AGW Observer

Observations of anthropogenic global warming

New research – climate change mitigation (October 3, 2016)

Posted by Ari Jokimäki on October 3, 2016

Some of the latest papers on climate change mitigation are shown below. First a few highlighted papers with abstracts and then a list of some other papers. If this subject interests you, be sure to check also the other papers – they are by no means less interesting than the highlighted ones.


Carbon balance effects of U.S. biofuel production and use (DeCicco et al. 2016)

Abstract: The use of liquid biofuels has expanded over the past decade in response to policies such as the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that promote their use for transportation. One rationale is the belief that biofuels are inherently carbon neutral, meaning that only production-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions need to be tallied when comparing them to fossil fuels. This assumption is embedded in the lifecycle analysis (LCA) modeling used to justify and administer such policies. LCA studies have often found that crop-based biofuels such as corn ethanol and biodiesel offer at least modest net GHG reductions relative to petroleum fuels. Data over the period of RFS expansion enable empirical assessment of net CO2 emission effects. This analysis evaluates the direct carbon exchanges (both emissions and uptake) between the atmosphere and the U.S. vehicle-fuel system (motor vehicles and the physical supply chain for motor fuels) over 2005–2013. While U.S. biofuel use rose from 0.37 to 1.34 EJ/yr over this period, additional carbon uptake on cropland was enough to offset only 37 % of the biofuel-related biogenic CO2 emissions. This result falsifies the assumption of a full offset made by LCA and other GHG accounting methods that assume biofuel carbon neutrality. Once estimates from the literature for process emissions and displacement effects including land-use change are considered, the conclusion is that U.S. biofuel use to date is associated with a net increase rather than a net decrease in CO2 emissions.

Will international emissions trading help achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement? (Fujimori et al. 2016)

Abstract: Under the Paris Agreement, parties set and implement their own emissions targets as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to tackle climate change. International carbon emissions trading is expected to reduce global mitigation costs. Here, we show the benefit of emissions trading under both NDCs and a more ambitious reduction scenario consistent with the 2 °C goal. The results show that the global welfare loss, which was measured based on estimated household consumption change in 2030, decreased by 75% (from 0.47% to 0.16%), as a consequence of achieving NDCs through emissions trading. Furthermore, achieving the 2 °C targets without emissions trading led to a global welfare loss of 1.4%–3.4%, depending on the burden-sharing scheme used, whereas emissions trading reduced the loss to around 1.5% (from 1.4% to 1.7%). These results indicate that emissions trading is a valuable option for the international system, enabling NDCs and more ambitious targets to be achieved in a cost-effective manner.

The prospective of coal power in China: Will it reach a plateau in the coming decade? (Yuan et al. 2016)

Abstract: Coal power holds the king position in China’s generation mix and has resulted in ever-increasing ecological and environmental issues; hence, the development of the electric power sector is confronted with a series of new challenges. China has recently adopted a new economic principle of the “new economic normal,” which has a large effect on the projection electricity demand and power generation planning through 2020. This paper measures electricity demand based upon China’s social and economic structure. The 2020 roadmap presents China’s developing targets for allocating energy resources to meet new demands, and the 2030 roadmap is compiled based upon an ambitious expansion of clean energy sources. Results show that electricity demand is expected to reach 7500 TWh in 2020 and 9730 TWh in 2030. Coal power is expected to reach its peak in 2020 at around 970 GW, and will then enter a plateau, even with a pathway of active electricity substitution in place.

Independent evaluation of point source fossil fuel CO2 emissions to better than 10% (Turnbull et al. 2016)

Abstract: Independent estimates of fossil fuel CO2 (CO2ff) emissions are key to ensuring that emission reductions and regulations are effective and provide needed transparency and trust. Point source emissions are a key target because a small number of power plants represent a large portion of total global emissions. Currently, emission rates are known only from self-reported data. Atmospheric observations have the potential to meet the need for independent evaluation, but useful results from this method have been elusive, due to challenges in distinguishing CO2ff emissions from the large and varying CO2 background and in relating atmospheric observations to emission flux rates with high accuracy. Here we use time-integrated observations of the radiocarbon content of CO2 (14CO2) to quantify the recently added CO2ff mole fraction at surface sites surrounding a point source. We demonstrate that both fast-growing plant material (grass) and CO2 collected by absorption into sodium hydroxide solution provide excellent time-integrated records of atmospheric 14CO2. These time-integrated samples allow us to evaluate emissions over a period of days to weeks with only a modest number of measurements. Applying the same time integration in an atmospheric transport model eliminates the need to resolve highly variable short-term turbulence. Together these techniques allow us to independently evaluate point source CO2ff emission rates from atmospheric observations with uncertainties of better than 10%. This uncertainty represents an improvement by a factor of 2 over current bottom-up inventory estimates and previous atmospheric observation estimates and allows reliable independent evaluation of emissions.

Expert assessment concludes negative emissions scenarios may not deliver (Vaughan & Cough, 2016)

Abstract: Many integrated assessment models (IAMs) rely on the availability and extensive use of biomass energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) to deliver emissions scenarios consistent with limiting climate change to below 2 °C average temperature rise. BECCS has the potential to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, delivering ‘negative emissions’. The deployment of BECCS at the scale assumed in IAM scenarios is highly uncertain: biomass energy is commonly used but not at such a scale, and CCS technologies have been demonstrated but not commercially established. Here we present the results of an expert elicitation process that explores the explicit and implicit assumptions underpinning the feasibility of BECCS in IAM scenarios. Our results show that the assumptions are considered realistic regarding technical aspects of CCS but unrealistic regarding the extent of bioenergy deployment, and development of adequate societal support and governance structures for BECCS. The results highlight concerns about the assumed magnitude of carbon dioxide removal achieved across a full BECCS supply chain, with the greatest uncertainty in bioenergy production. Unrealistically optimistic assumptions regarding the future availability of BECCS in IAM scenarios could lead to the overshoot of critical warming limits and have significant impacts on near-term mitigation options.

Other papers

Golden Eagle fatalities and the continental-scale consequences of local wind-energy generation (Katzner et al. 2016)

Decoupling economic growth from CO2 emissions: A decomposition analysis of China’s household energy consumption (Ma et al. 2016)

Public perceptions and acceptance of induced earthquakes related to energy development (McComas et al. 2016)

The design of renewable support schemes and CO2 emissions in China (Wu et al. 2016)

Public conceptions of justice in climate engineering: Evidence from secondary analysis of public deliberation (McLaren et al. 2016)

Multi-year energy balance and carbon dioxide fluxes over a residential neighbourhood in a tropical city (Roth et al. 2016)

Solar energy storage in German households: profitability, load changes and flexibility (Kaschub et al. 2016)

How wind became a four-letter word: Lessons for community engagement from a wind energy conflict in King Island, Australia (Colvin et al. 2016)

Paying the full price of steel – Perspectives on the cost of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the steel industry (Rootzén & Johnsson, 2016)

The environmental impact of activities after life: life cycle assessment of funerals (Keijzer, 2016)

Impacts devalue the potential of large-scale terrestrial CO2 removal through biomass plantations (Boysen et al. 2016)

Measurements of methane emissions from a beef cattle feedlot using the eddy covariance technique (Prajapati & Santos, 2016)

Do national-level policies to promote low-carbon technology deployment pay off for the investor countries? (Iyer et al. 2016)

Russia’s black carbon emissions: focus on diesel sources (Kholod et al. 2016)

Place-based inter-generational communication on local climate improves adolescents’ perceptions and willingness to mitigate climate change (Hu & Chen, 2016)

A quantile regression analysis of China’s provincial CO2 emissions: Where does the difference lie? (Xu & Lin, 2016)

Concerned consumption. Global warming changing household domestication of energy (Aune et al. 2016)

Is ecological personality always consistent with low-carbon behavioral intention of urban residents? (Wei et al. 2016)

Assessing the merits of bioenergy by estimating marginal climate-change impacts (Kirschbaum, 2016)

Nuclear accident reminders and support for nuclear energy: Paradoxical effect (Selimbegović et al. 2016)

Progress, challenges and perspectives in flexible perovskite solar cells (Di Giacomo et al. 2016)

Mitigation of methane emissions in cities: how new measurements and partnerships can contribute to emissions reduction strategies (Hopkins et al. 2016)

Narratives in climate change discourse (Fløttum & Gjerstad, 2016)

Has energy conservation been an effective policy for Thailand? An input–output structural decomposition analysis from 1995 to 2010 (Supasa et al. 2016)

Is nuclear economical in comparison to renewables? (Suna & Resch, 2016)

The sower’s way: quantifying the narrowing net-energy pathways to a global energy transition (Sgouridis et al. 2016)

Testing the efficacy of voluntary urban greenhouse gas emissions inventories (Khan & Sovacool, 2016)

Nitrogen footprints: Regional realities and options to reduce nitrogen loss to the environment (Shibata et al. 2016)

Estimating fugitive methane emissions from oil sands mining using extractive core samples (Johnson et al. 2016)

Carbon intensity of electricity in ASEAN: Drivers, performance and outlook (Ang & Goh, 2016)

Global economic consequences of deploying bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) (Muratori et al. 2016)

Cost Implications of Uncertainty in CO2 Storage Resource Estimates: A Review (Anderson, 2016)

Technological growth of fuel efficiency in european automobile market 1975–2015 (Hu & Chen, 2016)

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