Clean technology support can to some extent make up for weak CO2 pricing and hence help keep the two degrees target within reach, a new study shows. Even if the world climate summit in Paris later this year is successful in striking a climate deal, it might not bring about sharp greenhouse-gas cuts in the near-term. However, emission targets could be strengthened by complementary policies, such as support for renewables, a ban on new coal-fired power plants and an initially modest global minimum price on CO2.
If such a policy package – each component of which has already been enacted in some countries – were to be put into practice globally now, this could also pave the way for a clean economy with faster long-term CO2 reductions after 2030.
“Economic theory suggests that we’d need a global price on greenhouse-gas emissions to keep warming below the 2 degrees Celsius threshold, and this price would probably have to be more than 30 US dollars per ton of CO2, previous studies showed,” says lead author Christoph Bertram of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
“This seems rather unrealistic, given the track record of policies so far enacted.” This is why the new analysis examines second-best policy mixes. “For the first time, we can show that until 2030 a sub-optimal price for CO2 of only 7 US dollars can initiate a necessary transformation of the energy system if at the same time states enact a range of technology polices.”
Support for renewables, CCS, and a ban on new coal-fired power plants
Technology support schemes could take various forms, from feed-in tariffs to quotas for low-emission electricity sources or tax credits, but also direct support for technological innovation, including the demonstration and upscaling of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. Regulating the most polluting technologies should complement that. If only renewables are pushed into the market, as currently seen in Germany, the use of natural gas decreases while use of cheap but dirty coal remains unaffected or even expands.
“Successful climate policies not only require reducing emissions in the short term, but also to pave the way for deep decarbonization in the long term,” says project leader Gunnar Luderer of PIK. “To this end, cleverly designed technology policies can bring essential green technologies to the market and avoid further build-up of emissions-intensive infrastructure.” As an example, expanding coal-fired electricity production not only increases current emissions, but due to the long life-time of power plants also hampers future emission-reduction potential. A ban on new coal-fired plants without CCS, as currently implemented in the United States, therefore proves to be a valuable element of a global climate policy mix.
The researchers used a state-of-the art computer model of the global energy economy. Such models have been widely used for the analysis of scenarios with pricing policies of varying stringency. The present study is the first to compare the performance of a variety of alternative policy instruments and to quantify their interaction. For example, technology policies work better with a carbon tax than with a pure cap-and-trade scheme where prices can freely fluctuate and in extreme cases even fall to zero.
Lowering the hurdles for climate policy
“So far, it seems clear that most countries will make heavy use of technology policies in their efforts to limit emissions. It is therefore crucial for them to know how much they could gain by combining these with a predictable CO2 price, even a moderate one,” says co-author Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist of PIK. “Admittedly, a sub-optimal policy mix as studied here leads to inefficiencies, and hence overall higher costs, but it implies lower distributional impacts and institutional requirements compared with the optimal solution of high carbon pricing. Therefore, in such a scenario the barrier to start action is lowered. And if we want to contain the impacts of climate change, it is essential to start comprehensive and meaningful mitigation policies between 2015 and 2020. Otherwise, both risks and costs increase substantially.”
Article: Bertram, C., Luderer, G., Pietzcker, R., Schmid, E., Kriegler, E., Edenhofer, O. (2015): Complementing carbon prices with technology policies to keep climate targets within reach. Nature Climate Change (Advance Online Publication) [DOI:10.1038/NCLIMATE2514]
Weblink to the article once it is published: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2514
For further information please contact:
PIK press office
Phone: +49 331 288 25 07
Jonas Viering | PIK Potsdam
Further reports about: > CCS > CO2 > Climate > Climate Impact Research > Energy > Klimafolgenforschung > Nature Climate Change > PIK > Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung > carbon capture > coal-fired power plants > electricity > green technologies > greenhouse-gas emissions > natural gas > power plants
Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut
Species Richness – a false friend? Scientists want to improve biodiversity assessments
01.08.2017 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences