C-ROADS: Modeling Policy Impacts on GHG Emissions

Even though the United States withdrew itself from the landmark Paris Agreement, countries around the world are still committed to cut their carbon emissions in accordance with their respective INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) in the UNFCCC framework. Nonetheless, experts say there exists a ‘gap’ between the collective outcome of these efforts and what is required to achieve the so-called 2-degree goal. How do they figure out the existence and the width of such a gap? There is a special tool to quantify and simulate the effects of various policies on the emissions.

One tool is Climate Rapid Overview and Decision Support, or C-ROADS, which is designed to show “climate impacts of policy scenarios that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions [1].” This tool is developed by several MIT scholars based on MIT professor Jay Forrester’s global model for modeling carbon emissions and global temperature. The developers later found Climate Interactive in order to promote C-ROADS, which is now helping governments in the world to design their climate policy as well as utilized in research and analysis papers including the UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report.

This free software generates figures for greenhouse gas emissions, atmospheric concentrations, global temperature and per-capita emissions. Based on these features, the impact of INDCs were analyzed to determine whether they can successfully stabilize the increase of the Earth’s temperature within 2 degrees by 2100. By changing various parameters such as annual reduction rate and reductions peak year, governments can get the visualization of the impact of their decisions from the long-term perspective.

Of course, the governments should still set detailed goals in each sector and calculate the aggregate impact of individual policy schemes. And the tool does not consider every single country in the world; rather, it focuses on major economies and regards others as a block. In addition, The results largely depend on a series of assumptions and intrinsically bear uncertainties. However, it is still helpful to know that there is a tool to rely on, especially for policymakers who are not always equipped with the most sophisticated climate science knowledge and relevant data.

[1] http://mitsloan.mit.edu/sustainability/profile/climate-interactive-advancing-mits-global-change-modeling-legacy

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