COP21 Results and Implications for Pathways and Policies for Low Emissions European Societies (RIPPLES)

The Paris Agreement represents an important new strategic context for EU climate policy. The RIPPLES (COP21 Results and Implications for Pathways and Policies for Low Emissions European Societies) project aims to analyse the implications of the Paris Agreement via an interdisciplinary approach, combining analysis of the evolution of the international climate regime as well as of NDCs and their socio-economic implications.


Project period
September 2016 – August 2019

EU Horizon 2020 – Research and Innovation Framework

Fondazione Centro Euro Mediterraneo Sui Cambiamenti Climatici
Fundacja Instytut Studiow Strukturalnych
Agenzia Nazionale Per Le Nuove Tecnologie l’Energia E Lo Sviluppo Economico Sostenibile
Wuppertal Institute
Bruegel Aisbl
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
University College London
Fundacao Coordenacao De Projetos Pesquisas Estudos Tecnologicos Coppetec
Climate Strategies
University of East Anglia
Sofiiski Universitet Sveti Kliment Ohridski
Tsinghua University
University Of Oxford
University Of Cape Town
University of Cambridge


©Rock Cohen, Flickr

The COP21 outcome represents an important new strategic context for EU climate policy. Analysing the implications of this new context requires an interdisciplinary approach, combining analysis of the evolution of the international climate regime as well as of NDCs and their socio-economic implications.

Such analysis is also urgent, given the timelines imposed by the Paris Agreement for a “facilitative dialogue” in 2018 with a view to creating the conditions for the revision of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in 2020.

In order to address the context described above, this project has four objectives:

1. Assess the adequacy of the NDCs submitted at COP21 in light of the global temperature target of limiting warming to 2°C/1.5°C.

Through the analysis of GHG scenarios and energy system scenarios , the project will pay particular attention to the concrete system changes induced by NDCs, and compare them with the changes required to meet the global temperature limit. The project will also analyse scenarios limiting warming to 1.5°C, and the impact of NDCs on other sectors, in particular land-use.

2. Assess the implications of NDCs and deeper mitigation pathways on other European socio-economic objectives.

By integrating GHG and energy system scenarios into a range of different macro-economic, global energy system models and other quantified methodologies, the project will investigate implications for European socio-economic objectives related to innovation and technology deployment; trade and competitiveness; investment, financial flows and economic growth (“green growth”); and global energy markets and energy security.

3. Assess the adequacy of the outcomes of COP21, and the implications and opportunities emerging from ongoing UNFCCC negotiations.

The project will undertake a social sciences-based (in particular international law and international relations) assessment of the outcome of COP21.

4. Policy recommendations for EU climate policy and climate diplomacy.

Project publications

Strengthening International Climate Governance
November 3 2017

Significant potential exists to accelerate the climate transition by advancing sectoral approaches and institutions in international climate governance. To achieve the Paris Agreement objectives and quicken the urgently needed for decarbonisation of our societies and economies, the simultaneous transformation of a wide range of interdependent sectoral systems is required. Each of these systems faces very specific transformation challenges and potentials for international governance. This calls for advancing tailor-made sectoral approaches to reinforce global climate governance, in the context of the further development of both the Paris Agreement and the system of intergovernmental institutions and transnational arrangements, including the increasing number of multistakeholder initiatives. More encompassing sectoral governance can enable a much-needed strengthening of countries’ “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) on the way to a speedy decarbonisation.

A Sectoral Perspective To Embark on Transformative Pathways
October 26 2018

Delaying action implies a triple burden: doing more later, being less prepared for it and paying more, besides being a fundamental matter of feasibility to meet the Paris Agreement mitigation goals. Increasing pre-2030 ambition leads to a smoother, more realistic transition; it avoids relying on more intense rates of decarbonisation later, or asking comparatively more of a specific sector, which may increase acceptability problems. Higher pre-2030 ambition offers an opportunity to reduce the overall cost of the transition through ‘learning by doing’ and avoids locked-in investments. A sectoral country-driven approach to decarbonisation is more likely to deliver ambition that is compatible with the goals of the Paris Agreement and can make transformation happen on the ground. This approach can be supported by advancing international governance mechanisms in sectoral terms, and periodic review mechanisms structured by sectoral themes.

Learning for Decarbonisation
October 30 2018

Early investments to foster learning reduces decarbonisation costs in the long term. In addition, early investments into decarbonisation technologies also offer economic opportunities for individual countries to develop new low-carbon technologies and sectors. This brief makes the case that national decarbonisation strategies should put a special emphasis on the benefits of learning. Accordingly, countries should start early to deploy and develop low-carbon technologies, concentrate on promising technologies, exploit individual regional strength and bear in mind the opportunities and constraints of the national innovation system.

Some Arguments for Increasing the EU’s 2030 Climate Ambition
October 3 2019

Under the Paris Agreement, governments agreed to come together every five years to set more ambitious emissions-reduction targets, as required by science. Current commitments are not sufficient to keep global warming below 2°C. A tightening of these commitments in the EU by 2020 would, in fact, reflect the current domestic legal framework, which should already lead to deeper decarbonisation than the current target of a 40% emissions cut by 2030 compared to 1990. More ambition from the EU would help to avoid unnecessary investment, prevent too great a reliance on negative emissions, and keep the 1.5°C ambition within reach. Deferred decarbonisation will lead to a larger power system and cause a short-lived gas-demand bulge, which would imply a higher total cost. At the same time, faster capacity expansion can reduce dramatically the future cost of low-carbon technologies, and switching earlier to faster learning technologies implies economic benefits over time. As the low-carbon technology race is still being run, and certain European regions have the potential to specialise in certain low-carbon technologies, early action can help translate this potential into an actual competitive edge. Delaying further action in the EU will result in very unbalanced efforts before and after 2030. The steep changes left for the post-2030 period might cause social pain and political instability, and pose an even greater risk to financial stability. To avoid stranded assets and economic disruption in the EU, it is urgent to increase low-carbon investment and phase-out fossil fuel investment.

Putting Industrial Transformation at the Heart of the European Green Deal
December 1 2019

Decarbonisation of emission intensive industries is a key challenge for achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement, both for the EU and globally. The European Commission should include an ‘Industrial Decarbonisation Mission’ under the European Green Deal. A coherent industrial decarbonisation strategy should provide long-term clarity for the direction of innovation, integrate different policy priorities, use the full range of innovation instruments and coordinate among different governance levels. A transnational steel sector decarbonisation club could help the EU achieve several objectives at a time: advance domestic decarbonisation and renew its role as a leader in international climate diplomacy. A club could also be an ideal testbed to pilot the introduction of border carbon adjustments.

Finance after the Paris Agreement – The necessary transformation of the financial system
January 23 2020

Article 2.1© of the #ParisAgreement creates a collective responsibility to restructure the entire financial system. The current move on sustainable finance is positive, but is insufficient to result in an alignment with the Paris Agreement climate target, which means full decarbonation of the economy by 2050-2070. Finance cannot limit itself to growing “green” niches. It must simultaneously stop financing and investing in the carbon-intensive assets that are not compatible with Paris pathways. Policymakers should challenge the current approach to accelerate the pace and ambition of financial sector transformation, in order to fix its incapacity to deal with common goods such as a stable climate. Self-regulation and disclosure are principal provisions of sustainable finance frameworks, especially in Europe, but more pivotal propositions target market short-termism, prudential rules, fiduciary duty, or accounting rules. In emerging economies central banks and financial regulation are directly orienting financial flows towards their green economic priorities. Finance must be reconciled with the long term, and financial regulators must have a clear mandate to do ‘whatever it takes’ to save the climate, in articulation with governmental policies.

Getting on to the right (emissions) path – An adequacy assessment framework and its application within the EU
January 28 2020

The case for a multidimension framework to assess adequacy of the global response to the implementation of the Paris Agreement, and specific recommendations to the EU to apply this framework in its policy process to accelerating climate action in the context of the European Green Deal. The successful implementation of the Paris Agreement inevitably requires addressing different inter-connected dimensions: governance, economic and social, sectoral & physical transformations and GHG emissions. Political discussions on ambition need to be confronted with adequacy assessments that allow for these different dimensions to be considered. Rather than overcomplicating things, a more textured response, embedded in the realities of the different geographies and for each of the sectors, while making the best of international cooperation, will facilitate the design of possible new avenues to make a more rapid and effective transition (from an environmental perspective) possible. Adequacy assessments should also play a key role in tracking progress and identifying avenues for international cooperation given the highly dynamic and interactive nature of the ambition ratchet-up mechanism (i.e. NDC submission cycles and stock takes).

Insights into country heterogeneity in the EU low-carbon transitionInsights into country heterogeneity in the EU low-carbon transition
January 28 2020

Heterogeneity is not about ambition, it is about the how and when – the path to get there. Ambition is defined in the Paris Agreement at global level & at the EC long-term vision at EU level. The need and importance of a clear vision as starting point: EC vision (towards neutrality) is a very useful concrete guide. Critical (for implementation and support) that each country develops a clear understanding of its role in the transition and the possible socio-economic impacts, opportunities and challenges. – Trajectories need to be defined at country level, taking into account local circumstances. That said, it is essential for the country-level assessments to be embedded in a EU and a global context, to help identify cooperation opportunities and ensuring consistency with the global objective.