IIASA colleagues will join world leaders and diplomats at the 28th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. IIASA researchers are organizing and/or participating in several side events where they will present the latest research on how to reach ambitious targets on climate.
COP28 UAE is expected to convene over 70,000 participants, including heads of state, government officials, international industry leaders, private sector representatives, academics, experts, youth, and non-state actors. As mandated by the Paris Climate Agreement, the event will deliver the first ever Global Stocktake – a comprehensive evaluation of progress against climate goals. COP28 will facilitate a process for all parties to agree upon a clear roadmap to accelerate progress through a pragmatic global energy transition and a “leave no one behind” approach to inclusive climate action.
This science-policy meeting will provide a forum to discuss latest modelling research results on how to accelerate GHG emission cuts to achieve system-wide ambitious decarbonisation in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
We are pleased to invite you to an upcoming science-policy event to discuss how to accelerate climate action to achieve a rapid system wide transformation.
2023 is a critical year for climate action, both internationally and at EU-level. The first Global Stocktake will conclude at COP28 in November. So far, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are not in line with climate change mitigation pathways consistent with the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. Much more ambition is needed to keep global warming below 1.5°C.
Researchers will share new insights on increasing ambition levels through enhanced policies and more advanced mitigation measures and lifestyle changes. Accelerated emission reduction measures in key sectors will be discussed, including the electricity, industry, transport, and buildings sectors. The overarching picture is complemented by insights on how to make the transition feasible and fair, including findings on income and employment impacts on the EU and global level and implications of feasibility and equity considerations for international climate policy making.
The research results presented at the event were generated in the context of the H2020 projects ENGAGE and NAVIGATE that are coming to an end this year.
Click here for the event agenda. If you wish to attend the event, please register here as seats are limited.
IIASA recently launched the Climate Solutions Explorer – a comprehensive resource that visualizes and presents vital data about climate mitigation, climate impacts, vulnerabilities, and risks arising from development and climate change.
The website utilizes the latest data and state-of-the-art models to assess future trends related to development- and climate-induced challenges. By offering up-to-date information on climate mitigation and impacts, the Climate Solutions Explorer aims to be a go-to platform for anyone interested in accessing the latest research on climate change and net-zero mitigation pathways.
The Climate Solutions Explorer is the result of a long-standing collaboration and contributions from various sources within and external to the ENGAGE project – a global consortium consisting of nearly 30 partners, coordinated by IIASA and co-led by several other institutions. The project, which has been running since September 2019 and will conclude in December this year, aims to explore the feasibility of pathways that align with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
So, what can you expect from the Climate Solutions Explorer website?
“The platform offers a diverse range of content, including an interactive map that visualizes climate change impacts, national and regional data dashboards showcasing impacts and mitigation pathways, and articles covering a wide array of climate-related topics and countries. The website also provides publicly available data, allowing users to delve deep into their preferred areas of exploration,” explains Edward Byers, a researcher in the IIASA Energy, Climate, and Environment Program and coordinator of the website.
One particularly interesting feature of the website is the “Net Zero Stories” section, which features narratives written by local experts. These stories document national transitions towards sustainable, net-zero societies and offer insightful analyses on the trade-offs and co-benefits associated with these transformations. With an understanding that sustainable transitions have commonalities but also regional variations, the Net Zero Stories shed light on the unique challenges and opportunities faced by different countries.
For those interested in specific countries, the Climate Solutions Explorer offers national dashboards that consider variables such as socioeconomics, emissions, mitigation options, and climate impacts at varying levels of exposure and risk. This enables users to gain valuable insights into the climate landscape of specific countries and the potential implications of global warming.
“The launch of the Climate Solutions Explorer represents a significant step forward in our collective efforts to tackle climate change. By providing easy access to the latest data, cutting-edge models, and expert analysis, this comprehensive website empowers individuals, businesses, and policymakers to make informed decisions and contribute to a more sustainable future. Whether you’re interested in understanding the impacts of climate change or exploring net-zero pathways, the Climate Solutions Explorer is your go-to resource for all things climate-related,” Byers concludes.
Bas van Ruijven will represent the ENGAGE consortium at the upcoming European Climate and Energy Modelling Platform (ECEMP). His keynote will cover the Feasible scenarios to increase climate ambition.
The annual ECEMP conference brings together Europe’s climate and energy modelling community over a three-day period in a forum for deep exchange of research and modelling practice and varied discussions. The event will feature a balanced mix of high-level panel discussions and interactive workshop sessions to enable a peer-reviewed digest of models and policy insights for the transformation of the European energy system. The ECEMP 2023 conference will be a platform for exchange among researchers and modelling teams from across Europe; from H2020 projects, representatives of the European Commission as well as partners from industry and civil society.
In agreement with the European Commission, the former EMP-E Conference has adopted a new name, “European Climate and Energy Modelling Platform (ECEMP)”, to consider the increasing role of climate policies and climate change and their impact on energy demand and supply planning.
IIASA Senior Research Scholar Bas van Ruijven will be presenting at the conference.
As the world faces the risks of dangerous climate change, policymakers, industry and civil society leaders are counting on Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) to inform and guide strategies to deliver on the objectives of the Paris Agreement (PA) and subsequent agreements. ENGAGE has responded to this challenge by engaging these stakeholders (see Section 9) in co-producing a new generation of global and national decarbonization pathways (Sections 5 and 6). Tools and approaches have been developed to explore the multidimensional feasibility of these decarbonization pathways (Section 3) and identify opportunities to strengthen climate policies by minimizing feasibility risks. New emission pathways have been designed to minimize overshoot of the temperature target (Section 4), explore the timing of net-zero emissions to meet the Paris temperature target, and reduce the reliance on controversial negative emissions technologies. However, global decarbonization pathways are only feasible in as much as they are aligned with national policies and plans, so the project has paid particular attention to aligning and reconciling global decarbonization pathways with national emission reduction policies and pledges and international governance mechanisms (Sections 5 and 6). The project has also quantified avoided impacts of climate change, co-benefits, and trade-offs of climate policy (Section 8) and explored the effort-sharing implications of decarbonization pathways (Section 7).
The results summarized in the following sections could only be achieved with multi-, inter- and trans-disciplinary expertise. The project team brought together a global consortium of leading IAM teams from Europe and non-EU countries (Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Thailand, the USA, and Vietnam). In total 74% of global CO2 emissions in 2015 were originating from countries represented in the consortium (incl. external partners), including 9 of the 11 largest emitters. The countries range between high-income countries (e.g., EU, Japan, USA) and lower middle-income countries (India, Vietnam). The ensemble of Integrated Assessment Models that has been used covers a wide range of approaches. The variety of different model types helped identify robust insights that hold across different models.
On March 29 – 30, 2023, a Stakeholder Dialogue was held in the Serrambi Resort, near the city of Recife, Brazil. The aim of the meeting was to present and discuss results from the ENGAGE project with key stakeholders from Brazil and Latin America. The meeting was attended by 28 stakeholders and 27 ENGAGE project members.
In the first session of the meeting, Roberto Schaeffer (COPPE) presented results from the COFFEE- TEA modelling framework, which show that Latin America becomes net zero roughly 10 years before the rest of the world. A particularly interesting result is that biomass is especially important for transport and industry, with the transport sector relying on biofuels for up to 60% of its final energy. This contrasts with the electrification observed in other regions (e.g., China, Europe, US). The model results also show that when different burden-sharing schemes to allocate the remaining carbon budget for limiting global average temperature increase are explored, Brazil reaches net zero up to 20 years later than when following a global least-cost approach.
Group discussions after this presentation focussed on Latin American perspectives regarding the future of fossil fuels, poverty alleviation, economic development priorities, the energy transition and R&D, and land use and deforestation. These discussions highlighted the diversity of the region and the inequality within it leading to the need for a just transition of the energy system; the importance of fiscal revenues for many countries; and the potential for stranded assets. Financing was seen as a crucial element, with many opportunities for investing in infrastructure and new technologies in developing countries. The dependence of the poorest on fossil fuels, while being most vulnerable to climate impacts, is another significant challenge in the region. Cultural aspects and a “development first, pay later” paradigm were mentioned as factors constraining individual change. To address deforestation, particularly in Brazil where land-grabbing is responsible for some 70-80% of total forests lost, participants suggested strong government regulations and financial incentives, such as carbon markets and taxes, as well as the use of new techniques in the agricultural sector.
The first day of the meeting ended with a survey administered by Elina Brutschin (IIASA) to gauge stakeholders’ preferences for particular scenarios, as part of work on just transitions. This was followed by a presentation by Ed Byers (IIASA) of the work on the Climate Solutions Explorer (CSE) being carried out by the ENGAGE project (https://www.climate-solutions-explorer.eu/). A poster session then provided participants with the opportunity to discuss a variety of work carried out within the ENGAGE project and was closed with a facilitated reflection on the discussions on the first day.
Key points from the discussion included:
Municipalities and communities that rely on the oil industry for revenue face challenges during the transition. While they do not receive taxes directly from oil production, they benefit from taxes related to the sale of oil and gasoline and need to explore alternative sources of income.
There are many political responses to climate change, including new policies, instruments, energy market designs, and regulations to promote a faster transition to net zero emissions. However, it is not clear to society what has already been achieved. Perhaps we need to change the way we communicate to the public about the progress made but also about the future scenarios.
There is a need for public policies that can improve the lives of people, especially the poor and marginalised, while decarbonizing. Reality checks are hitherto missing.
There are different levels of institutional capacity and economic situations among Latin American countries. However, all countries face vulnerability to climate change impacts and wealth inequalities. Working together, decision-makers and academics can bridge knowledge gaps.
Complex challenges are ahead of us. Models are not able to incorporate all of the complexity of the real world. Other methods are needed to take issues like inequality, quality of life and human behaviour into account and complement the models with narratives.
Results from the ENGAGE project also underline the need to take a broader perspective than only focussing on climate change in order to ensure that proposed solutions do not create other environmental problems.
The second day of the meeting started with a presentation by Alexandre Szklo (COPPE) on the decarbonization plan for Pernambuco state. Based on the downscaling of global models and results from one Brazilian model. The results showed that the barriers to reducing emissions include: unburned fossil resources (stranded assets); carbon lock-in; and equity (just transition) issues. Furthermore, model results suggested that investments in new oil refineries could be necessary. In the discussion, attention focussed on the “hard-to-abate sectors”, for which high abatement costs seem to be a major barrier to reducing emissions.
This was followed by a “storytelling session”. Samanta Della Bella (General Manager of Climate Change. Secretary of Environment and Sustainability of Pernambuco) described her experience in Pernambuco state in the Northeast of Brazil, a region facing desertification and high poverty rates. A trajectory was planned until 2050, based on socio-economic modelling. Short- and long-term indicators were established. The main challenges are implementing and monitoring the plan. Creating the roadmap was personally demanding, requiring patience, communication, and a commitment to moving forward.
Jhonathan Godoy (Coordinator, local HUB Pernambuco of the Youth Climate Leaders) shared the story of the Climate Professional Day in the Youth Climate Leaders organisation. As a facilitator and coordinator, he aimed to discuss climate-related work on various levels beyond academia and research. They developed an educational project to study the mangroves in his city. The team discovered the importance of mangroves in carbon sequestration and how deforestation of the ecosystem led to flooding, affecting the lives and income of the communities living near them. To raise awareness, they collaborated with local artists to create a web documentary that explored environmental and social issues. The initiative served as an eye-opening experience for those in the community who previously did not associate their challenges with climate change.
Andres Akerberg (Executive Director Política y Legislación Ambiental (POLEA), Mexico City) described how he worked closely with decision-makers to promote climate legislation at the national level in Mexico. Over the course of three years, his team successfully updated Mexico’s climate law and implemented new laws in 11 out of 32 states. The process is still ongoing in another seven states and has also served as a form of “collective therapy,” as Andres described it, going beyond technical and legal aspects to engage as many people as possible.
In the discussion after these three stories, more stories were added by other participants, including from Eva Marina Valencia Leñero, who worked to create a coalition in Mexico City focused on the concept of doughnut economics. Further discussions focussed on the issue of deforestation in Brazil, which is complex and requires that loopholes in regulations are addressed. Tackling the deforestation issue requires a holistic approach that considers the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of the problem.
The meeting ended with a “World Café“ discussing a series of “hot topics” that had been identified during the meeting.
At a table focussing on the use of models, the participants emphasised the need to improve integrated assessment models by addressing their limitations, incorporating broader sustainable development aspects, and better reflecting real-world complexities, such as human behaviour and uncertainty. At a second table on cross-scale linkages, the discussion highlighted the need for a coordinated approach to sustainable development that connects top-down and bottom-up policies, considers local specificities, and promotes capacity building and technological development at all levels. This linked to a third table that focussed on the interplay between the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and mitigation efforts to achieve a low-carbon, 1.5oC scenario. A fourth group discussed key feasibility concerns with respect to decarbonization at the national level and concluded that institutional concerns, particularly law enforcement, are the primary feasibility issue, with examples from Brazil and Mexico highlighting the volatility of enforcement depending on the political regime. The group also noted the challenges faced by top-down approaches, which may not consider local community needs, and the importance of combining them with bottom-up approaches for success.
In a final round, participants were asked to reflect on the meeting. Participants felt that the meeting demonstrated the need for dialogue and communication to strengthen cooperation in achieving societal goals, while also showing the challenge of communicating complex information. Members of the ENGAGE project team noted their learning about Latin America as a whole, including the interest of several countries in the region in producing more ambitious decarbonization plans. The team members also noted the discussions about the usefulness of models in thinking consistently about the future, while recognizing that the use of models is only one part of supporting the transition to a low-carbon future. Looking ahead, while it is clear that other states and countries could benefit from the use of integrated assessment models and approaches, there is a need for capacity building in the Latin American region to develop the models and continue the dialogue between researchers and other stakeholders.
The stakeholder workshop on progress and cutting-edge issues with respect to China’s climate change and co-benefit policy, hosted by the National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation (NCSC), was held in Beijing on June 29. The meeting was a face-to-face event with additional broad online participation and was chaired by Chai Qimin, Director of the Strategy and Planning Department of NCSC, and Tian Danyu, Deputy Director.
Opening remarks were made by Xu Huaqing, Director of NCSC; Vicky Pollard, European Commission; Liu Yang, Director of Strategy Division, Department of Climate Change, Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE); and, on behalf of the ENGAGE project, Bas van Ruijven.
Xu Huaqing noted that the updated Nationally Determined Contribution plan developed by NCSC was adopted by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and The State Council. In this plan, China carbon dioxide emissions should peak before 2030, carbon neutrality should be achieved before 2060 and by 2030 carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP will be reduced by more than 65% compared with 2005. The proportion of non-fossil energy in primary energy consumption will reach about 25%, the forest stock will increase by 6 billion cubic meters over 2005, and the total installed capacity of wind power and solar power will reach more than 1.2 billion kilowatts.
After an opening session, the first part of the workshop started with a series of presentations that focused on carbon emission reduction and pollution reduction in China under different policy scenarios. This was followed by short contributions from participants that addressed the following questions: What are the latest developments in China’s policies and actions to address climate change? What are the main synergies between reducing pollution and carbon emission? What are the key policies or key issues that deserve attention in follow-up research?
The second part of the workshop then focused on emission reduction pathways in the industry, energy, construction, and transportation sectors. After five short presentations, participants discussed the medium and long-term emission reduction policies for key industries in China, the impact of the synergistic policies implemented in China to reduce carbon and pollution and the prospects for new power systems and hydrogen energy development.
The workshop participants included policy makers, representatives from business, industry and environmental NGOs, and academia. It provided an excellent opportunity to exchange information on ongoing research on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
As climate policymaking becomes increasingly informed by model simulations, it becomes crucial for researchers to better understand how climate-energy-economy models work, how they are used, and how to inform policymaking through their output. The NAVIGATE and ENGAGE projects, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, are therefore launching a Summer School aimed at providing advanced training for young international scholars, advanced PhD students and early postdoc fellows, working on integrated assessment models.
Finally, after almost two years of online meetings, the ENGAGE project organized a face-to-face stakeholder dialogue. Hosted by PBL in the Hague, the meeting was attended by 23 stakeholders (of which four joined online) and supported by 10 members of the project team for a total of 37 participants.
In an opening warm-up round, participants were asked to briefly voice their expectations for the upcoming UNFCCC Conference of Parties in Egypt. Many said that they had low expectations and others expressed their hopes for raising ambition and real commitments, a focus on climate justice, getting major emitters on board and science remaining the guiding force.
The first session focused on the current hot topic of Energy Security. Alessia de Vita (E3 Modelling) presented results of modelling the RePowerEU strategy, comparing the results with a reference scenario (2019) and the Fit for 55 (2021) strategy. The participants then discussed the results that were presented, emphasizing topics such as the need to accelerate the supply of renewable energy and to reduce demand through efficiency measures in a circular economy, the different starting points in EU countries and the implications of demand for materials from outside the EU. A common topic across the groups was the risk that short-term strategies would not be aligned with long-term goals and the challenge to improve energy security while also decarbonizing. The importance of behavioural change and also of avoiding lock-in effects with a switch to liquid natural gas in the short-term were also common across discussion groups.
The second session focused on an ongoing stream of work in the ENGAGE project: to develop a website and data dashboard, the Climate Solutions Explorer (CSE). The website will enable visualization and comparison of spatial climate impacts data. The National Dashboard pages are designed to enable comparison of mitigation pathways and (avoided) climate impacts. The Net Zero Stories section of the website will include analysis of trade-offs, co-benefits and avoided impacts from the ENGAGE national modelling partners. These stories highlight national perspectives on the pathways to net-zero and discuss important co-benefits and trade-offs for key sectors such as air pollution & health, water, energy security, and land & biodiversity. Ed Byers (IIASA) presented the current status of the CSE to get feedback on the design and content. The participants showed strong interest in this tool for disseminating results from the ENGAGE project and provided a large number of ideas both for enhancing the functionality of the website and also the qualitative and quantitative content. The participants emphasized that the language used should be accessible to a broad range of potential users. They suggested that the use of narratives is attractive and that more stories could be added. It will be important, according to the stakeholders, to provide more examples of the benefits of climate change mitigation, while ensuring that the messages conveyed are consistent across the platform. This input from stakeholders comes just at the right time in the development of the CSE!
In the final session, the meeting turned to the topic of effort sharing. Zoi Vrontisi (E3 Modelling) presented results from the ENGAGE project based on including different effort-sharing mechanisms in integrated assessment models. The modelling results show that if the goal is to keep the global temperature increase below 2oC, there is little difference in terms of GDP impacts between a cost-optimal solution and other effort-sharing mechanisms. This was followed by a short presentation prepared by Silvia Pianta (CMCC) on the results of surveys on preferences for the different effort-sharing mechanisms carried out online and during several stakeholder workshops in the ENGAGE project. The group discussions after the presentations focused on issues and questions raised by the first presentation. One group discussed new ideas for effort sharing. These included: go beyond a monetary (GDP) and nation-based approach to look at social and environmental capital; effort sharing should focus on private corporations; and a per capita based approach in which the effort is made by the rich. Another group discussed the projected costs of effort sharing, noting that the cost calculations should also include the co-benefits, such as reduction of air pollution or increase of employment and that the choice of reference scenario matters when costs of effort sharing are calculated. A third group discussed the short-term feasibility of implementing effort sharing mechanisms, pointing out that it is important to consider “feasibility for whom?” In the short term, coalitions could be a feasible way forward and in the private sector there could be opportunities for effort sharing.
After an intensive day of presentations and discussions, Bas van Ruijven (IIASA) closed the meeting by thanking all participants for the very productive meeting that will without question inspire further work in the last year of the ENGAGE project.