Lucy – Investigating driving factors of energy structure change for achieving future energy market designs

Hello! I am Lucy Xinyu Zhu, a first-year student at Yale-NUS College from Shanghai. Having done extensive policy research for my debate tournaments on carbon pricing and multilateral binding mechanisms in addition to leading the operations of a community recycling initiative for 3 years, I want to make sense of how countries translate ambitions into achievements. At COP24, I will be tracking pathways for transitioning into cleaner energy by witnessing first-hand negotiations, attending relevant side events, and hopefully visiting a Polish coal mine to learn about their strategy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

I plan to investigate pathways to decarbonization and energy structure change of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa) because they are responsible for ~42% of global carbon dioxide emissions and are regional leaders in economic development and renewable energy adoption. Since COP24 is a major progress checkpoint for the Paris Agreement Nationally Determined Contributions, I will follow BRICS negotiators and organizations whenever possible to observe their concerns regarding energy transition from fossil fuel to renewables. By the end of this LAB, I hope to understand 1) why are BRICS energy sources the way they are now (aka what was wrong with the pre-COP24 status quo) and 2) what has been done at COP24 to overcome these issues?

Besides tracking institutional change and conference actions by BRICS, there are additional things I will be watching out for

  • Leadership (or lack of leadership) by BRICS countries – is there critical engagement with issues that seem distant to themselves, instilling positivity into goal-setting and trust, taking up extra responsibility (eg. transportation sector emissions, more ambitious) etc
  • Interactions involving BRICS countries in negotiations – what issues are they concerned about and how strong is the language in their speeches?
  • Strategies for renovating current non-renewable energy generator infrastructure – what to do with the coal mines which become replaced by renewables?
  • Additional de-carbonization efforts unrelated to energy  such as carbon capture and storage, financing technology research and development, etc.
  • Responses to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) milestones achieved at the Bangkok Climate Change Conference (SBSTA 48-2, SBI 48-2, APA 1-6)
  • Talanoa Dialogue on energy
  • Prospective carbon emissions trading and pricing schemes

I will be doing the following

  • Getting state and non-state perspectives on energy transition by BRICS and organizations (all of BRICS have pavilions with side events!)
  • Observing negotiations and speeches by the BRICS countries
  • Checking out the renewable energy and negative carbon emissions technology developed by non-BRICS countries
  • Stay updated about the progress of the Rulebook and conference transparency
  • Periodical recaps of key messages delivered by negotiators and event hosts
  • Deciphering what’s at stake for BRICS engagement with energy transition

It’s going to be a thrilling week as I try to keep up with the climate actions and events. Can’t wait to experience the intensity of the conference with the Yale-NUS delegation!

Finally, a shameless plug for @ynccop and @_lucyzhu_ on Instagram for brief updates every day.

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