BC3. Basque centre for climate change – Klima aldaketa ikergai

Objective 2: Support decision making in the transition to a low carbon society

Most countries have already submitted their climate action pledges (the so-called Nationally Determined Contributions) under the Paris Agreement, describing the actions they intend to take to achieve this common mitigation goal. Moreover, the global community faces the challenge of curbing emissions in an equitable and effective manner, and without compromising the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals and the efforts to eradicate poverty and inequality. Decision makers around the world will need to design and evaluate these policies on the basis of the best available scientific information and scientists will need to be prepared to effectively inform these solutions. It is therefore fundamental to better understand the challenges, opportunities, risks and uncertainties associated with low carbon transitions, and also the designing, communicating, implementing and evaluating of specific actions, in order to successfully achieve these transitions while supporting and engaging with stakeholders.

Activity 2.1. Strengthen the interdisciplinary character of policy assessments.

One of the strengths of BC3 is our multidisciplinary approach to assessing mitigation polices. Our diverse backgrounds and expertise with integrated assessment tools (ranging from Economy-Energy-Environment models, Real Option/Financial models, microeconomic models and Global Integrated Assessment models) allow us to analyze the implications of energy transitions, taking into account not only the technological, economic and financial dimensions, but also other relevant social and environmental aspects. Although the energy sector is the key domain of this research, it is in the interrelation with other disciplines where we contribute most. The goal of this activity is to address the following 6 hot-topics in the current scientific debate on the transition to a low carbon society: 1) understand the gap between consumers’ behavior and policy makers’ choices to achieve existing energy saving and efficiency potential; 2) explore the economic and environmental implications of the transition to renewables and of the electrification of the transport system; 3) incorporate land and carbon sinks (“negative emissions”) in an strategy of decarbonization that considers more realistic “bottom-up” information from land-use experts; 4) explore the co-benefits and trade-offs between climate policy and air pollution policies at different spatial scales; 5) gain better scientific understanding of the land-water-food nexus in the context of uncertainty; and 6) consider the equity dimension of different climate policies in order to improve their public and political acceptability. (Lead: Mikel González-Eguino).


Activity 2.2. Assessing energy transitions with the engagement of stakeholders. 

An innovative aspect of our approach is to engage multiple stakeholders in the research lifecycle so that multiple aspects of low carbon options are captured starting from the initial design, including co-benefits. In this activity, we will engage and collaborate with institutions in the EU (DG Joint Research Centre, DG Clima and DG Environment), Spain (Spanish Climate Change Office) and the Basque Country (Basque Environmental Agency (IHOBE), Basque Energy Agency (EVE) and Ararteko). We plan to develop new scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions up to 2030 and 2050 for Spain; a tool to evaluate the implications of industrial, energy and environmental policies in the Basque Country, by improving an existing in-house developed model (DERIO model) including, in consultation with stakeholders, features for the analysis of specific policies of interest. (Lead:  Iñaki Arto).


Activity 2.3. Explore the synergies between low carbon policies and Sustainable Development Goals.

The goal of this activity is to explore the existing interactions between the achievement of SDGs and the transition to a low carbon economy. First, we will analyze the links between poverty alleviation and low carbon transition; in particular, we will assess how different climate policies affect income distribution between and within countries. Second, we will explore how investment along different growth paths can be modified to include low carbon objectives, and whether growth and low carbon targets can indeed be made complementary.  Third, we will explore how off-grid renewables solutions can provide clean and affordable electricity access in the poorest countries (currently there are 1.25 billion people with no access to electricity and 2.5 billion who depended on biomass for cooking, and which according to the World Health Organization, creates an indoor air pollution problem that causes an estimated 1.3 million deaths per annum in low income countries). Lastly, this activity will synthesize the work that has been ongoing in recent years at BC3 on climate impacts in deltas and their implications for the SDGs.  Although not strictly a low carbon issue, it ties closely with climate change impacts and the SDGs. In terms of collaborations, we plan to build on our ongoing work within WISEUP on managing water-related natural infrastructure under climate change.  We have had a working relationship with the New Climate Economy consortium on achieving a low carbon transition in India through its Smart Cities program.  We plan to take this further in the coming years. (Lead: Anil Markandya)


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