Breaking away from the path dependency

(EurActiv, 8 Jun 2020) Many of the structural causes of greenhouse gas emissions have not been affected by the lockdown measures imposed to fight the coronavirus, write Bertrand Piccard, Claude Turmes, and several other authors who put forward 12 proposals for the post-crisis period.

  • Bertrand Piccard is the initiator behind Solar Impulse, the very first airplane capable of flying perpetually without fuel
  • Claude Turmes is Minister for Energy and Spatial Planning of Luxembourg
  • François Gemenne is a lecturer in environmental geopolitics at various universities, including Sciences Po Paris, Sciences Po Grenoble, and the Free University of Brussels (Belgium)
  • Eric Scotto is CEO and cofounder of Akuo Energy
  • Sandrine Dixson-Declève is President of the Club of Rome and Senior Advisor to the Energy Transitions Commission

The International Energy Agency projects that greenhouse gas emissions will be down 8% in 2020, bringing us back to the level of ca. 2010. If one sees the glass as half full, this means that we will be, for the first time in recent history, on track to meet the most ambitious objectives of the Paris Agreement.

If one is to see the glass half empty, this also means that halting most transport and much of our economic activity across the world will only achieve a limited drop in greenhouse gas emissions. Many of the structural causes of GHG emissions have not been affected by the lockdown – most modes of transport ae still dependent on oil, and deforestation has not stopped, to name just two notable examples.

We currently stand at a bifurcation – while much of the economic system is at a standstill, the crisis offers an opportunity to break away from our current path dependency. Recent announcements that the Green Deal will remain at the heart of Europe’s recovery efforts is a strong indicator that the political will exists. Ensuring that activities that run counter to the environmental objectives will not be eligible to receive funding shows a coherence and decisiveness all too often lacking in such decisions.

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EurActiv, 8 Jun 2020: Breaking away from the path dependency