US energy system transitions under cumulative emissions budgets

Abstract

Cumulative emissions budgets are increasingly being used by decision-makers and analysts to understand emissions reductions and associated transitions in the context of long-term goals such as limiting global mean temperature increase over the century to 1.5 or 2 °C. While previous studies have explored the implications of such budgets for the global economy, few studies have conducted regional- and national-level analyses. This paper explores budgets through 2050 consistent with the 1.5 and 2 °C long-term temperature goals in the context of the USA. We employ a state-level model of the USA embedded within a global human-Earth system model (GCAM-USA) to study the implications of such budgets for the US energy system. Our results show that achieving the stringent budgets entails accelerated deployment of energy conserving technology, almost complete decarbonization of the power sector, increased electrification of buildings and industrial end-use sectors, and decarbonization of transport employing a combination of electrification and the substitution of fossil fuels for bioenergy. We also find substantial state-level differences in the relative roles of these decarbonization strategies. Furthermore, our results highlight that increased ambition in the near term will be valuable in setting the stage for smoother transformations in the future to achieve stringent budgets.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Notes

  1. 1.

    For instance, a recent study shows that considering the role of non-CO2 emissions (and hence resulting radiative forcing) is important to improve the approximations of global temperature change based on cumulative emissions or emissions budget (Feijoo et al. 2019).

  2. 2.

    At the time of this analysis, the Clean Power Plan was a final regulation undergoing court review. At the time of submission, the US Environmental Protection Agency had filed Proposal to Repeal the Clean Power Plan (16 Oct. 2017; see https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-10-16/pdf/2017-22349.pdf).

  3. 3.

    For comparison, electricity’s share of building final energy in the NoPolicy scenario is 58%.

  4. 4.

    Electrification rate is defined as final energy consumption from electricity divided by total final energy consumption for a given sector.

  5. 5.

    Transportation sector electrification ranges from 4.0 to 7.3% among the 48 contiguous states in 2050.

  6. 6.

    Note that GCAM-USA considers a unique carbon price in the USA, which is imposed to all states. Electrification rates are driven by cost, and no bounds on the levels or rates of electrification have been considered in this research.

  7. 7.

    This excludes Hawaii and DC, which are significant outliers.

References

  1. Calvin K et al (2019) GCAM v5.1: representing the linkages between energy, water, land, climate, and economic systems. Geosci Model Dev 12:677–698. https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-12-677-2019

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Capros P et al (2014) European decarbonisation pathways under alternative technological and policy choices: a multi-model analysis. Energy Strat Rev 2:231–245. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esr.2013.12.007

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Capros P, Tasios N, De Vita A, Mantzos L, Paroussos L (2012) Model-based analysis of decarbonising the EU economy in the time horizon to 2050. Energy Strat Rev 1:76–84. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esr.2012.06.003

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. CD-LINKS (2018) Linking Climate and Development Policies – Leveraging International Networks and Knowledge Sharing (CD-LINKS). http://www.cd-links.org/.

  5. Chen W, Yin X, Zhang H (2016) Towards low carbon development in China: a comparison of national and global models. Clim Chang 136:95–108. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-013-0937-7

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Clarke JF, Edmonds J (1993) Modelling energy technologies in a competitive market. Energy Econ 15:123–129

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Clarke L et al (2014) Assessing transformation pathways. In: Edenhofer O et al (eds) Climate change 2014: mitigation of climate change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  8. Creutzig F, Jochem P, Edelenbosch OY, Mattauch L, van Vuuren DP, McCollum D, Minx J (2015) Transport: a roadblock to climate change mitigation? Science 350:911–912. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aac8033

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. DDPP (2015) Deep Decarbonization pathways project (2015). Pathways to deep decarbonization 2015 REPORT, SDSN - IDDRI, http://deepdecarbonization.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/DDPP_2015_REPORT.pdf (accessed online on march 08 2017)

  10. Duscha V, Denishchenkova A, Wachsmuth J (2019) Achievability of the Paris Agreement targets in the EU: demand-side reduction potentials in a carbon budget perspective. Clim Pol 19:161–174. https://doi.org/10.1080/14693062.2018.1471385

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Environmental Protection Agency (2015a) Carbon pollution emission guidelines for existing stationary sources: electric utility generating units. Office of the Federal Register, Washington, DC

  12. Environmental Protection Agency (2015b) Standards of performance for greenhouse gas emissions from new, modified, and reconstructed stationary sources: electric utility generating units, 80 Federal Register 205 (23 October 2015) (40 CFR parts 60, 70, 71, and 98): 64513, 64546–64547, https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-10-23/pdf/2015-22837.pdf ()

  13. Fawcett AA, Calvin KV, de la Chesnaye FC, Reilly JM, Weyant JP (2009) Overview of EMF 22 U.S. transition scenarios. Energy Econ 31:S198–S211. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eneco.2009.10.015

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Fawcett AA, Clarke LE, Weyant J (2014) The EMF24 study on U.S.Technology and climate policy strategies the energy journal 35:1-7

  15. Fawcett AA et al (2015) Can Paris pledges avert severe climate change? Science 350:1168–1169. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aad5761

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Feijoo F et al (2018) The future of natural gas infrastructure development in the United States. Applied Energy, 228:149–166. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2018.06.037

  17. Feijoo F, Mignone BK, Kheshgi HS, Hartin C, McJeon H, Edmonds J (2019) Climate and carbon budget implications of linked future changes in CO2 and non-CO2 forcing. Environ Res Lett 14:044007. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab08a9

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. GCAM v4.2 Documentation. (2017) Joint Global Change Research Institute. http://jgcri.github.io/gcam-doc/v4.2/toc.html.

  19. Hultman N, Calhoun K (2018) Fulfilling America’s pledge: how states, cities and businesses are leading the United States to a low-carbon Future. Bloomberg Philanthropies,

  20. IPCC (2014) Climate change 2014: synthesis report. Contribution of working groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Geneva

    Google Scholar 

  21. Iyer G, Ledna C, Clarke L, McJeon H, Edmonds J, Wise M (2017a) GCAM-USA analysis of US electric power sector transitions. http://www.pnnl.gov/main/publications/external/technical_reports/PNNL-26174.pdf. Pacific northwest National Laboratory,

  22. Iyer G, Ledna C, Clarke LE, Edmonds J, McJeon H, Kyle GP, Williams JA (2017b) Measuring progress from nationally determined contributions to mid-century strategies. Nat Clim Chang 7:871–874. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-017-0005-9

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Iyer GC et al (2015) The contribution of Paris to limit global warming to 2°C. Environ Res Lett 10:125002

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Kim S, Edmonds J, Lurz J, Smith S, Wise M (2006) The objects framework for integrated assessment: hybrid modeling of transportation. Energy J 27:63–91

    Google Scholar 

  25. Kraucunas I et al (2014) Investigating the nexus of climate, energy, water, and land at decision-relevant scales: the platform for regional integrated modeling and analysis (PRIMA). Clim Chang 129:573–588. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-014-1064-9

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Matthews HD, Zickfeld K, Knutti R, Allen MR (2018) Focus on cumulative emissions, global carbon budgets and the implications for climate mitigation targets. Environ Res Lett:13, 010201. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aa98c9

  27. McFadden D (1980) Econometric models for probabilistic choice among products the. J Bus 53:S13–S29

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Muratori M et al (2017a) Cost of power or power of cost: a U.S. modeling perspective. Renew Sust Energ Rev 77:861–874. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2017.04.055

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Muratori M, Smith SJ, Kyle P, Link R, Mignone BK, Kheshgi HS (2017b) Role of the freight sector in future climate change mitigation scenarios. Environ Sci Technol 51:3526–3533. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.6b04515

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Pan X, Wang H, Wang L, Chen W (2018) Decarbonization of China’s transportation sector. In: Light of national mitigation toward the Paris Agreement goals, vol 155. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.energy.2018.04.144

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  31. Peters GP (2018) Beyond carbon budgets. Nat Geosci 11:378–380. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-018-0142-4

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Riahi K et al (2015) Locked into Copenhagen pledges — implications of short-term emission targets for the cost and feasibility of long-term climate goals. Technol Forecast Soc Chang 90(part a):8–23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2013.09.016

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Riahi K et al. (2016) The shared socioeconomic pathways and their energy, land use, and greenhouse gas emissions implications: an overview global environmental change doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2016.05.009

  34. Rochedo PRR et al (2018) The threat of political bargaining to climate mitigation in Brazil. Nat Clim Chang 8:695–698. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-018-0213-y

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Rogelj J et al (2016) Differences between carbon budget estimates unravelled. Nat Clim Chang 6:245. https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2868

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. The White House (2016) United States Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization (Washington, D.C., November 2016): 22, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/docs/mid_century_strategy_report-final.pdf (Accessed 1 February 2017)

  37. Train K (1993) Qualitative choice analysis: theory, econometrics, and an application to automobile demand MIT press,

  38. US Congress (2016) Consolidated appropriations act, 2016. Government Publishing Office, Washington, DC

    Google Scholar 

  39. U.S. Department of Energy (2011) U.S. billion-ton update: biomass supply for a bioenergy and bioproducts industry. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge

    Google Scholar 

  40. U.S. Energy Information Administration (2017) Annual energy outlook 2017, January 2017, http://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/ ()

  41. UNFCCC (2015a) INDCs as communicated by Parties: http://www4.unfccc.int/submissions/indc/Submission%20Pages/submissions.aspx

  42. UNFCCC (2015b) The Paris Agreement, http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9485.php

  43. UNFCCC (2015c) U.S.A. First NDC submission

  44. Vrontisi Z, Fragkiadakis K, Kannavou M, Capros P (2019) Energy system transition and macroeconomic impacts of a European decarbonization action towards a below 2 °C climate stabilization. Clim Chang 13:1–19. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-019-02440-7

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Wang C, Yang Y, Zhang J (2015) China’s sectoral strategies in energy conservation and carbon mitigation. Clim Pol 15:S60–S80. https://doi.org/10.1080/14693062.2015.1050346

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Williams JH, Haley B, Kahrl F, Moore J, Jones AD, Torn MS, McJeon H (2014) Pathways to deep decarbonization in the United States. The U.S. report of the deep decarbonization pathways project of the sustainable development solutions network and the institute for sustainable development and international relations

Download references

Funding

This work is part of a project that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 642147 (CD-LINKS).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gokul Iyer.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

This article is part of a Special Issue on 'National Low-Carbon Development Pathways' edited by Roberto Schaeffer, Valentina Bosetti, Elmar Kriegler, Keywan Riahi, Detlef van Vuuren, and John Weyant.

Electronic supplementary material

ESM 1

(DOCX 1342 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Feijoo, F., Iyer, G., Binsted, M. et al. US energy system transitions under cumulative emissions budgets. Climatic Change 162, 1947–1963 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-020-02670-0

Download citation

Keywords

  • Cumulative emissions budget
  • Deep decarbonization
  • Nationally determined contribution
  • Global Change Assessment Model
  • CD-LINKS