The Paris Agreement achieves global consensus on the ambition to limit anthropogenic climate warming to “well below 2°C” and to pursue efforts towards 1.5°C.
Integrated assessment models (IAMs) are a key methodological tool for systematically investigating long term trade-offs between the energy system, the climate system and the broader socio-economic systems. Such models play an important role in underpinning the scientific debate on climate change mitigation and adaptation options. Their results inform assessments by bodies such as the IPCC, and feed directly or indirectly into advice taken up by national and international policy makers, industry, regulators and citizens groups.
In this project we investigate the ambitious Paris Agreement 1.5˚C goal, through novel integrated multi-model multi-scale coupling of detailed technology rich energy systems models for China, Ireland and the World.
We aim to outline the impacts of additional costs and trade-offs of rapid deep decarbonisation, and give critical insights into technology roadmaps and policy pathways on how the zero carbon transition to sustainability could affect societal sectors and household income groups.
We aim to quantify the impacts of a zero carbon energy system upon local-air pollution, public health, water quality, climate damages, employment and economic stimulus.
WP1 – TIMES-GEO
We will collaboratively develop a new state of the art global energy systems model, cognisant of spatial and temporal resolution weaknesses of current modelling approaches, one that is scientifically and thermodynamically consistent, with a structure which is optimal for linking to economy models, and that is fit for purpose for global policy analysis, assessment of nationally determined contributions, and that will contribute to the IPCC 6th assessment report.
WP2 – Energy Service Demand Projections Model
A key sensitivity underpinning how successful we will be in pursing efforts to keep post-industrial temperature increase below 1.5˚C are the socioeconomic conditions which drive future sustainable development and energy systems models. Typically, energy systems models tend to focus on technological solutions with minimal sensitivity treatment of the socio-economic drivers. The future macroeconomic outlook is uncertain. Multiple social and demographic trend-breaks make traditional macroeconomic models unsuitable to forecasting future macroeconomic outlooks. For this reason, a new approach is required, which considers the level of uncertainty of the likely macroeconomic, socio-demographic trend drivers over the 21st century. The level of prosperity and energy service demands will be driven by demographic trends dictated by regional educational attainment, rates of urbanisation, institutional stability, energy system structure, sustainable and resilient practices, and a maturation of the global ability to collaborate and cooperate collectively towards a common goal, or to digress into regional rivalry.
This work package will map the socioeconomic solution space to achieve the well below 2˚C scenarios (WB2CS) using the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways narratives. The SSPs consist of 5 data driven narratives which outline 5 differing potential futures with varying degrees of challenges to mitigation and adaptation. SSP1 describes a sustainable low growth in material consumption future, SSP2 describes a middle of the road future, SSP3 describes a fragmented global economy with regional rivalry, SSP4 describes an inequitable future with mitigation only in high income regions, and SSP5 describes a fossil fuel development future with little concern for global problems only focussing on local environment.
Detailed sectoral activities data consistent with the SSPs have been generated by OECD ENVLINKS CGE model which will drive the TIMES-GEO model in its initial calibration and harmonisation runs prior to hybridisation. We will develop an ecologically consistent energy service demand model consistent with the SSP narratives and benchmarked against current data and the SSP marker models. This will enable sensitivity analysis to explore the feasible solution space with reducing carbon budgets for feasible development pathways from TIMES-GEO pursing a temperature limit of WB2C in each of the SSPs.
WP3 – IMED CGE
This work package will combine with outputs from WP1 and WP2 to develop the framework and data handling process pass data between TIMES-GEO and the top down macroeconomic energy service demand framework to create a soft linked hybrid Integrated Assessment Model. This data handling framework is critical to ensure internal consistency between each models theoretical underpinnings and that the energy technology, energy flows, investment, and energy service demand data handling and transfer. This work package will enable initial scenario analysis utilising SSP narratives in conjunction with the hybrid model under carbon constraints and climate temperature constraints to develop regionally disaggregated policy pathways for transition. Alongside climate mitigation transformation pathways, we will also explore air pollution and health impacts, key mitigation technologies, trade, international co-operation, the potential role of One Belt and One Road Policy in China.
WP4 – Scenario Analysis
This work will build on mitigation pathway analysis in WP3 to develop insights into key technological uncertainty, technological path dependency and policy requirements at a regional level to develop mitigation technology portfolios with international collaborative R&D frameworks. Key technologies to be explored are negative emissions technologies such as bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS), Direct Air Capture (DAC), Enhanced Weather (EW) and nascent path dependent technologies, as well as small scale granular technologies with the potential for disruptive innovation and a step change in energy demand.
WP5 – CHINA-TIMES
This worlpackage will build a nested 30 region China-TIMES_30r energy system model incorporating provincial level regions for local scale municipal planning in the global context. The baseline scenarios will aim to include health damage impacts from local air pollution, climate damages and ecosystem service losses resulting from current climate change and environmental damages so that the mitigation scenarios may have a more scientifically rigorous counterfactual scenario to compare to, rather than the current business-as-usual economic projections without appropriate accounting of climate damage externalities to business, families and productive sustainable ecosystems.
WP6 – TIMES_IRELAND
This work package will develop a nested multiregional TIMES_Ireland3p0 energy system model incorporating county and city level regions for local scale municipal planning in the global context.
WP7 – IMPACTS
This work package aims to utilise the new modelling capacity and frameworks to explore the current grand challenges in energy systems analysis, mitigation policy and sustainable development and to frame the analysis with maximum impact for stakeholder engagement. We envisage a new model for stakeholder engagement that is a fully participatory process enabling genuine citizen engagement in scientific and social dialogue. This analysis could include the assessment of the smoky coal ban in Ireland, and renewable penetration in Ireland. It could include also analysis of the new coal quota laws in China to reduce coal consumption.
Research questions may include:
a) How can Ireland learn from China’s experience in energy technology innovation and diffusion?
b) How can China benefit from experiences in Ireland, such as the smoky coal ban, in developing coal consumption quotas for China?
c) How can China best learn from experiences in Ireland on increasing renewable electricity penetration?
WP8 – Communications and Outreach
Insure impact through uptake of outputs and by maximising project visibility.
A project communication strategy will be developed, which will help to plan for targeted audiences and keep a record of dissemination activities and their impacts. It will include Education and Public Engagement (EPE) activities, workshops, industrial engagement, and transfer of researchers from Ireland and China. In order to disseminate all information as widely as possible a range of media and activities will be used.
WP9 – Management and Planning
This project will also include a task for management and planning, with input from all researchers and project participants to ensure timeline project delivery. There shall be a monthly progress review between UCC, TU and PKU.