Making SA’s climate-change strategies work

28 March 2019 | Story Supplied. Photo UCT Archives. Read time 3 min.
UCT Energy Research Centre’s Prof Harald Winkler. The centre undertakes research on deep carbonisation issues in South Africa.
UCT Energy Research Centre’s Prof Harald Winkler. The centre undertakes research on deep carbonisation issues in South Africa.

Professor Harald Winkler, of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Energy Research Centre (ERC), has hailed a new framework published this week in Nature Climate Change as critical to help countries strategise towards zero emissions – without sacrificing sustainable development.

The “dashboard” is the work of the Deep Decarbonization Pathways (DDP) network, a group of research teams formed in 2014 to help countries build national long-term strategies compatible with ambitious climate objectives. Today it undertakes research in almost 40 countries.

The paper illustrates how DDP research can help stakeholders design plans – which are invited under the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015 – and implement country-led actions that are both aligned with climate science and sensitive to local conditions and development goals.

It also aims to help build public support for policies and applicable intervention measures within countries by highlighting the developmental benefits.

Winkler, who together with his colleagues at the ERC undertakes research on deep carbonisation issues in South Africa, explained that national models have a key role to play in translating national development narratives into quantifiable scenarios.

South Africa’s challenge

“The challenge in South Africa is to reduce poverty, inequality and greenhouse gas emissions, all at the same time,” he said, adding that the DDP work confirms socio-economic indicators such as poverty and unemployment as crucial issues for consideration within a national climate change plan.

 

“It shows how to build concretely, in different national contexts, strategies towards zero emissions that go hand in hand with sustainable development.”

“The ‘dashboard’ developed by the DDP network is key to identifying critical development and climate metrics, enabling aggregation across different context-sensitive national modelling tools.”

Dr Henri Waisman, who leads the DDP initiative at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) and is first author of the paper, said all the countries they analysed had demonstrated it is possible to achieve “deep decarbonisation” by 2050 – and in a way that meets each one’s socio-economic priorities.

“Based on lessons learnt from this scientific work, our paper describes our framework for pathway design, which could be widely adopted by countries developing their strategies to meet global climate goals,” he explained.

The Paris Agreement requires countries to formulate “long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies” that are consistent with global greenhouse gas emission neutrality as early as possible in the second half of the 21st century.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) co-chair Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte said the work of the DDP network complements and reinforces the assessment of the IPCC special report titled Global Warming of 1.5°C.

“It shows how to build concretely, in different national contexts, strategies towards zero emissions that go hand in hand with sustainable development,” she said.

Read the full paper.


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