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A workshop on the US Long-term strategy towards net zero
On 24th and 25th May 2021, the PARIS REINFORCE consortium helped to organise a virtual US workshop, in collaboration with key US partners: ClimateWorks, University of Maryland Center for Global Sustainability, Rocky Mountain Institute, World Resources Institute, and the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. They convened US and international experts from a broad range of communities concerned with the US low-carbon transition, to discuss strategic, analytical, and implementation needs to achieve a successful US long-term strategy (LTS) to Net Zero.
These stakeholders included: climate change and energy analysts and strategists from academia, NGOs, think tanks, and businesses; policy and regulatory officials from the federal government; experts with on-the-ground experience of implementing low-carbon transitions, including amongst workers and communities. Together, they discussed a number of themes including:
- Strategic and analytical needs towards a successful LTS
- Challenges and opportunities to decarbonising whilst ensuring the transition is equitable
- Implications of the transition on the economy, including jobs and opportunities
The first day of the workshop opened with Professor Leon Clarke of the University of Maryland, a Scientific Advisory Board member of PARIS REINFORCE, setting out the context for US long-term decarbonisation action, in light of the US’s recently updated NDC. There then followed introductory comments from a range of US policy and government officials on the opportunities and uses of additional analysis to help inform and frame long-term action in the USA.
A series of lightning presentations then followed on different groups’ current analysis of long-term strategies both in the USA and other countries. This included a presentation by Dr Haris Doukas (NTUA) and Dr Ajay Gambhir (Grantham Institute, Imperial College London) on the PARIS REINFORCE analysis around mitigation pathways in major emitting economies, and the related analysis around jobs and SDG implications. Other presentations highlighted the critical need to consider equity, jobs, and a range of non-climate concerns into account to achieve a workable long-term strategy. Comments highlighted that there must be greater analysis of local, community-level implications. In addition, to achieve Net Zero, all sectors and gases must be analysed in detail.
The second day of the workshop opened with a series of presentations on current analysis and future requirements to consider aspects of equity and jobs. This paved the way for two breakout discussions on jobs and equity respectively. The equity discussion highlighted that there is a need for better data to build appropriate metrics to highlight equity implications of the transition, and that without equity concerns at the core of a long-term strategy, it would not succeed. The jobs discussion highlighted how there needs to be better analysis that goes beyond jobs numbers, including on jobs quality, wages, contract length, and inclusivity.
A constant theme throughout the workshop was that stakeholder participation and inclusion is a central element of equity, and is essential in the design of the LTS and its sub-national elements.