Policy brief: Climate projections are anyone’s guess

By Claire Roumet on 9 November 2017

A new climate summit and a new report, alarmist as always: 3 degrees if we maintain the current trajectory, the States are not delivering on their commitments….

The figures are saying something but what are they telling us? If we find it hard to grasp their meaning, should we not find another way to express them? Any good lobbyist knows how to produce graphics highlighting three or four powerful key figures that will make an impression on already overburdened minds: evidence of the positive impact on jobs, of the burden on health, of the contribution and influence of cities, as a way of justifying a future role.

Going beyond a purely technical balance-sheet approach

Yes, being aware of the planet’s trajectory is needed to make the right political decisions, but do to so the discussions must go beyond a purely technical balance-sheet approach (of who has consumed what).
At the European level, the fierce debates about the proposed regulation on governance of the Energy Union (See out latest news What’s EUp) are focussing on the numbers and when the calculations should start rather than on mobilising players and resources so as to engage the whole of European society in the transition process.

For the Covenant of Mayors, the discussions about how to merge local energy and climate commitments into a joint initiative (shared by the Compact and the Covenant) are also focussing on the obligation on cities to count… To what end exactly? This question is never asked. To compare, weigh out, make projections… however, when asked about what they need, as we did at our last Board meeting, the Mayors ask for examples of partnerships between cities, local areas, regions and States. What they want is a role in the future energy system governance, not Excel files. They design their climate plans, assess their implementation, adapt them (like the new Paris plan that will be published in late November) and measure what they need to decide on new policies and what is useful for their local areas. The more experience they have (completing their 2nd or 3rd plan), the more closely the measures they take meet their needs.

Cities do not have access to the same data and their starting points and potentials are so dependent on the local context that comparing them often proves impossible.

Monitoring needs to go hand in hand with partnerships

Measuring local potentials in terms of renewable production and energy demand reduction can be useful if it is integrated into regional and national energy planning and if it helps local decision-making. This is why the EU Convenant of Mayors will put forward the proposal that it should become a tool for implementing national contributions at the COP 23 in Bonn. And rather than making projections that always fall short of the reality, the European Mayors will launch a partnership with the innovators supported by the Solar Impulse foundation.

Action and policies can be supported by figures, but numbers alone say nothing.

by Claire Roumet, Executive Director of Energy Cities

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Vilvoorde Belgium | Wien Austria | Krizevci Croatia | Sustainable City Network (GR) Greece | CEDEF-Central European Development Forum (RS) Serbia
Events to come
Capacity-building workshop - Providing energy retrofit packages to private homeowners – business models and project implementation
Wednesday 19 June

10 years of ELENA - Supporting investments in energy efficiency and sustainable transport
Thursday 20 June 15:30-18:30

Designing smart and efficient energy policies with citizens
Friday 21 June 13:30-16:30

Rénovation énergétique des bâtiments et ensembles d’immeubles - Voyage d’étude, région de Lille
From 25 to 26 June

GMF’s Brussels Forum
From 27 to 29 June

LIFE PlanUp webinar: Involving stakeholders and the public in national energy and climate planning - good practices from across Europe
Thursday 27 June 10:00-11:30

All coming events >>
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