Living mitigation: transparency for a low carbon economy

Published on Thursday, 17 November 2016

At COP22, the Enel Foundation and the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements explained how non-party stakeholders (companies, NGOs, universities, research organizations) can help governments to effectively meet the Paris targets.

Measuring, evaluating, refining. The tailor, in order to make the perfect suit, worthy of even the highest ranking officials, requires knowledge of fabrics, patterns, and yarns. Full mastery of the craft is necessary, as is the ability to continually update working methods, tools and knowledge. Then their effectiveness has to be checked.
Put simply, this is the meaning of the initiative promoted by Harvard University with the support of the Enel Foundation, to enhance the contribution of non-party stakeholders in reaching the goals of the Paris agreement. Non-party stakeholders are all those non-institutional entities – from large corporations to small and medium enterprises, NGOs, universities and research bodies – who can make available experiences, knowledge and methodologies to help governments implement the commitments they have undertaken under the Paris agreement (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution-INDC).

The project objectives were presented on November 16 at a side event of the 2016 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Marrakech, Morocco. "The Paris Agreement's Transparency Framework: A Building Block for Enhanced Mitigation," was hosted at the pavilion of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA).

The event offered an opportunity to present the contents of "Living Mitigation Plans: The Co-Evolution of Mitigation Pledge and Review," a paper drawn up by Joseph Aldy, Associate Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and former Special Assistant for Energy and Environment (reporting through both the National Economic Council and the Office of Energy and Climate Change) to US President Barack Obama, jointly with the Enel Foundation, which proposes a number of policy recommendations for governments and stakeholders. The document aims to build a shared, constantly updated, clear and transparent system of criteria and targets, in order to identify the necessary tools not only to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, but also to evaluate the effectiveness of the action taken and how to improve it.
In other words, the paper offers a work method that makes it possible to seize the opportunities in all sectors offered by the Paris agreement to accelerate the transition to a decarbonised and more sustainable economy.

Living Mitigation Plans, said Daniele Agostini, Head of Low Carbon and European Energy Policies at Enel, speaking at the event, "is an important opportunity to promote the exchange of information and best practices, thus enabling governments to dynamically review and update their INDC. This would grant greater stability to political action, help companies address their investments in the medium and long term, increase transparency in the management process of the climate action plans and strengthen the responsibility of all stakeholders in achieving the objectives that have been set."

The main objective of this roadmap is the reduction of fossil fuel usage in industrial and manufacturing activities, regarding which the energy business plays a particularly prominent role. For the energy sector, the key criteria that should guide investors in assessing the future respect of the commitments made with the INDC regard the ability of companies to abandon traditional business assets for innovative and low-carbon technologies and the completeness of CO2 emissions reduction strategies in power generation, as well as promoting the upgrading of regulations into national legislation and focusing on areas considered as priorities such as the spread of renewable energy, promoting efficient energy consumption and a new sustainable transportation model, whose starting point is electric mobility.

This is why the Living Mitigation Plans will lay the foundations for a transparent and cross-cutting mechanism to enable comparing and identifying the most effective mitigation actions undertaken by different countries, identifying and updating the metrics, in order to evaluate the action of governments and all stakeholders involved. This will enable the promotion of effective policies and the development of innovative mitigation and global warming fighting approaches, also in view of the upcoming updated 2018 INDCs.