Two workers wearing hard hats on a solar farm with wind turbines in the background

Decarbonizing Energy Systems

Two workers wearing hard hats on a solar farm with wind turbines in the background

Photo by LL28 / Getty Images

The international community has agreed that net human emissions of greenhouse gases must approach zero in the second half of this century to halt climate change at an acceptable level.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, nations committed to targets for reducing emissions as a mechanism to hold future global warming at less than two degrees Celsius.

But current commitments are insufficient to meet this target. If the two degree limit continues to be the guiding objective of international climate policy, then achieving faster and deeper reductions in emissions will be a critical challenge.

Decarbonization will require action on multiple fronts – changes in alternative and renewable energy technologies, industrial innovation, new modes of mobility, and shifting consumer preferences – all of which will be influenced by decisions at local, national, and global scales. Such action will create both costs and benefits. Therefore, a solid foundation of evidence is needed to support decision-making and balance potential trade-offs among decarbonization options.

RAND's work in this area is helping to provide decision-makers with new insights and solutions on a range of important topics:

  • Analysis of technology options that can contribute to decarbonization
  • Assessment of the risks, opportunities, and trade-offs associated with decarbonization technologies and policies over different time horizons
  • Identification and evaluation of governance arrangements for the design and implementation of decarbonization policies and practices
  • Examining decarbonization as a challenge of risk governance under conditions of deep uncertainty

Decarbonization Dialogues

The RAND Pardee Center is partnering with other research organizations, nonprofits, philanthropies, and businesses to better understand the global challenge of deep decarbonization. Funded by the Metanoia Fund, a series of Decarbonization Dialogues will bring together experts from different fields to tackle issues like technology development, risk governance, and tools and information for policymakers.

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