Negative Emissions and Technology Policies
Their Influence on the Optimal Climate Mitigation Portfolio
The authors consider how to combine policies to meet various climate targets. For instance, should policymakers begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions quickly, or should begin funding R&D and then reduce emissions after new technologies are developed?
If we believe that we will eventually be able to use new technologies to suck old CO2 out of the atmosphere, does that mean that we should undertake fewer emission reductions now?
The main finding is that while it is important to fund R&D in order to lower the cost of climate policy, near-term R&D funding does not substitute for near-term emission reductions. In contrast, if we believe that we will eventually be able to directly remove significant quantities of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, then we might emit more in the near-term and make up for it later in the century using these technologies.
This type of strategy implies that we will temporarily overshoot a climate target before using the “negative emission” technologies to come back into compliance. However, if we are worried about thresholds in the climate system, then we might not want to temporarily overshoot our target.
In this case, negative emission technologies have less value and do not strongly affect optimal near-term emissions.
Derek M. Lemoine is an assistant professor of economics at the Eller College of Management, University of Arizona. Sabine Fuss, Jana Szolgayova, and Michael Obersteiner are with the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria. Daniel M. Kammen is with the Energy and Resources Group, University of California, Berkeley.
Published in Climatic Change.