Environmental Modeling & Assessment

, Volume 17, Issue 1–2, pp 177–191 | Cite as

The Impact of Uncertainty in Climate Targets and CO2 Storage Availability on Long-Term Emissions Abatement

  • Ilkka KeppoEmail author
  • Bob van der Zwaan


A major characteristic of our global interactive climate-energy system is the large uncertainty that exists with respect to both future environmental requirements and the means available for fulfilling these. Potentially, a key technology for leading the transition from the current fossil fuel-dominated energy system to a more sustainable one is carbon dioxide capture and storage. Uncertainties exist, however, concerning the large-scale implementability of this technology, such as related to the regional availability of storage sites for the captured CO2. We analyze these uncertainties from an integrated assessment perspective by using the bottom-up model TIAM-ECN and by studying a set of scenarios that cover a range of different climate targets and technology futures. Our study consists of two main approaches: (1) a sensitivity analysis through the investigation of a number of scenarios under perfect foresight decision making and (2) a stochastic programming exercise that allows for simultaneously considering a set of potential future states-of-the-world. We find that, if a stringent climate (forcing) target is a possibility, it dominates the solution: if deep CO2 emission reductions are not started as soon as possible, the target may become unreachable. Attaining a stringent climate target comes in any case at a disproportionally high price, which indicates that adaptation measures or climate damages might be preferable to the high mitigation costs such a target implies.


Climate change Energy system modeling Carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) Mitigation target Storage potential Uncertainty 



The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme through the PLANETS project (FP7/2007-2011, grant agreement no. 211859). Feedback and comments to this article are acknowledged from several colleagues, as well as two anonymous referees.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Policy Studies, Energy research Center of the Netherlands (ECN)AmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy, The Earth InstituteColumbia UniversityColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.School of Advanced International StudiesJohns Hopkins UniversityBolognaItaly

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