By many measures, the world is still in the early stages of a deep and profound transformation in energy, and industrial and agricultural processes. The aim of that transition is to achieve new policy goals for modern societies – among them, deep cuts in carbon dioxide and other warming gases.
This community paper focuses on the role of policy in these processes of transformation. The experience, so far, is that the societies making the most progress on deep decarbonization have all relied heavily on policy initiatives – to set ambitious goals, to create incentives for innovation and development and deployment of new technologies, to encourage scaling of superior solutions, to encourage new kinds of firms and markets, and to send clear signals about the need for change. With growing attention on the need for energy transformation, there has been increasing interest in the lessons from many diverse policy experiences. The key insight from this effort is that there are many good practices that can be replicated while new more innovative policies can be developed to drive deep decarbonization.
This “little green book” offers a sample of sound policy experiences – policy lighthouses that can guide countries and markets towards new destinations. Like lighthouses, these examples are reliably visible from a distance even when little else – few other models of good policy design – are evident on the horizon. In compiling this list, we have benefitted from experiences around the world that are reflected in the network of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Energy. Our list focuses on policies that meet the following criteria:
- Implementable: The policies have been adopted and put into practice, which means that they have been tested for their political viability and effectiveness.
- Accountable: They have measurable impacts and costs, which means that the approach is sufficiently transparent and accountable.
- Impactful: The policies make a substantial contribution to sustainable development, including reductions in emissions.
- Scalable: They are scalable – so that efforts in the locales in which these policies have been developed and tested can be applied, perhaps with modification, to other settings elsewhere.