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The need for national deep decarbonization pathways for effective climate policy


  • Chris Bataille
  • Henri Waisman
  • Michel Colombier
  • Laura Segafredo
  • Jim Williams
  • Frank Jotzo


Constraining global average temperatures to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels will probably require global energy system emissions to be halved by 2050 and complete decarbonization by 2100. In the nationally orientated climate policy framework codified under the Paris Agreement, each nation must decide the scale and method of their emissions reduction contribution while remaining consistent with the global carbon budget. This policy process will require engagement amongst a wide range of stakeholders who have very different visions for the physical implementation of deep decarbonization. The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) has developed a methodology, building on the energy, climate and economics literature, to structure these debates based on the following principles: country-scale analysis to capture specific physical, economic and political circumstances to maximize policy relevance, a long-term perspective to harmonize short-term decisions with the long-term objective and detailed sectoral analysis with transparent representation of emissions drivers through a common accounting framework or ‘dashboard’. These principles are operationalized in the creation of deep decarbonization pathways (DDPs), which involve technically detailed, sector-by-sector maps of each country’s decarbonization transition, backcasting feasible pathways from 2050 end points. This article shows how the sixteen DDPP country teams, covering 74% of global energy system emissions, used this method to collectively restrain emissions to a level consistent with the 2 °C target while maintaining development aspirations and reflecting national circumstances, mainly through efficiency, decarbonization of energy carriers (e.g. electricity, hydrogen, biofuels and synthetic gas) and switching to these carriers. The cross-cutting analysis of country scenarios reveals important enabling conditions for the transformation, pertaining to technology research and development, investment, trade and global and national policies. Policy relevance In the nation-focused global climate policy framework codified in the Paris Agreement, the purpose of the DDPP and DDPs is to provide a common method by which global and national governments, business, civil society and researchers in each country can communicate, compare and debate differing concrete visions for deep decarbonization in order to underpin the necessary societal and political consensus to design and implement short-term policy packages that are consistent with long-term global decarbonization.

Suggested Citation

  • Chris Bataille & Henri Waisman & Michel Colombier & Laura Segafredo & Jim Williams & Frank Jotzo, 2016. "The need for national deep decarbonization pathways for effective climate policy," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(sup1), pages 7-26, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:tcpoxx:v:16:y:2016:i:sup1:p:s7-s26
    DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2016.1173005

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    1. Jochen Markard & Daniel Rosenbloom, 2020. "Politics of low-carbon transitions: The European Emissions Trading System as a Trojan Horse for climate policy?," Working Papers on Innovation Studies 20200116, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo.
    2. Fankhauser, Samuel & Jotzo, Frank, 2017. "Economic growth and development with low-carbon energy," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86850, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Li, Francis G.N. & Bataille, Chris & Pye, Steve & O'Sullivan, Aidan, 2019. "Prospects for energy economy modelling with big data: Hype, eliminating blind spots, or revolutionising the state of the art?," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 239(C), pages 991-1002.
    4. Adrien Vogt‐Schilb & Stephane Hallegatte, 2017. "Climate policies and nationally determined contributions: reconciling the needed ambition with the political economy," Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(6), November.
    5. Fragkos, Panagiotis & Kouvaritakis, Nikos, 2018. "Model-based analysis of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions and 2 °C pathways for major economies," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 160(C), pages 965-978.
    6. Audoly, Richard & Vogt-Schilb, Adrien & Guivarch, Céline & Pfeiffer, Alexander, 2018. "Pathways toward zero-carbon electricity required for climate stabilization," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 225(C), pages 884-901.
    7. Jacek Brożyna & Wadim Strielkowski & Alena Fomina & Natalya Nikitina, 2020. "Renewable Energy and EU 2020 Target for Energy Efficiency in the Czech Republic and Slovakia," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 13(4), pages 1-20, February.
    8. Alexander R. Barron & Allen A. Fawcett & Marc A. C. Hafstead & James R. Mcfarland & Adele C. Morris, 2018. "Policy Insights From The Emf 32 Study On U.S. Carbon Tax Scenarios," Climate Change Economics (CCE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 9(01), pages 1-47, February.
    9. Spencer, Thomas & Pierfederici, Roberta & Sartor, Oliver & Berghmans, Nicolas & Samadi, Sascha & Fischedick, Manfred & Knoop, Katharina & Pye, Steve & Criqui, Patrick & Mathy, Sandrine & Capros, Pante, 2017. "Tracking sectoral progress in the deep decarbonisation of energy systems in Europe," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 509-517.
    10. Chowdhury, Jahedul Islam & Hu, Yukun & Haltas, Ismail & Balta-Ozkan, Nazmiye & Matthew, George Jr. & Varga, Liz, 2018. "Reducing industrial energy demand in the UK: A review of energy efficiency technologies and energy saving potential in selected sectors," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 1153-1178.
    11. Jing Wu & Guan Kaixuan & Qianting Zhu & Wang Zheng & Yuanhua Chang & Xiong Wen, 2019. "An Analysis of the Emission Reduction Targets of “Belt and Road” Countries Based on Their NDC Reports," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(24), pages 1-19, December.
    12. Harjanne, Atte & Korhonen, Janne M., 2019. "Abandoning the concept of renewable energy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 330-340.
    13. Goh, Tian & Ang, B.W. & Xu, X.Y., 2018. "Quantifying drivers of CO2 emissions from electricity generation – Current practices and future extensions," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 231(C), pages 1191-1204.
    14. Ang, B.W. & Goh, Tian, 2019. "Index decomposition analysis for comparing emission scenarios: Applications and challenges," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 74-87.
    15. Goh, Tian & Ang, B.W., 2018. "Quantifying CO2 emission reductions from renewables and nuclear energy – Some paradoxes," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 651-662.
    16. Frédéric Babonneau & Philippe Thalmann & Marc Vielle, 2018. "Defining deep decarbonization pathways for Switzerland: an economic evaluation," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(1), pages 1-13, January.

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