#COP21: the importance of emissions reduction targets

Published on Tuesday, 15 December 2015

At COP21, the UN climate conference that recently ended, governments of countries around the world met in Paris with the aim of signing a multi-lateral agreement to fight global warming. Unlike the Kyoto conference, this time countries like the USA and China, as well as large companies like Enel, came to the table to discuss greenhouse gas emissions targets.

In view of ensuring the broadest participation in the global effort, the COP21 draft agreement enables each government to automatically choose how and to what extent they will reduce climate-changing emissions. 186 nations have submitted voluntary commitments to be included in the Paris agreement, formally known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). Due to the substantive discretion granted to individual countries, the INDCs presented so far differ widely, so that it’s not possible to immediately evaluate the expected global emissions roadmap and compare the efforts underlying different countries’ commitments.

On December 9, in the Blue Zone within the COP21 Climate Generation area, an event organised by Enel Foundation in a partnership with the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements involved a workshop specifically aimed at comparing the various INDCs. On this occasion reduction targets were compared, the available tools were examined and the importance of transparency to facilitating periodic monitoring was analysed, as were the implications of this approach for companies and investors.

Enel’s Head of European Affairs Simone Mori, one of the speakers, underlined that ‘It’s very important that conditions to speed up investments should be strengthened as much as possible. Private sector capital plays an essential role in decarbonisation. Harvard University has conducted a study aimed at understanding which form of governance will give greatest stability and credibility to domestic programmes aimed at fighting climate change, these being essential conditions for the effective mobilisation of investments’.

Other participants were the International Emissions Trading Association International Policy Director Jeff Swartz, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements Director Robert N. Stavins, the Italian Ambassador to France Giandomenico Magliano and the Italian Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti.  “Italy is asked to make an ambitious commitment, both in terms of mobilisation of resources and common targets”, Galletti underlined. ‘Today 43% of the country’s electricity comes from green sources and not everyone is aware that for entire days the electric grid is exclusively fed by renewables. Zero-emissions energy generation is key to fighting climate change’, the Minister concluded.