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DEEDS project lines up cross-sectoral arguments in favour of decarbonisation

As the EU tentatively moves towards a post-lockdown era, the European Green Deal is now more topical than ever. Should we push it aside and go back to business as usual, or should we rather see the coronavirus pandemic as a unique opportunity to create a greener and more resilient economy? Whilst there is still much to be talked about and agreed upon, the DEEDS project has been laying some of the groundwork for Green Deal proponents.

Climate Change and Environment

The DEEDS (DialoguE on European Decarbonisation Strategies) project’s efforts essentially revolve around two objectives: gathering the best knowledge about decarbonisation strategies, technology and innovation; and discussing and disseminating this knowledge with stakeholders from governments, industry, NGOs and research centres. To get there, the project brought together a network of leading scientists and a knowledge base of research projects related to European decarbonisation pathways. Together, they supported the High-Level Panel (HLP) of the European Decarbonisation Pathways Initiative (EDPI) in the creation of its final report. The report picks up where the Paris Agreement left off. It provides the means to its end in the form of research and innovation (R&I) to speed up and foster the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions – while also improving the competitiveness of the EU economy.

Shifting tasks and stakeholder engagement

Although DEEDS existed before the European Green Deal was first conceived, its focus on building up a climate-friendly economy makes it particularly relevant for our times. As Adriaan Slob, Senior Researcher at TNO and project coordinator explains: “There are two main challenges at hand. First, the idea of a climate-neutral society has yet to be fully embraced as we can see with current debates. Circumstances in some Member States and fear of the consequences of pro-environmental measures call for research and innovation to gain better insights into possible technology pathways and quantify their impacts. Then, we know that the design of decarbonisation pathways must deal with many uncertainties. The pathways constantly need to be evaluated and benchmarked against new insights and developments.” The HLP report particularly addresses the first challenge by providing R&I recommendations for the decarbonisation of the European society and economy, addressing for instance: energy production, mobility, industry, agriculture, cities, green finance, as well as (social) innovation and lifestyles. “After the publication of the HLP report in November 2018, our tasks shifted towards discussing each chapter in a dedicated workshop with important European stakeholders. In this way we could test the support for the chapter’s line of argument and recommendations,” Slob explains. “Stakeholders could bring in their ideas, but we mostly noticed strong support for the recommendations.”

Policy recommendations for a decarbonised future

DEEDS is set for completion in September 2020, and the project team is working on policy briefs building upon the HLP report and the workshop results. Slob says three of them are particularly innovative. “The topics of social innovation, cities, and innovation and finance are usually left out from discussions on decarbonisation strategies. Besides, our workshop ‘Transformation to a climate-neutral society – the role of beyond GDP indicators’ also introduced a novel element in the discussions.” In the related report, the project consortium interestingly calls for policies to be informed by a more comprehensive set of indicators than just economic ones. By monitoring well-being in the broad sense (health, education, environmental quality, etc.), the team suggests that more informed policies could be created, generating more support from citizens. The findings and recommendations of the DEEDS project can help governments in selecting appropriate R&I activities to align with the Green Deal. Generally speaking, they could help them work towards a more resilient, more sustainable and more prosperous future – all this while anticipating and minimising potential adverse impacts across society and business.

Keywords

DEEDS, decarbonisation, green deal, Paris Agreement, finance, social innovation, citizens

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