Climate Strategies and Sustainable Economies in Europe

The Aspen Institute Italy and the Environment and Natural Resources Program at the Harvard Kennedy School with the participation of Ivan Hodač, the president of the Aspen Institute Prague, organized a workshop in Florence, Italy on July 1, 2016 to discuss the Post-COP21 climate strategies and efforts to realize sustainable economies in Europe.

The objective of the workshop was to provide a safe environment where policy makers, academics and industry leaders could come together and discuss how Europe could achieve a lower carbon energy transition.

It is a big challenge to deal with the 2030 climate and energy goals as well as the Energy Union strategy. We have to take part in the discussion on how to provide secure, affordable and climate-friendly energy for Europe,” stated Ivan Hodač.

The workshop concluded with remarks from several participants on the need to reconcile efforts with those that are envisioned at the EU level. The discussion boiled down to observations that the policy makers will have to resolve going forward if the world is to have a chance of transitioning to a low carbon economy in time.

Two constraints that bind all proposed actions and potential solutions to the climate issue are limited time and limited financial resources. Reframing climate issues in terms of other societal priorities was seen as a potential way forward to break the competition for funds.

By demonstrating the co-benefits climate action can have in various areas, such as public health and economic development, factions of the society that currently do not view climate change as a high priority issue can be engaged and political support can be augmented. Such a framing can also help policy makers design more flexible policies that can endure through changing leadership and create the lasting change that is necessary.

There was a tension between making investments today with well-established technologies versus investing in further research to potentially come up with better, more efficient technologies in achieving the end goals. The trade-off stems from the uncertainty that lies at the heart of the innovation process. The success of such an experiment is not a given. Hence, an appeal was made for governments to share more data with academia to better understand innovation processes.
Finally, financing was seen as a critical enabling mechanism, both for innovation and deployment of well-established clean energy technologies. Certain interventions by the governments, such as the establishment of green investment banks, aggregation of projects and creation of bigger and more unified markets, were proposed to mend the market failures in this area.

See the full reports by Aspen Institute Italy and Harvard Kennedy School.

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