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Briefing Papers

Summarising key findings for decision-makers and thought leaders

 

The research at 4CMR explores the relationship between energy, economic and environmental policies in the sphere of climate change. This research is then summarised periodically in a series of Briefing Papers provided to decision-makers and other thought leaders globally to inform policies. They are freely available for download below.

 

1. The Food-Energy-Water Nexus in Brazil
According to current state-of-the-art climate science, under scenarios of high global emissions, Brazil will likely suffer particularly pronounced changes in temperature (average and variations), rainfall and extreme events. Meanwhile, Brazil currently plays a an important role in the global trade of food, with over 33% of its exports made of agricultural products and food. This suggests that under either or both global environmental or economic change, Brazil could be subject to strong pressures which could lead to adverse land-use change and/or environmental degradation. This paper raises important policy questions, following our current LINKS2015/BRIDGE collaborative RCUK-CONFAP project between UCAM and UNISUL (Florianopolis, Brazil).

2. China: Emissions and Regions
Economically strong regions of China transport in products responsible for large amounts of emissions from less developed regions within China. This paper by Sören Lindner discusses the findings that policies aimed at reducing carbon intensities should reflect a consumption-based emissions accounting approach for regional China, rather than one based solely on production.

3. Health Benefits of Carbon Reduction
It is often difficult to justify carbon reduction policies based solely on arguments of climate change - policies are better supported if there are clear secondary benefits. Professor Doug Crawford-Brown discusses how findings show that the secondary benefits of improved human health, such as health care savings and increased worker productivity, can be significant with minor transport policy changes, and that carbon reduction strategies able to emphasise such savings would be more attractive to politicians and the public alike.
 
4. Walkable, Bikeable, Communities
Planning authorities are considering multi-modal transport, with significant increases in walking and biking for short trips as part of a strategy for reducing transport-related emissions. Professor Crawford-Brown discusses findings that indicate that mode switch to walking and biking for trips of less than 5 km can reduce emissions but is unlikely to go beyond small reductions unless there are fundamental changes in the spatial design of communities and the separation of walking and biking paths from motorized vehicles.
 
5. Clean Development Mechanism
As part of the Kyoto response towards climate change mitigation, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was designed to create opportunities for synergies between cost-effective climate change mitigation and sustainable development. It has been argued that the CDM is not doing enough to reduce emission.  Here, Dr. Yongfu Huang discusses findings that suggest, instead, that CDM projects have contributed to emission reductions, or decreases in the growth rate of emissions, in CDM host countries.
 
6. The Localisation of Energy Services
The UK government recognises the contribution that distributed generation can make towards reducing the nation’s carbon emissions, while central government realises the role of local government for driving policy and delivering climate change targets. This paper by Scott Kelly argues that consideration might be given to policies that drive the localisation of energy services.

7. Decarbonisation and Air Quality Improvement in Mexico
There are potentially important benefits from climate control through the reduction in air pollution. This paper presents the research findings of a project to assess the effects of a substantial reduction in emissions of CO2 unilaterally in Mexico as well as globally on some aspects of air quality in Mexico and North America.
 
8. Modelling Electricity Technology Substitution
The transformation of the energy sector is likely to have major consequences for the global economy, and it is difficult to model the energy sector without including its interactions with global economic activity. This paper explores these interdependencies and, in particular, examines the dynamics of technology substitution in connection with induced technological change.
 
9. Uncertainty, Risk and Insurance
Decisions related to developing effective climate change policies should be proportionate to the risk posed by the impacts of climate change.  Predicting impacts are, though, fraught with uncertainty. This paper argues that an effective approach to risk reduction must be rooted in the twin ideas of insurance and adaptive management.
 
10. Global Co-benefits of Decarbonisation
As decarbonisation of the global economy occurs, it brings immediate benefits to human health through the reduction of co-pollutants such as particulate matter. This paper presents the results from the Human Health Module comparing the cost of reducing emissions with the improvement in health world-wide.
During the international negotiation process under the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), mid-term targets for reducing green-house gases (GHGs) emissions have received increasing focus as a complement to long-term GHG emission projections and climate change stabilization. This paper presents AIM/Enduse[Global] as a useful tool for assessing, discussing and helping in the design of low-carbon transitions.
Risks associated with climate change are characterised by significant uncertainties. This paper presents traditional risk-based environmental decisions, and how uncertainties are addressed through the precautionary principle and development of margins of safety.
A variant of the Adaptive Regional Input-Output model has been developed to explore the vulnerability of the London economy to climate related damage. This paper presents how the model uses an Event Accounting Matrix (EAM) to specify initial damage following extreme weather, and then follows this damage through direct and indirect losses in the economy. 
 
This paper examines the feasibility and performance of four strategies and policies to reduce private vehicle mileage, and associated carbon emissions in the UK. It proposes considering a range of policy options to capture the strengths and weaknesses of each.
 
Agreements and declarations within international human rights law contain provisions that could hold relevance for communities affected by REDD+. This paper considers how these might provide a basis for protecting vulnerable communities and ensure they gain benefits from REDD+ and related projects.
 
International shipping of goods is an increasing source of carbon emissions, emissions that could be reduced through use of existing technologies that improve the logistics of shipping schedules. This paper demonstrates the potential of one such tool - Virtual Arrival - in reducing time spent idling in port, and allowing for reduced ship speed.
 
The requirements for zero carbon new buildings, set to roll out in stages after 2015 in the UK, will drive investment decisions on properties, including new offices. This paper explores development and application of a whole-life cost methodology to compare alternative measures of reaching the zero carbon goals in a building.
 
A talk delivered to Groupe BPCE in Paris on the challenges and opportunities of investment in low carbon, sustainable projects. This paper examines five case studies of such investment in the US, UK, Africa, China and globally (through supply chains). 
 
Methods of consumption-based accounting are being used to understand how the global emissions of carbon dioxide might be assigned to different production layers, allowing for development of strategies aimed at improving the carbon intensity of specific components of a production system.
 
Models of finance and governance for collective action problems in catchment scale water management are examined. The analysis describes five finance models ranging from taxes through private sector debt and equity, and considers the challenges facing each.
 
Advanced climate models provide insights for investors into the mean wind speed and expected variance under the different RCPs for climate change. This study discusses a survey of the utility of such information to wind energy developers in the UK, and implications for further model and data development. 
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A key area of research at 4CMR over the past 5 years has been the development of the Future Technology Transformation model, used in exploring how policies influence global technology and carbon. This includes an on-line visualisation tool so you can view our results.

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4CMR works closely with the Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance, with overlapping interests, skills and projects. C-EENRG is also located in the Department of Land Economy, with a core mission to "conduct integrative research on the governance of environmental transitions, understood as social and technological processes driven by environmental constraints that lead to fundamental changes in social organisation."

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