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03:59 Institute of Physics (IOP) English 2017

Health benefits, ecological threats of low-carbon electricity

Stabilizing global temperature will require a shift to renewable or nuclear power from fossil power and the large-scale deployment of CO2 capture and storage (CCS) for remaining fossil fuel use. Non-climate co-benefits of low-carbon energy technologies, especially reduced mortalities from air pollution and decreased ecosystem damage, have been important arguments for policies to reduce CO2 emissions. Taking into account a wide range of environmental mechanisms and the complex interactions of the supply chains of different technologies, we conducted the first life cycle assessment of potential human health and ecological impacts of a global low-carbon electricity scenario. Our assessment indicates strong human health benefits of low-carbon electricity. For ecosystem quality, there is a significant trade-off between reduced pollution and climate impacts and potentially significant ecological impacts from land use associated with increased biopower utilization. Other renewables, nuclear power and CCS show clear ecological benefits, so that the climate mitigation scenario with a relatively low share of biopower has lower ecosystem impacts than the baseline scenario. Energy policy can maximize co-benefits by supporting other renewable and nuclear power and developing biomass supply from sources with low biodiversity impact.
  • Published: 2017
  • Publisher: Institute of Physics (IOP)
  • Language: English
02:35 Institute of Physics (IOP) English 2013

Global climate targets and future consumption level: an evaluation of the required GHG intensity

Discussion and analysis on international climate policy often focuses on the rather abstract level of total national and regional greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. At some point, however, emission reductions need to be translated to consumption level. In this article, we evaluate the implications of the strictest IPCC representative concentration pathway for key consumption categories (food, travel, shelter, goods, services). We use IPAT style identities to account for possible growth in global consumption levels and indicate the required change in GHG emission intensity for each category (i.e. GHG emission per calorie, person kilometer, square meter, kilogram, US dollar). The proposed concept provides guidance for product developers, consumers and policymakers. To reach the 2 °C climate target (2.1 tCO2-eq. per capita in 2050), the GHG emission intensity of consumption has to be reduced by a factor of 5 in 2050. The climate targets on consumption level allow discussion of the feasibility of this climate target at product and consumption level. In most consumption categories products in line with this climate target are available. For animal food and air travel, reaching the GHG intensity targets with product modifications alone will be challenging and therefore structural changes in consumption patterns might be needed. The concept opens up possibilities for further research on potential solutions on the consumption and product level to global climate mitigation.
  • Published: 2013
  • Publisher: Institute of Physics (IOP)
  • Language: English
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