DECC Climate 2050 Calculator is a success, says Ricardo

06 April 2016

The COP21 accord requires the world’s governments, business and institutions to find a way of reducing humanity’s climate warming footprint to less than 2.0°C, with a strong preference for a 1.5°C target. In a bid to support countries develop low carbon pathways and to increase transparency about what needs to happen to achieve them, the UK Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) launched a UK specific 2050 Calculator in 2010 and a global model ‘Global 2050 Calculator’ in 2013, as well as an outreach programme to support international adoption of similar calculators. According to an evaluation by Ricardo Energy & Environment, the programme can be labelled a success.

The COP21 conference saw 200 of the world’s countries commit to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and limiting temperature increase to ‘well-below’ 2.0°C. The accord was hailed as a first step, which now requires countries to quickly develop new targets and implement a range of measures to reduce their emissions in line with the accord.

In a bid to make the requirements needed to reach the climate policy targets of the UK more transparent, UK Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC), launched the 2050 Calculator in 2010. The calculator allows users, by manipulating a range of metrics and conditions, to create an energy pathway that lowers national greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) to the target level by 2050. The calculator provides a range of stakeholders to explore different ways in which the target can be reached.

As part of the DECC initiative, the organisation sought to create interest in, and support the development of, such calculators within other countries through an international outreach programme. The outreach programme includes the UK Government’s 2013 launched ‘Global 2050 Calculator’, which provides a range of levers and a background model in which individuals, companies, organisations and institutions can create pathways that meet Global goals, including those set at COP21. These emission-reducing calculators demonstrate the feasibility of those pathways and targets.

The Global Calculator

The DECC recently commission Ricardo Energy & Environment and the University College London Energy Institute (UCL-Energy) to evaluate the effectiveness of their outreach programme. The consulting firm, and the UCL-Energy, developed a comprehensive qualitative evaluation framework, as well as interviewed stakeholders from ten countries, to assess and understand the outputs and outcomes of the programme; and whether the outreach had an effect on different countries’ approach to planning to make reductions in GHG emissions.

According to recently released results, the DECC programme was deemed to be successful “in demonstrating the feasibility of low carbon pathways and thereby supporting national governments to develop effective and ambitious climate change policies.” The success includes build capacity within governments related to the implementation of low carbon pathways, as well as improving engagement and support from civil society and businesses for the concept of low carbon development.

Following the reported success of the programme, the DECC is pumping an additional £300,000 into the continued funding of the outreach programme, with the aim of further supporting countries across the world to develop and communicate their own 2050 Calculators in line with their respective COP21 goals for less than 2.0°C warming.

James Harries, Ricardo Energy & Environment project manager, says: “We are extremely proud to have evaluated the success of the 2050 international outreach work and are delighted that extra funding has been provided to continue the project. Ricardo Energy & Environment works closely with countries across the world to identify emissions reductions opportunities, and DECC’s outreach tools are proving to be an essential component in governments’ climate responses.”


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