Realizing ambitions: A framework for iteratively assessing and communicating national decarbonization progress

Chuan Zhang, Honghua Yang, Yunlong Zhao, Linwei Ma, Eric D. Larson, Chris Greig

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

A growing number of governments are pledging to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century. Despite such ambitions, realized emissions reductions continue to fall alarmingly short of modeled energy transition pathways for achieving net-zero. This gap is largely a result of the difficulty of realistically modeling all the techno-economic and sociopolitical capabilities that are required to deliver actual emissions reductions. This limitation of models suggests the need for an energy-systems analytical framework that goes well beyond energy-system modeling in order to close the gap between ambition and reality. Toward that end, we propose the Emissions-Sustainability-Governance-Operation (ESGO) framework for structured assessment and transparent communication of national capabilities and realization. We illustrate the critical role of energy modeling in ESGO using recent net-zero modeling studies for the world's two largest emitters, China and the United States. This illustration leads to recommendations for improvements to energy-system modeling to enable more productive ESGO implementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103695
JournaliScience
Volume25
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 21 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

Keywords

  • Energy policy
  • Energy resources
  • Energy systems

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