Who’s getting ready for zero in Paris?

Paul Allen, Zero Carbon Britain

As I am writing this, it is Wednesday morning and after arguing down a four-years-in-the-making draft agreement to 48 pages over the past week and a half, today is the day the conference negotiators aim to reach a final agreement to be signed by more than 190 parties on Thursday and Friday. The current draft contains more than 900 square brackets, which are used to identify disagreements, clearly there are major issues that need to be decided, but there are rays of hope.

Firstly, there was clear commitment from leaders at the opening of the conference, as the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon soberly reminded us

"A week ago, 150 world leaders stood here and pledged their full support for a robust global climate agreement that is equal to the test we face." "Never before have so many Heads of State and Government gathered in one place at one time with one common purpose."

Another ray of hope came with the new collective solidarity being shown between both developed and developing countries, as the European Union formed an alliance with 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to make a final collaborative push for a meaningful agreement. The EU has also agreed to pay 475 million euros to support climate action in the partner countries up to 2020. Such a new alliance will also include a "transparency and accountability system" to track progress, plus a commitment to share best practice.

Many feel this new alliance is a powerful ray of light, increasing the chances of a zero emissions based deal. So we are here to share our work, both inside and outside the main UN negotiating hall to demonstrate that we know we can! The new ‘Who’s Getting Ready for Zero’ report offers robust scenarios from across the globe that clearly demonstrate that we can reach zero emissions with existing technologies.

Who’s getting ready for Zero?

Developed with our partners Track0, the ‘Who’s Getting Ready for Zero’ report builds on Zero Carbon Britain research to bring together over 100 scenarios, models and practical real life projects from across the globe that demonstrate how we can reach low or zero emissions the second half of the century with existing technology and without harming social or economic development. It features 27 of the most powerful examples in more detail to showcase work occurring in developed and developing countries, covering both low as well as full decarbonisation scenarios. The report offers web-links to all the scenarios plus key conclusions and analysis ­ to increase ambition for an agreement in Paris that meets the demands of the science.

Making it happen!

Changing how millions of people live is a very special kind of problem - with barriers on many different levels. Overcoming them requires a new approach joining up research and practices across disciplines, borders, sectors and scales. The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT)’s new research programme is aimed at opening up new positive conversations around the practical solutions and how we actually make them happen.

So, in the wake of Paris, to help raise ambition, we will be building dialogues with researchers working in economics, psychology, sociology, history, politics and other social sciences, as well as in arts, the media and culture. We also want to include insights from those working practically on the ground: community organisations delivering renewable energy, energy efficiency, transport, sustainable food projects, and more.

No single discipline has all the answers to this multi­dimensional, profound, global problem but each of them has something valuable to contribute. We have found exciting research in the social sciences and humanities suggesting that we have more agency and potential for collective action than we think. Ultimately we need collaboration across all disciplines and at all levels if we are to offer the best chance of solving the gravest threat humanity has ever faced.

To open new conversations in and around Paris we have pulled together our initial findings from this research, set people thinking and encouraged experts, researchers and practitioners to get involved. Only one month into a year­long project, we have reviewed only a fraction of the large body of relevant studies but we hope this can give a flavour of some of the thinking within each discipline and prompt both researchers and practitioners to get in touch with comments and ideas.

Although the route out of this impasse seems difficult, we also know that systemic change has been happening and pressure for it to accelerate is building.


Download a copy of both reports from http://zerocarbonbritain.org/

To find out more about the Zero Carbon Britain project sign up for our short course 28th-30th April 2016. Also please share with your colleagues, friends and any others that are keen to engage.