Mid-Century Strategies: Pathways to a Low-Carbon Future?

Climate Policy

24 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2019

See all articles by Narayan Gopinathan

Narayan Gopinathan

University of British Columbia (UBC)

Narayan Subramanian

Columbia University

Johannes Urpelainen

Johns Hopkins SAIS

Date Written: May 21, 2019


Since the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015, both national and subnational governments have been encouraged to submit Mid-Century Strategies, outlining how they would reach their deep decarbonization goals. However, research on the design and potential of these strategies has been very limited. To address this shortcoming, here we assess 13 such strategies – six national, seven subnational – in a comparative fashion. We find that the energy-economy-climate models underpinning these strategies are generally of high quality, though national jurisdictions generally performed better. However, most strategies are not plausible without significant changes to policy, and the industrial sector in particular presents a major limitation. The strategies are helpful in revealing this gap, but much works remains to be done for plausible mid-century decarbonization trajectories to become a reality. We also find that public input and societal participation in strategy building were a double-edged sword depending on the constellation of domestic preferences.

• Governmental Mid-Century Strategies for deep decarbonization are underpinned by high-quality energy-economy-climate models

• Governments’ proposed strategies require significant new policies, as even among jurisdictions that have an MCS, extant policies are insufficient to achieve deep decarbonization

• No jurisdiction studied has yet put forward a plausible decarbonization policy for the industrial sector

• Public input and societal participation can be a double-edged sword: they can increase durability of the strategy but also enable opposing forces to mobilize against ambitious changes

Keywords: climate policy, decarbonization, public policy

Suggested Citation

Gopinathan, Narayan and Subramanian, Narayan and Urpelainen, Johannes, Mid-Century Strategies: Pathways to a Low-Carbon Future? (May 21, 2019). Climate Policy. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3395642

Narayan Gopinathan

University of British Columbia (UBC) ( email )

2329 West Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia BC V6T 1Z4

Narayan Subramanian

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Johannes Urpelainen (Contact Author)

Johns Hopkins SAIS ( email )

1740 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036-1984
United States

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