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Optimizing Climate Change Abatement Responses: On Inertia and Induced Technology Development

Grubb, M; Duong, M; Chapuis, T; (1994) Optimizing Climate Change Abatement Responses: On Inertia and Induced Technology Development. Integrative Assessment of Mitigation, Impacts, and Adaptation to Climate Change , CP-94 (009) pp. 513-534. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper reviews evidence that technical change in the energy sector has historically responded to external pressures (rather than being an autonomous process) and presents a preliminary analysis of how optimal responses to climate change may alter if abatement efforts induce technology development. This is linked with the inertia that characterises energy system dynamics. An optimising model is developed which takes these dimensions explicitly into account in a highly simplified manner. The model optimises the emissions trajectory given abatement costs which are related explicitly to both the degree and the rate of abatement. Altering the coefficients associated with each of these two dimensions reflects different perspectives on the inertia of change, relative to the ultimate technical and behavioural flexibility of society. Low inertia and high absolute costs (no induced technology development) reproduces the kind of results found in other optimising cost-benefit studies. But if the major costs are those associated with the rate but an optimistic perspective on the ultimate potential of technology and/or behavioral patterns to adapt to such constraints - the optimal strategy and long-run prospects are radically altered. In this case, abatement rises within a few years above the level incurred in the "conventional" case, and long-run stabilizaiton of atmospheric concentrations may by approached after some decades, at moderate costs, as an optimal response even for moderate valued for the climate damage function. The analysis thus highlights the importance of considering these dimensions of systemic inertia and induced technical and behavioural adaptation that have been neglected in previous quantitative studies of optimal abatement responses.

Type: Article
Title: Optimizing Climate Change Abatement Responses: On Inertia and Induced Technology Development
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/4212/
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © May 1994 by the author(s). This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/). The full publication Nakicenovic, N., Nordhaus, W.D., Richels, R. and Toth, F.L., Integrative Assessment of Mitigation, Impacts, and Adaptation to Climate Change. IIASA Colla borative Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria, CP-94-009 (1994), is available via: http://pure. iiasa.ac.at/4212/
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1471346
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