Sustainable energy transition readiness: A multicriteria assessment index
With climate change mainly originating from the extensive use of fossil fuels and having impacts on many aspects of life, changing the way energy is utilised constitutes a challenge that the world collectively must tackle. In this respect, all countries should implement a variety of measures focusing on energy efficiency and use of sustainable energy sources towards decarbonising their economies and achieving effective greenhouse gas emission reductions and sustainable development. Technological innovations, economic growth, societal compliance, and the regulatory and institutional frameworks constitute prominent factors that could promote, hinder or shape energy transitions as well as indicate the capacity of energy systems to be transformed. Therefore, investigating energy transitions and the extent to which countries are prepared to carry out such transitions requires the consideration of insights into multiple dimensions. This study outlines a multicriteria analysis framework to assess a country's sustainable energy transition readiness level, drawing from four pillars—social, political/regulatory, economic and technological—comprising a consistent set of eight evaluation criteria. The proposed decision analysis framework builds on the PROMETHEE II and AHP methods. Fourteen countries of different profile and level of progress towards sustainable development are evaluated and ranked, in an effort to highlight areas for improvement, and to support policymakers in designing appropriate pathways towards a greener economy.
A multiple-uncertainty analysis framework for integrated assessment modelling of several sustainable development goals
This research introduces a two-level integration of climate-economy modelling and portfolio analysis, to simulate technological subsidisation with implications for multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), across socioeconomic trajectories and considering different levels of uncertainties. We use integrated assessment modelling outputs relevant for progress across three SDGs—namely air pollution-related mortality (SDG3), access to clean energy (SDG7) and greenhouse gas emissions (SDG13)—calculated with the Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM) for different subsidy levels for six sustainable technologies, across three Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), feeding them into a portfolio analysis model. Optimal portfolios that are robust in the individual socioeconomic scenarios as well as across the socioeconomic scenarios are identified, by means of an SSP-robustness score. A second link between the two models is established, by feeding portfolio analysis results back into GCAM. Application in a case study for Eastern Africa confirms that most SSP-robust portfolios show smaller output ranges among scenarios.
Many Miles to Paris: A Sectoral Innovation System Analysis of the Transport Sector in Norway and Canada in Light of the Paris Agreement
Transport is associated with high amounts of energy consumed and greenhouse gases emitted. Most transport means operate using fossil fuels, creating the urgent need for a rapid transformation of the sector. In this research, we examine the transport systems of Norway and Canada, two countries with similar shares of greenhouse gas emissions from transport and powerful oil industries operating within their boundaries. Our socio-technical analysis, based on the Sectoral Innovation Systems approach, attempts to identify the elements enabling Norway to become one of the leaders in the diffusion of electric vehicles, as well as the differences pacing down progress in Canada. By utilising the System Failure framework to compare the two systems, bottlenecks hindering the decarbonisation of the two transport systems are identified. Results indicate that the effectiveness of Norway’s policy is exaggerated and has led to recent spillover effects towards green shipping. The activity of oil companies, regional and federal legislative disputes in Canada and the lack of sincere efforts from system actors to address challenges lead to non-drastic greenhouse gas emission reductions, despite significant policy efforts from both countries. Insights into the effectiveness of previously implemented policies and the evolution of the two sectoral systems can help draw lessons towards sustainable transport.
Assessing the feasibility of carbon dioxide mitigation options in terms of energy usage
Measures to mitigate the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) can vary substantially in terms of the energy required. Some proposed CO2 mitigation options involve energy-intensive processes that compromise their viability as routes to mitigation, especially if deployed at a global scale. Here we provide an assessment of different mitigation options in terms of their energy usage. We assess the relative effectiveness of several CO2 mitigation routes by calculating the energy cost of carbon abatement (kilowatt-hour spent per kilogram CO2-equivalent, or kWh kgCO2e–1) mitigated. We consider energy efficiency measures, decarbonizing electricity, heat, chemicals and fuels, and also capturing CO2 from air. Among the routes considered, switching to renewable energy technologies (0.05–0.53 kWh kgCO2e–1 mitigated) offer more energy-effective mitigation than carbon embedding or carbon removal approaches, which are more energy intensive (0.99–10.03 kWh kgCO2e–1 and 0.78–2.93 kWh kgCO2e–1 mitigated, respectively), whereas energy efficiency measures, such as improving building lighting, can offer the most energy-effective mitigation.
The appropriate use of reference scenarios in mitigation analysis
Comparing emissions scenarios is an essential part of mitigation analysis, as climate targets can be met in various ways with different economic, energy system and co-benefit implications. Typically, a central ‘reference scenario’ acts as a point of comparison, and often this has been a no policy baseline with no explicit mitigative action taken. The use of such baselines is under increasing scrutiny, raising a wider question around the appropriate use of reference scenarios in mitigation analysis. In this Perspective, we assess three critical issues relevant to the use of reference scenarios, demonstrating how different policy contexts merit the use of different scenarios. We provide recommendations to the modelling community on best practice in the creation, use and communication of reference scenarios.
Sustainable and socially just transition to a post-lignite era in Greece: a multi-level perspective
Lignite has long dominated Greece’s electricity system, boosting economic growth and energy security, given the abundant domestic resources. In line with its national and international commitments to climate action and sustainable development, the country is currently facing the urgent need to transform its energy system, overcome its technological lock-ins, and transition to a low-carbon economy.
A robust augmented ε-constraint method (AUGMECON-R) for finding exact solutions of multi-objective linear programming problems
Systems can be unstructured, uncertain and complex, and their optimisation often requires operational research techniques. In this study, we introduce AUGMECON-R, a robust variant of the augmented ε-constraint algorithm, for solving multi-objective linear programming problems, by drawing from the weaknesses of AUGMECON 2, one of the most widely used improvements of the ε-constraint method.
Temporary reduction in daily global CO2 emissions during the COVID-19 forced confinement
Government policies during the COVID-19 pandemic have drastically altered patterns of energy demand around the world. Many international borders were closed and populations were confined to their homes, which reduced transport and changed consumption patterns. Here we compile government policies and activity data to estimate the decrease in CO2 emissions during forced confinements.
The importance of stakeholders in scoping risk assessments—Lessons from low-carbon transitions
Identifying the risks that could impact a low-carbon transition is a prerequisite to assessing and managing these risks. We systematically characterise risks associated with decarbonisation pathways in fifteen case studies conducted in twelve countries around the world. We find that stakeholders from business, government, NGOs, and others supplied some 40 % of these risk inputs, significantly widening the scope of risks considered by academics and experts.
Emissions – the ‘business as usual’ story is misleading
More than a decade ago, climate scientists and energy modellers made a choice about how to describe the effects of emissions on Earth’s future climate. That choice has had unintended consequences which today are hotly debated. With the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) moving into its final stages in 2020, there is now a rare opportunity to reboot.
Navigating various flexibility mechanisms under European burden-sharing
In July 2016, the European Commission presented its proposal for a regulation to reduce greenhouse gases emissions in sectors not covered by the emissions trading system with regard to post-2020 binding targets. The proposal extends the burden-sharing framework designed in 2008. This new burden-sharing, called by the European Commission as the Effort Sharing Regulation, is based on a GDP per capita rule and aims to reflect the economic capacity of each European Member State on the basis of its relative wealth.
Developing Green: A Case for the Brazilian Manufacturing Industry
The recent IPCC Special Report on global warming of 1.5 °C emphasizes that rapid action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is vital to achieving the climate mitigation goals of the Paris Agreement. The most-needed substantial upscaling of investments in GHG mitigation options in all sectors, and particularly in manufacturing sectors, can be an opportunity for a green economic development leap in developing countries.
Contested energy futures, conflicted rewards? Examining low-carbon transition risks and governance dynamics in China's built environment
China's urbanisation has caused city populations to grow rapidly, boosting continuous development and scaling up the construction industry more intensely. The building sector is thus a key area to consider for climate change mitigation efforts. This study initially seeks to explore the development of a green transition pathway for the Chinese building sector, informed by national and local low-carbon policies and strategies, with specific references to Beijing and Shanghai. Acknowledging that the barriers and impacts of these policies have not been explored in depth and in consideration of the multiplicity of stakeholder views, we then set out to collect stakeholders’ perspectives of implementation and consequential risks associated with the envisaged transition and with the policies aiming to promote this transition. These concerns are evaluated in a multiple-criteria group decision making approach. By focusing on the resulting most critical implementation barriers, we then outline five plausible socioeconomic scenarios, against which we simulate the impacts of the considered policy strategies on the low-carbon transition of the Chinese built environment as well the extent of their key possible negative consequences, by means of fuzzy cognitive maps.
Integrated policy assessment and optimisation over multiple sustainable development goals in Eastern Africa
Heavy reliance on traditional biomass for household energy in eastern Africa has significant negative health and environmental impacts. The African context for energy access is rather different from historical experiences elsewhere as challenges in achieving energy access have coincided with major climate ambitions. Policies focusing on household energy needs in eastern Africa contribute to at least three sustainable development goals (SDGs): climate action, good health, and improved energy access. This study uses an integrated assessment model to simulate the impact of land policies and technology subsidies, as well as the interaction of both, on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, exposure to air pollution and energy access in eastern Africa under a range of socioeconomic pathways. We find that land policies focusing on increasing the sustainable output of biomass resources can reduce GHG emissions in the region by about 10%, but also slightly delay progress in health and energy access goals. An optimised portfolio of energy technology subsidies consistent with a global Green Climate Funds budget of 30–35 billion dollar, can yield another 10% savings in GHG emissions, while decreasing mortality related to air pollution by 20%, and improving energy access by up to 15%. After 2030, both land and technology policies become less effective, and more dependent on the overall development path of the region. The analysis shows that support for biogas technology should be prioritised in both the short and long term, while financing liquefied petroleum gas and ethanol technologies also has synergetic climate, health and energy access benefits. Instead, financing PV technologies is mostly relevant for improving energy access, while charcoal and to a lesser extend fuelwood technologies are relevant for curbing GHG emissions if their finance is linked to land policies. We suggest that integrated policy analysis is needed in the African context for simultaneously reaching progress in multiple SDGs.