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HerbEppel's picture

Post Carbon Pathways project

I would like to bring to your attention the recently published report
'Post Carbon Pathways: Reviewing Post Carbon Economy Transition
Strategies' available for download at
http://www.postcarbonpathways.net.au/ and
http://cpd.org.au/2012/03/post-carbon-pathways/

The report (published by the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute,
University of Melbourne and the Centre for Policy Development) aims to
provide a concise overview of learning from eighteen of the most
comprehensive and innovative large-scale post carbon economy transition
strategies.

The Report is the first stage in an ongoing Post Carbon Pathways project
designed to strengthen understanding of the most effective ways of
overcoming barriers to the rapid implementation of post carbon economy
transition strategies – with an emphasis on plans pitched at the speed
and scale capable of having some real chance of reducing the risk of
runaway climate change. We would therefore value and welcome
conversation with other researchers ad policy makers working on these
issues.

Key Messages from the report include the following.

1. Around the world, detailed policy and research initiatives are
demonstrating that a rapid transition to a post carbon economy is both
technologically and economically feasible. However, the latest climate
science shows that the window for effective action is rapidly closing.
Strategies to reduce emissions at the required scale and speed will need
to be implemented in the next five to ten years if they are to
significantly reduce the risk of runaway climate change.
2. A fair and swift transition to a sustainable post carbon economy will
require:
• rapid reductions in energy consumption and improvements in energy
efficiency
• rapid replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy
• the drawdown and sequestration of carbon into sustainable carbon sinks
• game changing investment in social and technological innovation
• economic policies which recognise the full costs of failing to reduce
emissions and of the multiple co-benefits of the transition program
• a significant shift towards economic paradigms and priorities which
focus on improving social and ecological wellbeing rather than
unconstrained growth in material consumption.
3. The difficulty of securing and sustaining broad social and political
support is widely recognised as the greatest barrier to a swift
transition to a post carbon economy. The lack of detailed game plans for
mobilising the required level of political leadership and public support
is the most significant gap in post carbon economy transition strategies.
4. The crucial difference between transition strategies that advocate a
pragmatic and evolutionary approach and those that advocate more rapid
and transformational change highlights two challenging and urgent questions:
• For less ambitious plans and strategies (generally government-led):
Given that the proposed actions do not match the physical requirements
of action needed to prevent runaway climate change, what can be done to
bridge this gap?
• For more ambitious plans and strategies (generally non-government
authored): Given that political and social support for the rapid
implementation of these proposals remains challenging, what can be done
to bridge this gap?
5. A rapid transition to a post carbon economy will require strong
leadership by national and local governments in setting and achieving
clear long term emissions reduction targets, combined with broad
grassroots mobilisation and enhanced global cooperation. It will be
crucial to develop and communicate inspiring stories of a just and
sustainable post carbon future.
6. Key policy and research priorities include further clarification and
communication of scientifically informed knowledge on:
• the scale and speed of the global, national and local emissions
reductions required to significantly reduce the risk of runaway climate
change
• the most effective strategies for encouraging, sharing and deploying
large-scale technological and social innovation
• robust, transparent methodologies for calculating the net costs of
large-scale transition strategies and fair mechanisms for mobilising the
necessary resources
• political, social and cultural change strategies that could lead to
rapid implementation of the policies needed to drive a swift transition
to a post carbon economy.