Columnists: Hans Nilsson, Fourfact

Published on: 13 Dec 2016

To step out in front of a moving train

In the preparation for the climate meeting in Paris last year the national intentions (INDCs) that were submitted by countries were analysed in a report called “ Beyond the Numbers: Understanding the Transformation Induced by INDCs”, by IDDRI (Institut du développement durable et des relations internationals). One of their key findings was that “ INDCs imply an acceleration of climate action and a deviation from previous trends and policy commitments.”

Sometimes the language of scientists can make a practioner (like me) tear his hair out! But behind the “ifs” and “buts”, here expressed as “imply” and “deviation”, it looks as a train in motion – in acceleration actually! It says that when you take the process set in motion to prevent climate change by several countries at the same time, it begins to live its own life. It breeds, it inspires, it releases innovations and lust for life!

Since the report was issued we have actually seen it happen. The Paris climate accord was ratified in record time. Which implies that a majority of the countries in the world take it seriously and have jumped the moving train!

We have seen several organisations fire the boiler in this train. In particular, the IEA with the recent energy efficiency market reports and 2016 world energy outlook. But also the EU “winter package” with its slightly ramped up goal for energy efficiency improvements. Indeed we could (and should) ask for more. Curiosity and wishes are parts that drive the process.

We can understand how it works and how it moves by looking at other areas and the market learning as it shows in learning curves. The curve for decline of PV costs as the market grows is perhaps the most well known, but a recent US DOE report display similar learning curves for LED technology and wind power  (By the way, enjoy the reading – it may take four years or so until we see similar work emanate from them). This innovation is visible in several areas that relate to the climate issue. It happens every day and all around us.

So the train is moving. It will pick up speed. We will see that some want to slow down and even stop it, like the president elect in the US. Just try! Be my guest! Stepping out in front of a moving train will only hurt those who try!

Other columns by Hans Nilsson