Transport accounts for 24% of global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. Governments face challenges in developing feasible and equitable mitigation strategies to reduce energy consumption and manage the transition to low-carbon transport systems. To meet the local and global transport emission reduction targets, policymakers need more realistic/sophisticated future projections of transport demand to better understand the speed and depth of the actions required to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. In this paper, we argue that the lack of access to high-quality data on the current and historical travel demand and interdisciplinary research hinders transport planning and sustainable transitions toward low-carbon transport futures. We call for a greater interdisciplinary collaboration agenda across open data, data science, behaviour modelling, and policy analysis. These advancemets can reduce some of the major uncertainties and contribute to evidence-based solutions toward improving the sustainability performance of future transport systems. The paper also points to some needed efforts and directions to provide robust insights to policymakers. We provide examples of how these efforts could benefit from the International Transport Energy Modeling Open Data project and open science interdisciplinary collaborations.
To achieve the Paris Agreement’s temperature goal, fossil fuel production needs to undergo a managed decline. While some frontrunner countries have already begun to adopt policies and measures restricting fossil fuel supply, an outstanding question is how international cooperation in support of a managed decline of fossil fuel production could take shape. This article explores two possible pathways—one following a club model and the other more akin to a multilateral environmental agreement. Specifically, the article discusses the participants in an international agreement; the forum through which cooperation will take place; the modalities, principles, and procedures underpinning the agreement; and the incentives to induce cooperation. The article concludes that the most likely scenario at this juncture is the emergence of club arrangements covering particular fossil fuel sources and groups of actors that, over time, give rise to growing calls for a more coordinated and multilateral response.
Decarbonizing global steel production requires a fundamental transformation. A sectoral climate club, which goes beyond tariffs and involves deep transnational cooperation, can facilitate this transformation by addressing technical, economic and political uncertainties.
Technological breakthroughs and policy measures targeting energy efficiency and clean energy alone will not suffice to deliver Paris Agreement-compliant greenhouse gas emissions trajectories in the next decades. Strong cases have recently been made for acknowledging the decarbonisation potential lying in transforming linear economic models into closed-loop industrial ecosystems and in shifting lifestyle patterns towards this direction. This perspective highlights the research capacity needed to inform on the role and potential of the circular economy for climate change mitigation and to enhance the scientific capabilities to quantitatively explore their synergies and trade-offs. This begins with establishing conceptual and methodological bridges amongst the relevant and currently fragmented research communities, thereby allowing an interdisciplinary integration and assessment of circularity, decarbonisation, and sustainable development. Following similar calls for science in support of climate action, a transdisciplinary scientific agenda is needed to co-create the goals and scientific processes underpinning the transition pathways towards a circular, net-zero economy with representatives from policy, industry, and civil society. Here, it is argued that such integration of disciplines, methods, and communities can then lead to new and/or structurally enhanced quantitative systems models that better represent critical industrial value chains, consumption patterns, and mitigation technologies. This will be a crucial advancement towards assessing the material implications of, and the contribution of enhanced circularity performance to, mitigation pathways that are compatible with the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement and the transition to a circular economy.
Emissions pathways after COVID-19 will be shaped by how governments’ economic responses translate into infrastructure expansion, energy use, investment planning and societal changes. As a response to the COVID-19 crisis, most governments worldwide launched recovery packages aiming to boost their economies, support employment and enhance their competitiveness. Climate action is pledged to be embedded in most of these packages, but with sharp differences across countries. This paper provides novel evidence on the energy system and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions implications of post-COVID-19 recovery packages by assessing the gap between pledged recovery packages and the actual investment needs of the energy transition to reach the Paris Agreement goals. Using two well-established Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) and analysing various scenarios combining recovery packages and climate policies, we conclude that currently planned recovery from COVID-19 is not enough to enhance societal responses to climate urgency and that it should be significantly upscaled and prolonged to ensure compatibility with the Paris Agreement goals.
The Paris Agreement seeks to combine international efforts to keep global temperature increase to well-below 2°C. Whilst current ambitions in many signatories are insufficient to achieve this goal, optimism prevailed in the second half of 2020. Not only did several major emitters announce net-zero mitigation targets around mid-century, but the new Biden Administration immediately announced the U.S.’s re-entry into Paris and a net-zero goal for 2050. U.S. federal re-engagement in climate action could have a considerable impact on its national greenhouse gas emissions pathway, by significantly augmenting existing state-level actions. Combined with U.S. re-entry in the Paris Agreement, this could also serve as a stimulus to enhance ambitions in other countries. A critical question then becomes what such U.S. re-engagement, through both national and international channels, would have on the global picture. This commentary explores precisely this question, by using an integrated assessment model to assess U.S. national emissions, global emissions, and end-of-century temperatures in five scenarios combining different climate ambition levels in both the U.S. and the rest of the world. Our analyses find that ambitious climate leadership by the Biden Administration on top of enhanced climate commitments by other major economies could potentially be the trigger for the world to fulfill the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement has set out ambitious climate goals aiming to keep global warming well below 2 °C by 2100. This requires a large-scale transformation of the global energy system based on the uptake of several technological options to reduce drastically emissions, including expansion of renewable energy, energy efficiency improvements, and fuel switch towards low-carbon energy carriers. The current study explores the role of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) as a mitigation option, which provides a dispatchable source for carbon-free production of electricity and can also be used to decarbonise industrial processes. In the last decade, limited technology progress and slow deployment of CCS technologies worldwide have increased the concerns about the feasibility and potential for massive scale-up of CCS required for deep decarbonisation. The current study uses the state-of-the-art PROMETHEUS global energy demand and supply system model to examine the role and impacts of CCS deployment in a global decarbonisation context. By developing contrasted decarbonisation scenarios, the analysis illustrates that CCS deployment might bring about various economic and climate benefits for developing economies, in the form of reduced emissions, lower mitigation costs, ensuring the cost-efficient integration of renewables, limiting stranded fossil fuel assets, and alleviating the negative distributional impacts of cost-optimal policies for developing economies.