Emissions pathways after COVID-19 will be shaped by how governments’ economic responses translate into infrastructure expansion, energy use, investment planning and societal changes. As a response to the COVID-19 crisis, most governments worldwide launched recovery packages aiming to boost their economies, support employment and enhance their competitiveness. Climate action is pledged to be embedded in most of these packages, but with sharp differences across countries. This paper provides novel evidence on the energy system and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions implications of post-COVID-19 recovery packages by assessing the gap between pledged recovery packages and the actual investment needs of the energy transition to reach the Paris Agreement goals. Using two well-established Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) and analysing various scenarios combining recovery packages and climate policies, we conclude that currently planned recovery from COVID-19 is not enough to enhance societal responses to climate urgency and that it should be significantly upscaled and prolonged to ensure compatibility with the Paris Agreement goals.
The Paris Agreement seeks to combine international efforts to keep global temperature increase to well-below 2°C. Whilst current ambitions in many signatories are insufficient to achieve this goal, optimism prevailed in the second half of 2020. Not only did several major emitters announce net-zero mitigation targets around mid-century, but the new Biden Administration immediately announced the U.S.’s re-entry into Paris and a net-zero goal for 2050. U.S. federal re-engagement in climate action could have a considerable impact on its national greenhouse gas emissions pathway, by significantly augmenting existing state-level actions. Combined with U.S. re-entry in the Paris Agreement, this could also serve as a stimulus to enhance ambitions in other countries. A critical question then becomes what such U.S. re-engagement, through both national and international channels, would have on the global picture. This commentary explores precisely this question, by using an integrated assessment model to assess U.S. national emissions, global emissions, and end-of-century temperatures in five scenarios combining different climate ambition levels in both the U.S. and the rest of the world. Our analyses find that ambitious climate leadership by the Biden Administration on top of enhanced climate commitments by other major economies could potentially be the trigger for the world to fulfill the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement has set out ambitious climate goals aiming to keep global warming well below 2 °C by 2100. This requires a large-scale transformation of the global energy system based on the uptake of several technological options to reduce drastically emissions, including expansion of renewable energy, energy efficiency improvements, and fuel switch towards low-carbon energy carriers. The current study explores the role of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) as a mitigation option, which provides a dispatchable source for carbon-free production of electricity and can also be used to decarbonise industrial processes. In the last decade, limited technology progress and slow deployment of CCS technologies worldwide have increased the concerns about the feasibility and potential for massive scale-up of CCS required for deep decarbonisation. The current study uses the state-of-the-art PROMETHEUS global energy demand and supply system model to examine the role and impacts of CCS deployment in a global decarbonisation context. By developing contrasted decarbonisation scenarios, the analysis illustrates that CCS deployment might bring about various economic and climate benefits for developing economies, in the form of reduced emissions, lower mitigation costs, ensuring the cost-efficient integration of renewables, limiting stranded fossil fuel assets, and alleviating the negative distributional impacts of cost-optimal policies for developing economies.