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The impact of technology availability on the timing and costs of emission reductions for achieving long-term climate targets


While most long-term mitigation scenario studies build on a broad portfolio of mitigation technologies, there is quite some uncertainty about the availability and reduction potential of these technologies. This study explores the impacts of technology limitations on greenhouse gas emission reductions using the integrated model IMAGE. It shows that the required short-term emission reductions to achieve long-term radiative forcing targets strongly depend on assumptions on the availability and potential of mitigation technologies. Limited availability of mitigation technologies which are relatively important in the long run implies that lower short-term emission levels are required. For instance, limited bio-energy availability reduces the optimal 2020 emission level by more than 4 GtCO2eq in order to compensate the reduced availability of negative emissions from bioenergy and carbon capture and storage (BECCS) in the long run. On the other hand, reduced mitigation potential of options that are used in 2020 can also lead to a higher optimal level for 2020 emissions. The results also show the critical role of BECCS for achieving low radiative forcing targets in IMAGE. Without these technologies achieving these targets become much more expensive or even infeasible.

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  1. The model names are acronyms. IMAGE = Integrated Model to Assess the Global Environment; TIMER = The IMage Energy Regional model; FAIR-SiMCaP = Framework to Assess International Regimes for the differentiation of commitments - Simple Model for Climate Policy Assessment.

  2. All prices and costs are expressed in 2005 US Dollars.


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Correspondence to Andries F. Hof.

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This article is part of the Special Issue on “The EMF27 Study on Global Technology and Climate Policy Strategies” edited by John Weyant, Elmar Kriegler, Geoffrey Blanford, Volker Krey, Jae Edmonds, Keywan Riahi, Richard Richels, and Massimo Tavoni.

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van Vliet, J., Hof, A.F., Mendoza Beltran, A. et al. The impact of technology availability on the timing and costs of emission reductions for achieving long-term climate targets. Climatic Change 123, 559–569 (2014).

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  • Emission Reduction
  • Climate Policy
  • Abatement Cost
  • Emission Level
  • Mitigation Cost