Energy & Emissions Modeling

The Columbia Climate Center Energy and Emissions Model, a collaboration with Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors (DBCCA)

The CCC has developed an Energy and Emissions Model (EEM) to estimate the effect of climate, energy, and land-use policies on greenhouse gas emissions in countries around the world. If no action is taken, also known as business-as-usual, we are currently on a path that will lead to around 60 GtCO2e in 2020.
The CCC uses EEM to quantify whether the existing suite of policies can achieve the emissions reductions necessary to reach the stabilization target of 44 GtCO2e by 2020 recommended by the UNEP.

We quantify the potential impact of over 500 policies as of February 2012, assuming that they are fully enacted. Policies include economy-wide emission reduction targets, renewable energy mandates, efficiency improvements reductions in deforestation, policies that promote electric vehicles, and switches to low- and zero-carbon fuels. With our collaborators Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors (DBCCA) of Deutsche Assets Management, we identify and regularly update policy targets from over 190 countries. We work with DBCCA to produce reports that assess the evolving political landscape of climate change and energy policy on a roughly annual basis. Below are the primary results of the reports produced from this project over the last three years as well as links to the full reports.

April 2012 and May 2012

In April 2012, we reported that a combination of the most aggressive policies would lead to a reduction of 11.1 GtCO2e by 2020, leaving a gap of 5.8 GtCO2e between the business-as-usual projection of 60.8 GtCO2e and the stabilization target proposed by the UNEP of 44 GtCO2e by 2020.

Globally, we find that economy-wide emissions targets, such as those agreed upon in the Copenhagen Accord, are less effective at reducing emissions than specific policies that give a clear roadmap for achieving reductions, such as renewable energy mandates and targets for efficiency improvements. This, however, can vary by country, since some countries have ambitious economy-wide emission targets without outlining the bottom-up policies necessary to achieve the reductions. The single highest impact policy is an energy intensity reduction target in China, which aims to reduce energy intensity 18% from 2010 levels by 2015.

Since we started our modeling project, both the database of applicable policies and the underlying energy data have evolved, as new policies come into play and the energy data are updated. Thus our business-as-usual projections and the estimated impact of the policy suite have changed with each report. In the April 2012 study, we used the same underlying business-as-usual data to quantify the shifts in the policy database over time. We found that emissions reductions increased between October 2009 and February 2012 due to an increase in both number of policies and in ambition. The biggest shift was seen between October 2009 and March 2010 in response to the 15th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

In May 2012, we completed a study that quantified the relative impact of policies that mandate improvements in efficiency versus those that increased the share of renewable energy sources. We found that globally, efficiency-related policies had the largest potential impact on emissions because of China’s ambitious energy intensity target. Without that target efficiency and renewable policies had comparable abatements.

The April 2012 report can be found here.

The May 2012 report can be downloaded here.

July 2011

The report released in July 2011 finds that a combination of the most aggressive policies will reduce global emissions by 10.7 GtCO2e in 2020, leaving a gap of 5 GtCO2e between the business-as-usual projection of 59.7 GtCO2e and the stabilization target proposed by the UNEP of 44 GtCO2e in 2020. The highest impact target remains the Chinese energy intensity target, followed by Brazil’s policy to reduce deforestation 80% from 2006 levels by 2020 and the U.S. Copenhagen Accord emission target to reduce emissions 17% from 2005 levels by 2020.

The July 2011 report can be found here.

March 2010

The report released in March 2010 finds that a combination of the most aggressive policies will lead to a reduction of 10 GtCO2e in 2020, leaving a gap of 5 GtCO2e between the business-as-usual projection of 59 GtCO2e and the stabilization target proposed by the UNEP of 44 GtCO2e in 2020.

The March 2010 report can be found here.

October 2009

The first report of the EEM project, released in October 2009, estimates that the most aggressive policies will reduce global emissions by 8 GtCO2e in 2020, leaving a gap of 7 GtCO2e between the business-as-usual projection of 59 GtCO2e and the stabilization target proposed by the UNEP of 44 GtCO2e in 2020.

These estimates include policies announced in anticipation of the Copenhagen Accord, a result of the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2009. This brought important additions to the global climate policy landscape.

The October 2009 report can be found here.