Press releases

Wedging the Gap!

Published: 18/06/2012

Ecofys targets ‘wedging’ the global greenhouse gas emissions gap with 21 effective major initiatives

Utrecht, Netherlands/Cologne, Germany, 17 June 2012 – Twenty-one major initiatives proposed by Ecofys could collectively stimulate reductions of about 10 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Gt CO2e) closing the global greenhouse gas emissions gap by 2020. This new approach would reach far beyond current emission reductions proposed by national governments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It would also contribute substantially towards bridging the gap between current emission trends and what is necessary to limit global temperature increase to 2 °C above preindustrial levels.

The ‘wedging-the-gap’ approach proposes combining 21 major global initiatives involving collaboration between a variety of self-motivated actors, such as individual citizens, cities, large companies and governments. All initiatives build on actions that frontrunners, and their organizations, are already undertaking. Many of the initiatives generate significant ‘green growth’ benefits, stimulating economic development based on environmentally sound solutions and providing additional motivation to engage. Examples include:

An association such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development could lead 30 % of the top 1,000 global companies to reduce energy-related emissions by 10 % below business as usual by 2020 and all companies to reduce their non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions by 50 %. The impact by 2020 would be up to 0.7 Gt CO2e.

Groups such as the C40 or ‘ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability’ could lead the 40 cities in C40, or an equivalent sample, to reduce emissions 20 % below business as usual by 2020, building on the thousands of emission reduction activities already implemented by the C40 cities. Impact by 2020 would be up to 0.7 Gt CO2e.

“While actions taken by individuals, municipalities or even large multinationals may be considered ‘a drop in the ocean’,” says Kees van der Leun, COO at Ecofys, “I’m convinced that working together in a larger coalition, that can make a meaningful contribution on the global scale, would serve as a catalyst. This in turn would support implementation and would strengthen the pledges for which national governments remain responsible. Leading business organisations, governments and NGOs would have to participate, form and sustain the coalition: it is the key to the success of the ‘wedging-the-gap’ approach.”

Reflecting on the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report which shows an emissions gap of some 12 Gt CO2e between business-as-usual developments and pathways compatible with a maximum temperature rise of 2 °C by 2020, Dr. Niklas Höhne, Director of Energy and Climate Policy at Ecofys, explains: “In view of the dynamics of the international climate negotiations in the past ten years, it seems unlikely that countries will fast-track their ambitions to reach this goal without any positive external input.”

To ‘wedge-the-gap’, Prof. Kornelis Blok, Director of Science at Ecofys, outlines four requirements for each of the 21 initiatives: 1) there is a concrete starting point for significant up-scaling until 2020, 2) there are significant additional benefits over and above reduced greenhouse gas emissions, 3) there are organisations able to lead the initiative, and 4), the initiative can potentially reduce emissions in the order of 0.5 Gt CO2e by 2020. Together, the initiatives could thus stimulate reductions of about 10 Gt CO2e.

Ecofys will further introduce the ‘wedging-the-gap’ approach in the current issue of the Journal ‘Nature Climate Change’. The full article can be downloaded from Nature Climate Change.

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Ecofys – Experts in Energy

Established in 1984 with the vision of achieving “sustainable energy for everyone”, Ecofys has become the leading expert in renewable energy, energy & carbon efficiency, energy systems & markets as well as energy & climate policies. The unique synergy between these areas of expertise is the key to the company’s success. Ecofys creates smart, effective, practical and sustainable solutions for – and together with – public and corporate clients all over the world. With offices in the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, China and the US, Ecofys employs over 250 experts who are dedicated to tackling energy and climate challenges.

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