6 potential energy breakthroughs at the Glasgow climate summit

A lot of the information popping out of the U.N. climate convention has centered on the spectacle, and the way nations’ pledges aren’t on track to stop harmful climate change. However behind the scenes, there may be purpose for hope.

In lots of nations, the energy transition is already underway as falling prices make renewable energy ubiquitous and more affordable than fossil fuels. A rising variety of world leaders agreed at the climate summit to reduce methane emissions and intention for net-zero emissions.

The problem for presidency officers now is determining the right way to assist scale up clear energy dramatically whereas decreasing fossil gas emissions, and nonetheless assembly the rapidly growing energy demands of billions of individuals in creating and rising economies. With an ongoing energy crisis creating shortages and document excessive costs in a number of nations, navigating this early stage of the energy transition requires considerate insurance policies and well-prioritized plans.


As climate policy experts with a long time of expertise in worldwide energy coverage, we recognized six strategic priorities that would assist nations navigate this tough terrain.

1: Deploy carbon pricing and markets extra broadly

Only some countries, states, and regions currently have a carbon price that’s excessive sufficient to push polluters to chop their emissions.

A worth on carbon, typically created by way of a tax or carbon market system, captures the price of harms brought on by greenhouse fuel emissions that corporations don’t at present pay for, equivalent to climate change, injury to crops, and rising healthcare prices. It’s notably crucial for energy manufacturing and energy-intensive industries.

One purpose of the Glasgow negotiations is to put in writing guidelines to assist carbon markets operate properly and transparently. That’s important for successfully assembly the many net-zero climate targets which were introduced by nations from Japan and South Korea to the U.S., China, and those in the European Union. It consists of guidelines on the use of carbon offsets, which permit people or corporations to put money into tasks elsewhere to offset their very own emissions. Carbon offsets are at present highly contentious and never delivering reliable emissions credit.

2: Focus consideration on the hard-to-decarbonize sectors

Transport, highway freight, and industries like aluminum, cement, and metal are all difficult places for cutting emissions, partly as a result of they don’t but have examined, inexpensive replacements for fossil fuels. Whereas there are some innovative ideas, competitiveness considerations—equivalent to corporations shifting manufacturing out of the nation to keep away from regulation—have been a key barrier to progress.

Europe is making an attempt to beat this barrier by establishing a carbon border adjustment mechanism, which might tax imports of products that didn’t face the identical stage of carbon taxes at residence.


The US and the European Union additionally introduced at the summit that they might work to barter a worldwide settlement to reduce the high emissions in steel production.

3: Get China and different rising economies on board

It’s clear that coal, the most carbon-intensive fossil gas, must be phased out quick, and doing so is crucial to each the U.N.’s energy and climate agendas. Provided that greater than half of global coal is consumed in China, its actions stand out, though different rising economies equivalent to India, Indonesia, and Vietnam are additionally crucial.

This won’t be simple. Notably half of the Chinese coal plants are less than a decade old, a fraction of a coal plant’s typical life span. China has raised its climate commitments, together with pledging to succeed in net-zero emissions by 2060 and agreeing to end financing of coal power plants in other countries, however its current pathway won’t yield substantial reductions this decade.

A serious announcement by India’s prime minister at the COP around a net-zero goal for his nation by 2070, with interim targets for ratcheting down emissions earlier than then, is an early win.

4: Give attention to innovation

Assist for innovation has introduced cutting-edge renewable energy and electrical autos a lot sooner than anticipated. Extra is feasible. For instance, offshore wind, geothermal, carbon seize, and (*6*) are new developments that may make a giant distinction in years to come back.

At the climate convention, a coalition of world leaders launched what they name the “Breakthrough Agenda,” a framework for bringing governments and companies collectively to collaborate on clear energy and expertise. The Glasgow Breakthroughs embody making electrical autos the inexpensive norm, bringing down clean energy costs, scaling up hydrogen energy storage, and getting metal manufacturing to near-zero emissions, all by 2030.

The nations and corporations that lead in creating these new applied sciences will reap financial advantages, together with jobs and financial progress. Extra alternatives exist in market design, social acceptance, equity, regulatory frameworks, and business models. Energy programs are deeply interconnected to social points, so altering them shall be profitable provided that the options look past the expertise to societal wants.

5: Prioritize inexperienced financing

Greater than 160 banks and funding teams are concerned in one other coalition that has agreed to put pressure on high-emissions industries by tying lending selections to the purpose of worldwide net-zero emissions by 2050.

Ramping up inexperienced financing would require clear taxonomies, or pointers, for outlining inexperienced and clear investments; science-based transition plans for corporations and monetary establishments; and a tough look at portfolios of monetary establishments given the threat of considerable stranded fossil gas property, equivalent to coal energy crops that haven’t reached the finish of their life spans however can not be used.

Assembly the transition funding needs of developing economies must be a excessive precedence.

6: Cut back short-lived greenhouse gases

The Biden administration announced a sweeping set of rules on November 2 for decreasing emissions of methane, a greenhouse fuel many occasions stronger than carbon dioxide, that comes from leaking oil and fuel infrastructure, coal mines, agriculture, and landfills. Methane doesn’t keep in the environment as lengthy, so stopping emissions can have sooner climate advantages whereas carbon emissions are lowered.


The U.S. and the EU additionally launched a brand new international pledge to cut methane emissions by nearly one-third by 2030. Greater than 100 nations have signed on. This kind of coalition, based mostly on a tightly centered challenge, can carry significant emissions reductions in locations which might be much less more likely to help broader climate agreements.

Not one resolution

It’s doubtless that U.N. energy and climate deliberations will proceed to maneuver in suits and begins. The actual work must happen at a extra sensible implementation stage, equivalent to in states, provinces, and municipalities.

This story is a part of The Dialog’s protection of COP26, the Glasgow climate convention, by specialists from round the world.

Amid a rising tide of climate information and tales, The Dialog is right here to clear the air and ensure you get data you possibly can belief. Read more of The Conversation’s U.S. and global coverage.