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Product Abstract

Where Has “When” Flexibility Gone?: The Role of Temporal Flexibility in Achieving Greenhouse Gas Abatement Goals

Product ID:3002007497
Date Published:27-Jun-2016
Sector Name:Environment
Document Type:Technical Results
Price:No Charge

This Product is publicly available

   1.71 MB - Adobe PDF (.pdf)


The United States recently reaffirmed its goal through the Paris Agreement to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions to 26–28% below 2005 levels in 2025, and the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan previously proposed an 80% target by 2050. This paper investigates the role of temporal flexibility from emissions banking provisions under an economy-wide cap-and-trade policy, which provides insight into the consistency between near-and long-term goals. Model results using U.S. Regional Economy, Greenhouse Gas, and Energy (US-REGEN) indicate that significant and sustained transformations must occur across many sectors of the economy to meet the 80% target. In particular, electrification and energy efficiency are key elements of economy-wide reductions, as electricity may provide over half of final energy by 2050. Given the stringency of the long-term target and convexity of marginal abatement costs, the time path for mitigation with banking suggests that 2025 abatement should exceed the pledged level (42% instead of 26–28%) to reduce cost uncertainty in later decades. Total policy costs are 30% higher when banking is excluded; however, political economy barriers and uncertainty may limit the use of banking provisions. We show how current literature on meeting the 80% target almost exclusively assumes banking, which may bias policy recommendations and have important consequences for near-term R&D prioritization and model development.

2016 Program 102   Energy and Climate Policy Analysis
  • Emissions
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Cap-and-trade
  • Paris Agreement

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