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Kees van der Leun's Posts

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Bridging the emissions gap: How to get there from here, in 21 steps

Photo by Kyrylo Kalugin.

The "emissions gap" is the difference between "business-as-usual" greenhouse gas emissions, which continue to rise, and the level such emissions actually need to fall to in order to keep average global warming below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) -- the goal that was internationally agreed to at the Cancun climate talks in 2010.

To keep warming below that level, we'd have to have achieved a cut of 12 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. That's the gap we must bridge.

In spite of the tremendous effort by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat, negotiations to start reducing global greenhouse gas emissions are going through a difficult stretch. The negotiations have increasingly turned into “I will only accept limitations on my economy if I’m absolutely sure you will do the same for yours," obscuring the fact that many emissions reduction measures have multiple benefits. Attention is shifting to a treaty that takes effect from 2020, and the country commitments for the period 2012-2020 would close half of the gap, at the very best.

So how do we bridge this gap? There are plenty of realistic steps we can take. At least a third of them involve energy efficiency. And many of these measures have environmental and economical benefits, beyond their reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Front-running companies, cities, and individual citizens are taking climate action on their own, demonstrating that the potential and the benefits are real.

As it has become apparent in recent years that top-down approaches alone would not work, many have urged a bottom-up plan. But so far, no concrete proposals for this on a global scale have been put forward.

Our "Wedging the Gap" paper proposes such a bottom-up approach, building on all the rapid developments in technology and implementation and on the great initiatives in many places to bridge the global emissions gap.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Solar PV rapidly becoming the cheapest option to generate electricity

For a long time, the holy grail of solar photovoltaics (PV) has been "grid parity," the point at which it would be as cheap to generate one's own solar electricity as it is to buy electricity from the grid. And that is indeed an important market milestone, being achieved now in many places around the world. But recently it has become clear that PV is set to go beyond grid parity and become the cheapest way to generate electricity. Whenever I say this I encounter incredulity, even vehement opposition, from friends and foes of renewable energy alike. Apparently, knowledge of …

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How to get to 100 percent renewables globally by 2050

There are many reasons to move to a sustainable energy system: fossil fuel supplies getting tighter, easy oil increasingly having to be replaced by uneasy oil, accelerating climate change. And most indications are that we'll have to go there as soon as possible. But is it possible? And when? At Ecofys, we've been working for 25 years on our mission: "a sustainable energy supply for everyone." Two years ago, we figured it was about time to bring all our experts together to find out whether that really makes sense. Excited by our first findings, we found WWF willing to commission …

Read more: Climate & Energy