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.

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[Summary]Measuring the progress and impacts of decarbonising British electricity

  • Title:  Measuring the progress and impacts of decarbonising British electricity
  • Date: December 2016
  • Author: Staffell, I.
  • Published: Energy Policy

Most advanced economies around the world are striving to cut its greenhouse gas emissions through a diversity of policies. But how could one measure the progress? This paper gives a good example of examining which data sources to look into, how to calculate carbon emissions from different sources, and what uncertainties are.

Continue reading [Summary]Measuring the progress and impacts of decarbonising British electricity

[Summary] Electricity Generation from Renewables in the United States

  • Title: Electricity generation from renewables in the United States: Resource potential, current usage, technical status, challenges, strategies, policies, and future directions 
  • Date: April 2013
  • Author: Atif Osmani, Jun Zhang, Vinay Gonela, Iddrisu Awudu
  • Published: Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews

Continue reading [Summary] Electricity Generation from Renewables in the United States

Associating GHG Emissions with Electricity Generation

It is elementary: a large part of greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to power generation, especially to fossil fuel combustion. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), electricity production accounted for 30 percent of the U. S.’s total GHG emissions in 2014, marking the largest share [1]. About two-thirds of the produced electricity comes from fossil fuel combustion, mostly coal and natural gas [2]. It can be implied that employing less carbon-intensive technologies such as renewables and nuclear—although the latter can be politically charged—would lead to less GHG emissions.

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Little Ice Age Reflected in Dutch Landscape Paintings

  • Title: Ice and snow in paintings of Little Ice Age winters
  • Date of publication: February 2005
  • Authors: Peter J. Robinson
  • Published by: Weather

Artists will probably find beauty in a piece of Dutch landscape paintings in the 17th Century, but climate scientist may see it as a data set; art work can be important evidence of the Little Ice Age that lasted from 1300 to 1850 [1]. An interesting study titled “Ice and snow in paintings of Little Ice Age winters” examines how artists in Europe depicted the colder weather and how we can get information about climate from those paintings.

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Observed vs. Modeled Climate Sensitivity

  • Title: Reconciled climate response estimates from climate models and the energy budget of Earth
  • Date: June 2016
  • Authors: Richardson et al.
  • Published by: Nature Climate Change

Naturally, there are always some gaps between the real world and the results from simulation models. In case of climate sensitivity, which refers to the temperature increase from doubling CO2, the real-world data that has been historically recorded gives us around 1.3 , while models gives us a little bit higher value. Climate skeptics often use this fact to support their argument; that global warming is not in fact that serious as scientists predict. However, a study published by Nature Climate Change this last June, Reconciled climate response estimates from climate models and the energy budget of Earth (Richardson et al., 2016), addresses why climate sensitivity is predicted differently from climate models and observed data.

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‘Recycling’ the Funds from Carbon Tax or Cap and Trade

Reducing the national emissions often involves a powerful policy tool such as carbon tax or emission trading. While many focus on the effectiveness of such measures in cutting carbon emissions, there have been some serious discussions on how to spend the money gained from tax or cap-and-trade auctions. We are talking about some BIG money here; for example, California is reaping over $2 million annually from its cap and trade, and the proceeds are expected to grow over time [1].

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[번역] 파리 기후 협정의 의미

This article was translated into Korean by Hoon Yun, under the permission of original author David Roberts (david.roberts@vox.com). Original article available at http://www.vox.com/2015/12/15/10172238/paris-climate-treaty-conceptual-breakthrough.

파리 기후협정으로 말할 것 같으면 미 부통령 조셉 바이든이 빈정거린 것처럼 ‘퍽이나 호들갑 떨 일’이다. 기후변화는 이제 시작일 뿐인데, 이를 해결했다기보다는 국가들의 접근법을 수정하게 만든 일종의 ‘개념상의 돌파구(conceptual breakthrough)’라고 보아야 할 것이다. 협정을 세세하게 들여다 보면 그나마도 돌파구인지 헷갈릴 정도다. 여기서는 한 발짝 물러서서, 큰 그림을 보며 파리협정과 기후변화에 대해 고찰해 보도록 하자.


Continue reading [번역] 파리 기후 협정의 의미

[Summary] 10 practical steps to create an Emissions Trading System

“Currently, ETSs are operating across four continents in 35 countries, 13 states or provinces, and seven cities, covering 40 percent of global GDP with additional systems under development.”

“This week, the WB launched “Emissions Trading in Practice: Handbook on Design and Implementation”, a new guide for policymakers that distills best practices and key lessons from more than a decade of practical experience with emissions trading worldwide.”

  1. Set the scope: i.e. geographic area, sectors, emissions sources, and GHGs to be regulated
  2. Set the cap: collect robust emissions data, and determine the level of the cap and its long-term trajectory
  3. Distribute the emissions allowances to regulated entities: potential leakage issues should be addressed)
  4. Consider allowing the use of offset credits: generated from uncovered sources and sectors in the ETS
  5. Set timeframes for the reporting and compliance period: consider flexibility from banking/borrowing
  6. Consider market stability design features: such as a price floor, ceiling, or allowances reserves
  7. Define enforcement of participants’ obligations and
  8. government oversight: monitoring, reporting, and independent verification of emissions, penalties for noncompliance, and oversight of the market to address risks of fraud and manipulation.
  9. Assure continuous engagement with stakeholders 
  10. Allow regular reviews of ETS performance

Terms: PMR (World Bank’s Partnership for Market Readiness), B-PMR (Business Partnership for Market Readiness), IETA (International Emissions Trading Association)

Carbon Budgets; Why So Many?

  • Title: Differences between carbon budget estimates unravelled
  • Author: Joeri Rogelj et al.
  • Published: Nature Climate Change (2015)

The famously debated 2-degree goal is set based on a carbon budget, which has not been presented as a single number. There are mainly three types of carbon budgets: a) budget for CO2-induced warming only, b) threshold exceedance budgets (to calculate multi-gas warming), and c) threshold avoidance budgets. These different approaches, coupled with various uncertainties accompanying model simulations under a number of scenarios, lead to the conclusion: the scientifically most robust number (a) is not be sufficient in the real world, and eventually non-CO2 gases should be addressed as well.

Terms: the transient climate response to cumulative emissions of carbon (TCRE), threshold exceedance budgets (TEBs), threshold avoidance budgets (TABs)