A Scan of Critical World Developments
The UN’s Shallow Decarbonization Pathways
Last week, the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, an initiative of the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network, released a report in preparation for the September 23 meeting on climate change called by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The report charts pathways to low carbon emissions futures for 15 countries with an eye to keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. Many of the pathways include nuclear power for electric generation and carbon storage and sequestration (CCS) technologies, both of which experience shows are likely to be very expensive and have significant environmental impacts. The report fails to provide a comprehensive approach to mitigation because it takes policies to lower population and GDP growth off the table at the start. The report’s narrow scope and undue technological optimism highlight the need for broader and more systemic thinking characteristic of a Great Transition vision. In light of the urgency of the situation, these “deep” decarbonization pathways look dangerously shallow.