2016 was a fruitful year for the U.S. team of the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP), whether measured in outreach, influence, or analytical results. In the wake of the Paris Agreement, their seminal work – Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States and Policy Implications of Deep Decarbonization in the United States – attracted the close attention of government agencies, academic institutions, national laboratories, industry groups, and nongovernmental organizations.
The U.S. team, led by Dr. Jim Williams of the SDSN, gave numerous keynote addresses at major conferences, talks at workshops and scientific meetings, and briefings organized by businesses and expert groups. A key goal of this outreach was to reposition the decarbonization dialogue away from short-term politics toward long-term planning, demonstrating the practical value of visualizing the national energy mix out to 2030 and 2050 horizons using rigorous analytical methods.
The U.S. team also presented the DDPP’s work to international audiences at the Major Economies Forum and the Clean Energy Ministerial. At the Low-Emissions Solutions Conference at COP 22, results were presented by a panel of DDPP teams from China, Russia, Canada, and Mexico, and by subnational counterparts from the Under2 MOU Coalition, organized and led by the U.S. team.
Thanks to this intense outreach, the U.S. DDPP studies strongly influenced a number of high profile reports, including the U.S. government’s Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization, released during COP 22; the Risky Business report From Risk to Return: Investing in a Clean Energy Economy; a book project, Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States, led by the Columbia University Law School, on track for publication in 2017; and a new paper on U.S. progress in implementing the Paris pledges currently under review at Nature Climate Change. Dr. Williams has been invited to join the energy task force of the American Geophysical Union, one of the largest scientific associations in the world.
Currently, the U.S. DDPP team is building on past successes and deepening its analytical work. It recently completed pathways studies for several state governments, which can serve as cornerstones for climate cooperation in the Pacific Coast and Northeast regions. Ongoing technical work includes a detailed grid study of electrification potential in the U.S., and a new initiative on land use and the terrestrial carbon sink. New studies planned for 2017 include research partnerships on the air quality and public health benefits of deep decarbonization, and on jobs, industry transitions, and public acceptance.
The new EnergyPATHWAYS model, developed by U.S. team members Ben Haley and Ryan Jones of Evolved Energy Research, offers an enhanced, open-source version of the tool used in the U.S. DDPP reports. The model currently represents the U.S. in great geographic and sectoral detail, and the groundwork has been laid to develop similar high resolution deep decarbonization pathways for other countries starting this year, in time to inform mid-century strategies in advance of the UNFCCC “global stocktake” in 2018.
The U.S. DDPP team remains poised to provide strong technical leadership to the climate community, armed with peer-reviewed analytics, a transparent approach, and a growing reputation as a leader in long-term strategic planning.