The transition to a low-carbon economy is unstoppable

Recent elections have led to a lively debate about the future of climate action. Many ask if the historic breakthrough in Paris last year will now be put to rest. While politics does matter, no election result is going to change this simple fact: climate solutions will continue to make progress.

The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra last year released a global study together with leading institutions from 10 different countries. The report was presented recently at the Marrakech Climate Change Conference. The Green to Scale report gives a lot of reasons for optimism. According to the analysis, simply scaling up 17 existing low-carbon solutions would reduce global emissions by 12 gigatonnes (Gt) by 2030. To put the figure into perspective, this is about one quarter of current global emissions.

Heat pumps is a significant part of this solution, with a reduction potential of 64 Mt CO2 equivalents per year in 2030, provided selected European countries follow the example of Sweden in use of heat pumps.

What is even more striking is the price tag. Using conservative assumptions, the cost of scaling up the 17 solutions would reach $94 billion dollars a year by 2030. While that does sound like a lot of money, it is less than one fifth of the amount that governments pour into direct fossil fuel subsidies every year. Taking the average of the cost range, cutting emissions with this set of solutions could actually save taxpayers money. And this does not even include the value of the various co-benefits that taking climate action provides, from cutting harmful air pollution to creating local jobs.

Other studies have shown that the price of low-carbon solutions has been falling rapidly. If you have time for just one graph, have a look at the one compiled by Vox. It tells that low-carbon solutions will continue to make progress. Energy companies will invest in renewable energy. Consumers will start using electric vehicles. Industries will find ways to cut their energy use.