Simple economics are revolutionizing the accessibility of renewable and energy efficient technologies, as greater affordability has triggered an unprecedented step-change in the world’s ethos of low carbon. The growth of renewable energy technologies – from solar, wind, hydro and nuclear – heralds the birth of the world’s fourth industrial revolution and galvanized the political and industrial appetite required to establish the Paris Agreement. Participants at the roundtable unanimously agreed that the Paris Agreement spells a new chapter in the historically fragmented narrative of international climate policy. The success is best illustrated by the US and China’s agreement in September to formally ratify the Agreement – the world’s two largest economies who are responsible for 40% of global carbon emissions are now on board.
The US and China have pursued their own energy efficiency policies, including voluntary emission reduction schemes and renewable energy projects, especially solar and wind. China plans to launch an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in late-2017, while an abundance of natural gas has enabled the US to reach its lowest level of emissions in twenty years. But, the Paris Agreement is the first time that the two countries have committed to operate under a global umbrella that holds them accountable for their emissions.