UCL Energy Institute


UCL-Energy researchers contribute to Nature Climate Change study on CO2 emissions sensitivity

18 January 2017

UCL–Energy Senior Lecturer Ilkka Keppo and Research Associate James Price have contributed to a new study on the sensitivity of CO2 emissions, published this week in Nature Climate Change.

energy abstract jpg

The study brings together six different energy–economy–climate models from six different European research institutes.

The study analyses the sensitivity of future long term CO2 emissions to their major drivers, which include population, income, energy intensity, fossil resources availability and low carbon technologies development. The study addresses three possible future worlds, as delineated by Shared Socio-Economic Pathways: a sustainable world, a middle of the road world and a challenging world. Using advanced statistical approaches, the study has disentangled the impacts of each of the above–mentioned drivers in isolation, as well as in interaction with the others.

Giacomo Marangoni, researcher at FEEM and Politecnico di Milano and leader of the study, said:

"The results clearly point to income and energy efficiency as key determinants of future emissions. Projected population seems to matter less in determining future emissions. Fossil fuel and low carbon resources rank in between. These results tend to hold across models, over different time horizons, and also in the presence of a climate policy."

UCL-Energy Senior Lecturer Ilkka Keppo said:

“Research like this can be important not only for the policy implications it brings with it, but also for providing information about the models themselves, about how sensitive they are to the uncertain key assumptions that drive them."

The study’s scale has the potential to influence climate policy research over the coming years. It suggests that modelling and policy communities could benefit from shifting part of their attention from the traditional energy–supply domain to elements such as energy efficiency and economic wellbeing.

Adapted from text provided by the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM)

Notes to editors:

  1. View the paper.
  2. Full reference: G. Marangoni, M. Tavoni, V. Bosetti, E. Borgonovo, P. Capros, O. Fricko, D. E. H. J. Gernaat, C. Guivarch, P. Havlik, D. Huppmann, N. Johnson, P. Karkatsoulis, I. Keppo, V. Krey, E. Ó Broin, J. Price, D. P. van Vuuren, ‘Sensitivity of projected long term CO2 emissions across the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways’, Nature Climate Change, DOI: 10.1038/nclimate3199