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Consulting civil society on climate change measures

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) worked closely with EU researchers to aid in the transition from today's high carbon society to one that is more climate friendly. Energy scenarios outlining low-carbon futures were developed with the help of CSOs to enhance their acceptance of the resulting low carbon pathways.
Consulting civil society on climate change measures
The 'European network engaging civil society in low carbon scenarios' (ENCI-LOWCARB) project developed low-carbon scenarios that featured ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets. Work carried out by the consortium included the creation of a European network made up of CSOs and research institutes. The 'Low Carbon Societies Network' facilitated lively debate on existing energy scenarios and best practice, and will be invaluable in establishing a low-carbon society.

Studies conducted in Germany and France examined low-carbon scenarios and the role of CSOs. Researchers studied energy policies and their impact on the economy, employment and the price of goods. The opinions of national stakeholders, such as trade unions, consumer associations and private companies were integrated into innovative applied modelling tools. The tools were used to create climate change mitigation scenarios and included ambitious GHG emission reduction targets using macro-economic models. Results showed the role of the different energy sectors in the wider economy.

In France, the study focused on specific policy measures such as laws, taxes and economic incentives, and identified hurdles to the country becoming more climate friendly. The need for a carbon tax that could trigger funding for transition to a low-carbon economy was also highlighted. The modelling tool used, Imaclim-R, was developed by the International Research Center on Environment and Development (CIRED). Imaclim-R calculated the evolution of the French economy, dividing it into a number of sectors that included energy, transport, construction, energy-intensive industries, agriculture and services.

The German study concentrated on the long-term interplay between technological mitigation options in different sectors of the country's energy system, as well as general macroeconomic considerations. The modelling tool, Remind-D, was developed by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

Stakeholder consultation organised within the ENCI-LOWCARB project showed that concerns regarding concrete measures, decisions and a schedule leading towards a climate-friendly future varied according to which sector of industry stakeholders came from. A number of challenges were identified in both the German and French studies. These included the decoupling of freight transport and gross domestic product (GDP) growth, making acceptable the early decommissioning of coal power plants and the need to retrofit buildings in the face of climate change.

By focusing on the creative process rather than the resulting scenarios, ENCI-LOWCARB was able to demonstrate not only what is technically and economically possible regarding a low-carbon future, but also what is feasible and acceptable to stakeholders.

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