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About Pathways to Sustainable Energy

The UNECE region will play an important role in attaining the international energy and climate objectives that were being agreed in 2015. Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were announced in September, with goal number 7 defining targets to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”. The results of the climate agreement made at COP21 in Paris will shape national energy policies through a global climate change mitigation agenda.

Energy underpins most of the goals, and the energy sector plays a critical role in finding solutions for both sustainable development and climate change mitigation. However, there is as yet no clear view of the starting point or how to achieve these important objectives. Divergent economic development, resource availability and energy mixes are being reflected in national energy strategies and thus set different priorities how to achieve the overarching goals. Countries have not yet found a common definition of “sustainable energy” nor agreed on an expedient pathway to achieve it. This conundrum is particularly relevant for the UNECE region with its highly diverse membership.

There is a gap between the ambitious targets set for the future, and the strategies and systems in place today. Further, the combined greenhouse gas emission reductions based on 2015 submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) would not be sufficient to keep global warming under 2°C, so there is a second gap between the INDCs and the ambitions set forth in Paris. More ambitious strategies and policies will be needed to fill the gaps to achieve the sustainable development targets and sustainable energy, while addressing climate change. There is an important opportunity today to explore the implications of different sustainable energy strategies for the region. 
Pathways to Sustainable Energy Project
Recognising this opportunity, member States within the Committee on Sustainable Energy proposed that UNECE member States investigate and assess pathways for the region to attain sustainable energy and identify early warning indicators if objectives are not being met. The Pathways to Sustainable Energy Project was born. The project has three components, which consist of

(1) the development of sustainable energy policy and technology options towards 2050 by means of modelling and other tools,

(2) the facilitation of energy expert and policy exchange formats, and

(3) the development of an early-warning system if achievement of sustainable energy objectives is not on track.
The project is intended to enhance the understanding of sustainable energy policy drivers in UNECE member States, promote a policy dialogue and provide awareness raising of different outcomes that could emerge over time. The overall vision of the project is to inform governments in the UNECE region about options on how to attain sustainable energy in the future while meeting international development and climate targets. The project will facilitate a high-level policy dialogue to support governments, energy industries and other private sector, non-governmental and international organizations that are involved in energy in the UNECE region and develop an instrument for transparent model-based analysis of pathways for sustainable energy in the UNECE region. It further will develop an early warning system if achievement of sustainable energy objectives is not on track.

The project will work with internationally renown modelling institutions IIASA, PNNL and Fraunhofer for this exciting project. A crucial part of the project is the exchange among the multiple project stakeholders . The project will provide opportunities for exchange and interaction among member States, private sector, academia, civil society, as well as independent energy experts to discuss modelling in- and outputs and policy and technology options to derive pathways towards sustainable energy in 2050. The results culminate in a high-level (ministerial) dialogue about how to attain sustainable energy outcomes in the region.

The project is currently funded by the Russian Federation, the United States, and Germany.