(691b) Optimised Actions to Engage Cooperative Partnerships for an Effective Climate Change Mitigation

Authors: 
Galán Martín, Á., Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
Pozo Fernández, C., Imperial College London
Azapagic, A., The University of Manchester
Grossmann, I., Carnegie Mellon University
Mac Dowell, N., Imperial College London
Guillén-Gosálbez, G., Imperial College London
Climate change is one of the main challenges facing our generation which calls for urgent mitigation actions since otherwise global warning will continue to worsen. World leaders through international agendas have boosted the climate action since the earliest 80s and 90s, such as for example, with the establishment of United Nations Framework on Climate Change Conference and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol and more recently the ratification of the Paris Agreement. Unfortunately, despite the efforts made so far, carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise and perhaps more important, the overall pledged mitigation efforts presented by the countries fall short of meeting the long-term Paris goals.

Coordinating global efforts to fight against climate change remains a priority challenge, hindered by the need of satisfying so many conflicting interests and competing priorities in a fair manner. Traditional negotiations schemes have failed so far, leading to an impasse reflecting differences in the willingness to act with other parties. The backsliding of the United States Administration on climate change, with the rescission of the US Clean Power Plan and its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, might trigger a dangerous domino effect among other countries following its intention to inaction. This situation calls for new initiatives and mechanisms to engage countries in a collective action shaping the transition towards a more sustainable future.

In this contribution, we present an energy system model, referred to as ERCOM as acronym of Emission Reduction Cooperation Model, which allows quantifying the benefits of cooperation by automated screening millions of alternatives for differing levels of cooperation, ultimately identifying the most cost-effective solutions for meeting a given CO2 emission reduction target in the power sector. In essence, ERCOM is formulated as a mixed integer linear programming model which is capable of identifying the least cost pathway (i.e. optimal electricity mixes and electricity transmissions) so as to satisfy a given demand of electricity, where the binary variables are introduced to model whether a region cooperate or not. To demonstrate the capabilities of our tool, we employ the U.S. commitment to the Paris Agreement as a test bed, demonstrating that significant benefits can be attained with states collaborating to curb the CO2 emissions thereby exploiting cost effective and low carbon regional advantages. In particular, our results show that, with all states cooperating, the cost of the electricity generation in the US could be reduced by 16% (i.e. US$46 billion per year) while simultaneously cutting carbon emissions by 70% below 2012 levels (i.e. 66 Mt CO2 per year). It might be difficult to reach this full cooperative solution in practise, but our results show that, with only half of the states cooperating, these costs and emissions would be reduced by 10% and 68% respectively. Our findings show that pursuing climate change mitigation in cooperation can bring significant benefits not only for the climate but also for the U.S. economy. Unfortunately, the engagement of some regions might be compromised, since joint action entails an uneven distribution of efforts where states may be either benefited or penalised from cooperating. To circumvent this issue, we propose a compensation mechanism based on the fair allocation of collective gains following a equality principle which may be used as one option to spur cooperation since all states would emerge as benefited.

Overall, we argue that the approach we envisioned in this work may provide key ingredients for devising more effective schemes to overcome the current the impasse in climate change negotiations. Even if full cooperation remains elusive, our results demonstrate that the mere cooperation of a few parties may already lead to major environmental and economic benefits. The way forward to establish new partnerships for effective climate change mitigation will not be easy, but the mutual benefits attained will compensate any efforts made to foster deeper cooperation across regions.