From Zero to Hero?: Why Integrated Assessment Modeling of Negative Emissions Technologies Is Hard and How We Can Do Better Dec 04, 2019 By Jay FuhrmanHaewon McJeonScott C. DoneyWilliam ShobeAndres F. Clarens From Zero to Hero?: Why Integrated Assessment Modeling of Negative Emissions Technologies Is Hard and How We Can Do Better Climate change mitigation strategies informed by Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) increasingly rely on major deployments of negative emissions technologies (NETs) to achieve global climate targets. Although NETs can strongly complement emissions mitigation efforts, this dependence on the presumed future ability to deploy NETs at scale raises questions about the structural elements of IAMs that are influencing our understanding of mitigation efforts. Model inter-comparison results underpinning the IPCC's special report on Global Warming of 1.5°C were used to explore the role that current assumptions are having on projections and the way in which emerging technologies, economic factors, innovation, and tradeoffs between negative emissions objectives and UN Sustainable Development Goals might have on future deployment of NETs. Current generation IAM scenarios widely assume we are capable of scaling up NETs over the coming 30 years to achieve negative emissions of the same order of magnitude as current global emissions (tens of gigatons of CO2/year) predominantly relying on highly land intensive NETs. While the technological potential of some of these approaches (e.g., direct air capture) is much greater than for the land-based technologies, these are seldom included in the scenarios. Alternative NETs (e.g., accelerated weathering) are generally excluded because of connections with industrial sectors or earth system processes that are not yet included in many models. In all cases, modeling results suggest that significant NET activity will be conducted in developing regions, raising concerns about tradeoffs with UN Sustainable Development Goals. These findings provide insight into how to improve treatment of NETs in IAMs to better inform international climate policy discussions. We emphasize the need to better understand relative strength and weaknesses of full suite of NETs that can help inform the decision making for policy makers and stakeholders. Areas of focus Environment Jay Fuhrman Haewon McJeon Scott C. Doney William Shobe Professor Shobe splits his time between the Batten School and UVa’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, where he heads up the Center for Economic and Policy Studies. He also teaches a class in environmental economics for the UVa Economics Department. His current research includes emission market and auction design, environmental federalism, improved economic modeling of Virginia’s economy, state economic development incentives, and state economic forecasting. Read full bio Andres F. Clarens Related Content William Shobe Emerging Issues in Decentralized Resource Governance: Environmental Federalism, Spillovers, and Linked Socio-Ecological Systems Research Federalism as an academic discipline studies how multilevel political jurisdictions interact, both vertically and horizontally. Environmental federalism shifts and expands the focus by concentrating on environmental goods, which are related to ecosystem services. This shift necessarily expands the inquiry to include investigation of how ecosystem services respond to changes in resource management by human governance institutions. The Economic Impacts of Positive Feedbacks Resulting from Deforestation Research Forests can affect environmental conditions in ways that enhance their survival. This effect may contribute to a positive feedback whereby deforestation could degrade environmental conditions and inhibit forest re-establishment. Summer Savior: Students Flocking to Weldon Cooper Center's Clean Energy Initiative News Upon realizing the vast number of students who were suddenly losing summer jobs and internships, the Cooper Center leapt into action. Batten Professor Bill Shobe and his team made the decision to take on as many interns for its Virginia Clean Energy Project as it could possibly handle.