Decarbonization has become the word most synonymous with the climate movement and perhaps for good reason.
As highlighted in our prior excerpt, carbon emissions reductions should not be thought of as the only ambition. However, considering today is Decarbonization Day at COP27, it seems apt to look at the term a little closer and explore how a shift in our perception of decarbonization from endpoint to, instead, enabler will help to diversify global approach and optimise potential outcomes.
Climate change mitigation is essential to the long-term health of our planet; therefore, it stands to reason that decarbonization (as the primary engine to limiting global temperature rise) needs to be thought of as a mandatory public service. This idea is further reinforced when we consider the biodiversity conservation, ecosystem maintenance, livelihood and societal health elements provided on top of any ‘Net-Zero’ contributions.
In recent years, the private sector has latched on to this concept very proactively with various advisory firms and strategy consultants offering their own versions of Decarbonization-as-a-Service. By combining existing technology, emissions and supply-chain expertise, these companies have been able to leverage a serviceable product that actively helps to decarbonize value chains.
The approach is eminently scalable and would benefit from being adopted at a more macro-level; one that allocates appropriate fiscal reward and support for working responsibly and ultimately accelerating the transition towards low-emissions, climate-resilient pathways. Most importantly, employing decarbonization strategy across sectors of industry, while utilizing both market & nature-based solutions, will help to establish a level of cohesion and ordered accountability that is missing from a presently fragmented endeavor driven mostly by the private sector.
Collective action embedded in a consolidated decarbonization strategy is necessary for our global economy to prioritise an equitable green transition. All data currently indicates two opposing truths; that the industrial sector is a vital source of wealth, prosperity & social value on a global scale and that global industry contributes to more than a quarter of total direct GHG emissions. Once coupled with the intrinsic dependence our global economy has on the natural world, we can establish a clear picture of what a stable, decarbonized economy will require:
- Improved Energy Efficiency
- Renewable Energy Transition
- A strong Rural Economy
This is where commissioning decarbonization-as-a-public service will make the most sense. Collective governmental action in this direction will catalyse a significant economic transformation that will make certain industries obsolete (namely fossil fuels, intensive agriculture, etc.), greatly diminishing GHG emissions in the process and giving rise to more sustainable alternatives that will be underpinned by energy efficiency, the transition to renewables and the fair valuation of our natural world.
Estimates suggest that by pursuing a High-Electrification, High-Renewables economic scenario more than 10 million new jobs will be created by 2030. Once governments and global industry have made this decision to prioritise transition and decarbonization, other sectors will benefit from the second wave of employment growth.
Moreover, pursuing decarbonization as a part of national/international strategy will protect and maintain the vital role nature must play in supporting employment. Presently, some 2 billion jobs in sectors such as farming, fisheries, forestry and tourism are dependent on the effective management and sustainability of healthy ecosystems. As nature-based climate solutions begin to play a bigger role, and industries like conservation, restoration, and improved land management take shape, rural employment generation and its associated socio-economic multipliers will only strengthen.
Reframing our understanding of decarbonization and thinking about what it can help to facilitate will allow us to feasibly reimagine and restructure our international economy into one that is better suited for the global green transition to come. Decarbonization alone is not the solution, but a vital instrument to us reaching one.