • Clear and detailed roadmaps for implementation of accelerated climate action backed by strong government policy (e.g., quantitative targets for GW of renewables, phase out dates for bans on the sale of gasoline or diesel engine vehicles).
  • Measurable, comprehensive (covering all sectors and GHGs) and granular targets for emissions reductions.
  • Investable plans, especially for emerging markets, clearly stating the investment and international climate finance required to deliver stated targets.

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