CAT goes to Bonn: Getting Ready for Zero

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Paul Allen reports from the climate talks in Bonn 

On Thursday 4th June, CAT joined forces with INFORSE and Track 0 to host a side event at the UNFCCC climate conference in Bonn.  The event presented the first reviewers draft of our new report “Getting Ready for Zero: An overview of who’s working on zero carbon modelling & tool kits”, so we could get feedback and additional case studies from the very varied range of experts at the UN conference before finally going to press. The room was packed with over 100 attendees, including a range of delegates, experts and observers.


Getting Ready for Zero sets out to examine the global response to what the most recent consensus in climate science is telling us:  to stabilise our climate system and stay below the internationally agreed limit of 2ºC with high certainty, we must rapidly eliminate man-made emissions of greenhouse gases and phase-out fossil fuel use almost entirely by around mid-century. The good news is that our research has revealed a wealth of peer-reviewed and robust research showing a phase out of greenhouse gasses, especially from fossil fuels, can be achieved with existing technology. We map out over 70 scenarios at national, regional and city level and explore 27 case studies in detail. This body of work will act as a tool to support all those pressing for an outcome from the UN process, based around what the science demands, by demonstrating that we can move rapidly towards zero emissions without harming social and economic development whilst securing more equitable access to clean energy, especially for the poor.


Following my overview of the project, its aims and expected outcomes, a range of experts presented examples of the scenarios included in the report plus links to how it fits with the climate science and the UN negotiations. Key speakers included:

  • National and EU-wide transitions to 100% renewable, Gunnar Boye Olesen, INFORSE
  • Zero Carbon Britain, Philip James
  • Mitigation Action Plans and Scenarios (MAPS), Andrea Rudnick, Latin America Liaison
  • Beyond Zero Emissions Australia, Simon Richardson, Mayor of Byron Shire
  • 100% Renewable Morocco: Irene Garcia, World Future Council
  • Deep Decarbonisation Pathways Project (DDPP), Alexandra Deprez, IDDRI Research Fellow
  • Low Carbon Development in Ethiopia, Mulugeta Ayalew, Government of Ethiopia

Niklas Hohne, of the New Climate Institute offered an overview of the latest understanding of the climate science, and the presentations concluded with an overview of what does this work means for the Paris Agreement and Beyond from Jennifer Morgan, of the World Resources Institute.

There were many questions, positive feedback and comments. One of the key areas we want to iron out is definitions – a lot of the research showcased in the report has been developed independently in varied areas of the world, so terminology and definitions vary. Also delegates, business leaders, NGO’s and cities tend to use a wide range of vocabularies to talk about getting to zero. One particular concern was expressed that if the UN adopts the term ‘net-zero’ it may be miss-used to allow large-scale offsetting of burning fossil fuels as usual, a challenge which we will try to take into account in our final wording.

We hope the side event will also catalyse a network of zero carbon practice from COP21 in Paris and called upon everyone at the event to feed into the final report, due for publication in the coming weeks – so watch this space! Phil and I will remain here in Bonn for a few days longer to follow negotiations and to feed our work into a wide range of meetings and side events. We will keep you posted….

Paul Allen