Sustainable Systems Forum

April 8, 2022: Bridging modeling, measurement, and policy to address the climate impacts of natural gas

April 8, 2022: Bridging modeling, measurement, and policy to address the climate impacts of natural gas

ABSTRACT:

The next decade will be pivotal for climate action. Prof. Edwards will discuss new modeling and measurement approaches to address the climate impacts of natural gas systems in an increasingly decentralized policy landscape. Her presentation weaves together several related projects at the Climate Action Lab. The first project quantifies global emissions from existing and proposed natural gas plants and uses systems modeling to identify location-specific retirement strategies to meet climate goals. The second project combines utility-reported data, on the ground measurements, community interviews, and document and legal analysis to assess efforts to reduce methane emissions from local distribution systems in Massachusetts, where pipelines are particularly leak-prone. The third project evaluates disparities in the adoption of heat pumps across the U.S. and implications for policies promoting electrification in the buildings sector. By combining multiple lines of evidence, this work triangulates insights for science-based policies to reduce near- and long-term impacts of natural gas use.

BIO: 

Morgan Edwards is an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs. Her research and teaching focus on just energy responses to the climate crisis across policymaking scales. She draws on mixed quantitative and qualitative methods, combining large datasets and community knowledge with systems modeling, to assess and track the multi-dimensional impacts of energy systems. Current projects focus on monitoring and phaseout of natural gas use in electricity and buildings, modeling the impacts of carbon dioxide removal technologies, and applications of satellite Earth observations to sustainable energy planning and policy. Professor Edwards received her Ph.D. in Engineering Systems from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), her S.M. in Technology and Policy from MIT, and her B.S. in Environmental Science and Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before coming to Madison, she was a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland.

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MARCH 11, 2022: Pathways to deep decarbonization: How can we model realistic and robust strategies?

MARCH 11, 2022: Pathways to deep decarbonization: How can we model realistic and robust strategies?

ABSTRACT:

More than 100 countries have proposed or are considering a net zero emissions target for mid-century. But how can we get there? To assess future decarbonization pathways, integrated assessment modeling methods (IAMs) have been used to model the coupled human-natural system and evaluate the cost and environmental implications of different mitigation strategies. While most IAMs still focus on optimal, idealized policies, real-world decisions need to balance competing objectives, manage future uncertainties, and ensure political feasibility. In this talk, I will discuss recent efforts from my group to advance IAMs by: a) adding decision science methods to identify robust strategies under future uncertainties, and b) adding social science insights to identify realistic strategies under social and political constraints. I will demonstrate a range of modeling examples, from the surprisingly inexpensive cost of state-driven climate policy in the United States to the unequal regional distribution of air pollution and health effects from a global carbon price.

BIO:

Wei Peng is an assistant professor of international affairs and civil and environmental engineering, SIA’s first joint appointment faculty member with the College of Engineering.  Peng’s research focuses on the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of energy policies in both emerging markets and advanced economies. Prior to her arrival at SIA, Peng was a Giorgio Ruffolo Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Her research has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nature Energy, and Nature Sustainability, among others. She earned her Ph.D. in science, technology, and environmental policy from Princeton University and her B.S. in environmental science from Peking University.

Visit her personal website to learn more.

FEBRUARY 18, 2022: Low-Carbon Energy Transitions: Understanding Trade-Offs between Sustainability and Equality

FEBRUARY 18, 2022: Low-Carbon Energy Transitions: Understanding Trade-Offs between Sustainability and Equality

abstract

In recent years, nations have expressed a desire for their energy transitions to be as equitable as possible. However, most energy system decarbonization models lay pathways using cost minimization as a primary driver for change. Within these models, environmental sustainability or distributional equity is often a secondary measurement or a constraint in the least-cost optimization. Further compounding the complexity of designing an equitable energy transition, many models do not quantify the sustainability and equality trade-offs of different energy system pathways. In this research, we develop a framework for analyzing the trade-offs between sustainability, and equality under different electricity system decarbonization transition pathways (e.g., 100% low-carbon electricity by 2035 and US Nationally Determined Contributions). We accomplish this by coupling a least cost capacity expansion optimization model with a decision analysis model.

Environmental sustainability is measured using lifecycle and operating emissions (CO2eq, NOx, SO2,PM). Equality is measured using the distribution of air pollution across regions and indicators (e.g., median income). In the scenario that takes no additional policy action, life cycle PM emissions rise by 85% in the lowest income group (<$50,000), but decrease by 24% in the highest income group (>$70,000) from 2010 to 2050. Likewise, in the scenario that reaches100% renewable energy by 2035, life cycle PM emissions rise by 28% in the lowest income group and decrease by 69% in the highest income group. These results indicate that using cost as a driver will not guarantee an equitable energy transition.

bio

Dr. Destenie Nock is a leader in energy justice and sustainable energy transition trade-off analysis. In her role as an Assistant Professor in Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE), and Engineering and Public Policy (EPP) she creates optimization and decision analysis tools which evaluate the sustainability, equity, and reliability of power systems in the US and Sub-Saharan Africa. One of her current projects includes developing a framework for understanding the sustainability and equity trade-offs for different power plant investments under national decarbonization targets.  As a part of this effort she developed a method for quantifying the air pollution emissions associated with electric transmission and distribution systems.  A notable contribution to the energy justice space is her energy equity gap metric which quantifies the outdoor temperature at which households turn on their air conditioning units. Through this work she has shown that low income households wait 4 - 7 degrees F longer than their high income counterparts to turn on their AC units. 

Dr. Nock holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she was an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, and an Offshore Wind Energy IGERT Fellow. She earned a MSc in Leadership for Sustainable Development at Queen's University of Belfast, and two BS degrees in Electrical Engineering and Applied Math at North Carolina A&T State University.  She is the creator of the Black Electricity Blog site which posts articles about graduate and undergraduate advice, and research updates in energy and sustainability.

Google scholar page: https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=PSZN_hMAAAAJ

Personal website with blog: https://destenienock5.wixsite.com/destenienock

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FEBRUARY 11, 2022: From Paris to Glasgow- Integrated Assessment Modeling for Deep Decarbonization

FEBRUARY 11, 2022: From Paris to Glasgow- Integrated Assessment Modeling for Deep Decarbonization

abstract

Over 100 nations have issued new commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ahead of the United Nations Conference of the Parties, or COP26, in Glasgow. We analyzed those new pledges, or nationally determined commitments (NDCs), and assessed how they could shape Earth’s climate. We find the latest NDCs could chart a course where limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius and under within this century is now significantly more likely. However, we are still far away from the stated goal of limiting temperature change to 1.5 degrees or less. In this talk, I’ll be discussing the integrated assessment modeling tool we used to analyze emissions and climate: Global Change Analysis Model (GCAM), and how these tools can help provide quantitative basis for assessing climate pledges. Furthermore, using the recent U.S. Long-Term Strategy as an example, I’ll discuss how integrated assessment modeling tools can help chart out deep decarbonization pathways towards net-zero emissions to bridge the gap between the current climate action and the long-term goal of limiting climate change to well-below 2 degrees or 1.5 degrees.

BIO

Haewon McJeon is a Senior Research Scientist jointly appointed at the Joint Global Change Research Institute and the Center for Global Sustainability through a partnership between the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Maryland. His research focuses on the development of low-carbon, carbon-neutral, and carbon-negative pathways for climate change mitigation. He has also published widely on the role of fossil fuels in climate change, decarbonization technologies, and decision making under uncertainty.

Haewon served as the lead Integrated Assessment Modeler for the U.S. Long-Term Strategy. He also served as the modeling lead for the America’s Pledge project. Throughout his career, he has worked closely with government agencies, foundations, and the private sector.

Dr. McJeon holds a Ph.D. and a Master’s degree in Environmental Policy from University of Maryland and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Seoul National University.

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JANUARY 21, 2022: SUSTAINABLE LOCAL SYSTEMS – CLIMATE ACTION IN ANN ARBOR

JANUARY 21, 2022: SUSTAINABLE LOCAL SYSTEMS – CLIMATE ACTION IN ANN ARBOR

abstract

Ever wondered what it’s like to bridge theory, policy, and practice? Join this presentation from the City’s Sustainability Director, Missy Stults, to understand more about what the City of Ann Arbor is doing to achieve their goal of achieving a just transition to community-wide carbon neutrality. The discussion will center on the City’s efforts, getting feedback from stakeholders, and exploring how the City’s work integrates with promising practices emerging around the country.

Bio

 

Dr. Missy Stults is the Sustainability and Innovations Manager for the City of Ann Arbor. In this role, she works with all city operations, residents, businesses, the University of Michigan, nonprofits, and others to make Ann Arbor one of the most sustainable and equitable cities in America. Prior to joining the City, Missy worked with local governments and indigenous communities around the nation to advance their climate and sustainability goals, including during her time as the Climate Director at ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability and as a consultant to philanthropic organizations. Missy has a PhD in urban resilience from the University of Michigan, a Masters in Climate and Society from Columbia University, and undergraduate degrees in Marine Biology and Environmental Science from the University of New England.

For a limited time, you can view the recording here

JANUARY 14, 2022: PATHWAYS FOR CARBON NEUTRALITY IN CHINA

JANUARY 14, 2022: PATHWAYS FOR CARBON NEUTRALITY IN CHINA

Abstract

In order to keep global average temperature rise to within 1.5-2C, global anthropogenic GHG emissions must reach net zero by around mid-century and become net negative in the second half of the century. Globally, this could imply a ten-fold increase in renewable energy capacity from 2020 to 2050. As the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter and energy consumer, China's energy sector transformation is at the heart of this challenge. China has announced commitments to achieve net carbon neutrality by 2060 and pathways to achieve this would rely upon unprecedented deployment of renewable energy and negative emissions technologies (NETs) in the power sector. We develop a spatially-explicit model of renewable energy resource availability in China with key operational detail in the power system in order to assess optimal deployment of wind, solar, storage, and transmission in 2060. Our results indicate massive increases are required across all technologies and, in particular, that land use constraints become increasingly binding at these higher penetrations. Sensitivities across a range of technological and cost parameters indicate key relationships (e.g., solar build-out as a function of storage costs) that demonstrate the potential for different power sector mixes to achieve climate goals.

Bio

Michael Davidson is an assistant professor joint with the School of Global Policy and Strategy and the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Davidson’s teaching and research focus on the engineering implications and institutional conflicts inherent in deploying low-carbon energy at scale to mitigate environmental harms, specializing in applications to China, India, and the U.S. He uses engineering models, econometric techniques, and qualitative data on system operator decision-making situations to explore the causes and consequences of incomplete institutional reforms to power sectors. Dr. Davidson is a faculty member with the 21st Century China Center, the Center for Commerce and Diplomacy, and the Japan Forum on Innovation and Technology at UC San Diego. He is a fellow in the Public Intellectuals Program at the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. Prior to UCSD, he was a post-doctoral research fellow in the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He holds a Ph.D. in engineering systems and an S.M. in technology and policy from MIT, and a B.S. in mathematics and physics and a B.A. in Japanese studies from Case Western Reserve University. He was previously the U.S.-China Climate Policy Coordinator for the environmental non-profit Natural Resources Defense Council and was a Fulbright Fellow to Tsinghua University.

Sustainable Systems Forum- Winter 2022

Sustainable Systems Forum- Winter 2022

join us on select fridays during the winter term!

We invite the University of Michigan community to join us for the Sustainable Systems Forum. Each event will run from 12pm-2pm, EST. The first hour will feature interdisciplinary talks that address a range of sustainability topics. The second hour will be reserved for meetings with students from all disciplines. Please contact css.info@umich.edu with questions.

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NOVEMBER 19, 2021: Towards developing low carbon and sustainable pathways in India

NOVEMBER 19, 2021: Towards developing low carbon and sustainable pathways in India

Abstract

The Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP) is one of India's leading think tanks, with a mission to enrich policymaking with innovative approaches using science and technology for a sustainable, secure and inclusive society. Our work is in the areas of climate, environment, sustainability, energy, AI for social impact and new materials. Our research leverages innovative technology-based ideas to solve developmental challenges. In this talk I will touch upon the broad areas of our work and our approach to making impact. I will provide two examples: one from our work on renewable energy grid planning and another from our work on electric mobility. The purpose of the talk is to explore opportunities for collaboration and also highlight the challenges that a think tank faces while trying to bring rigour to practical problems faced by public entities looking to implement low-carbon solutions.

Bio

Dr Jai Asundi is the Executive Director at the Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP), Bangalore, India. CSTEP is a not-for-profit research organisation with a mission to enrich policymaking with innovative approaches, using science and technology for a sustainable, secure, and inclusive society. He has been involved in research and development projects in multiple areas and his current focus is on organisational development. He spearheaded the creation of the Centre for Air Pollution Studies at CSTEP and the establishment of AI for Social Impact as sector of research. His research interests lie in the areas of information technology for development and is working on the development of decisions support systems for a variety of public policy problems. He is a senior member of the IEEE. Prior to CSTEP, Dr. Asundi was faculty in Information Systems at the University of Texas at Dallas. He holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh where he is currently Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy.
Website: https://cstep.in/team.php?id=1070
Twitter: @JaiAsundi
LinkedIn: https://in.linkedin.com/in/jaiasundi

ZOOM VIRTUAL MEETING:

For a limited time, you may view a recording of the talk.

The public talk will run from Noon - 1:00 PM, with two 30-minute small group sessions to follow.