The Race to Peak Emissions and What it Says about Climate Progress

One of the most contentious issues debated at COP21 over the past two weeks was the disparate levels of emissions released by developed and developing countries. Emerging economies have traditionally struggled to secure finance opportunities needed to transition to renewables, and developed countries have been reluctant to offer meaningful support. Countries trying to develop their economies have therefore done so through the use of cheaper, and often more accessible fossil fuels.

However, things are beginning to change, and transitions to cleaner energy are coming quicker than many had expected. The reasons for this are many. For one, financing for transitioning and investing in renewables is more available than ever, and was even embedded in the Paris agreement. Also, and perhaps even more importantly, the cost of clean energy has been dropping significantly. What was once cost prohibitive, has now become a solid investment. These factors, combined with an emboldened political will to act on climate have led many experts to believe that bold climate action may become the new norm.

The lessons to be learned from this transition are directly applicable here in the US. Cities, states, and local governments across the country have varying interests, economies, and access to resources. There is often greater emphasis on maintaining the status quo rather than transitioning to what may seem like new and risky investments. However, more and more programs and opportunities are being made available for financing clean energy projects. Cities are cooperating to invest in regional power agreements. Also, prices for new technologies are falling, making solar, wind, and other clean energy sources more accessible.

Connect with other city leaders to find out how to power, and empower, your community. Check out the great resources at Path to Positive Communities, and see how you can join with others to implement new climate solutions.

Critical mass of states will reach emissions peak by 2030 under climate deal

By Pamela Duncan | The Guardian | December 13, 2015

Commitments made during the UN climate talks in Paris will lead to a critical mass of countries reaching their CO2 emission peaks by 2030, research by an environmental thinktank suggests.

Until recently a country’s CO2 emissions rates rose inexorably alongside economic growth, but improved energy efficiency and increased use of clean energy have led to the two rates beginning to decouple, with emissions peaking and even beginning to drop as economies continue to grow.

Data produced by the World Resources Institute indicates that, by 2030, more than half the greenhouse gases emitted globally will be produced by countries that have reached or passed their peak emission levels (calculated as a proportion of 2012 levels).

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