Neutralizing China’s Transportation Sector Requires Combined Decarbonization Efforts from Power and Hydrogen Supply
Yan Ru Fang, Wei Peng, Johannes Urpelainen, M.S. Hossain, Yue Qin, Teng Ma, Ming Ren, Xiaorui Liu, Silu Zhang, Chen Huang, Hancheng Dai. Applied Energy. 2023.
This paper uses a bottom-up energy system optimization model to analyze the changes in CO2 emissions from the transportation sector under two different scenarios. The first scenario examines the actions from only the transportation sector, while the second scenario incorporates technologies and actions from the power and hydrogen sectors in addition to the transportation sector. Our results indicate that it will be difficult to completely meet China’s decarbonization goals through intervention solely from the transportation sector. However, incorporating a more integrated approach by using technologies from the hydrogen and power sector could offer a promising pathway to achieve carbon neutrality. Achieving carbon neutrality will also require significant changes in the transportation sector, such as an increase in demand in hydrogen and electricity in the near future. It is also vital that these hydrogen and power sectors use renewable energy sources and decarbonization technologies like carbon capture.
Multi-Dimensional and Region-Specific Planning for Coal Retirements
Nada Maamoun, Ryan Kennedy, Wei Peng, Durand D'souza, Matthew Gray, Stefan Lavelle, Lily Chau, Nicolás González-Jiménez, Valeria Ehrenheim, Magali Joseph & Johannes Urpelainen. iScience. 2023.
Early retirement of coal-fired power is essential to meet our climate mitigation targets. When creating potential coal retirement pathways, a majority of research has put a substantial amount of weight on the age of the coal power plants, which often overlooks the important health and economic factors. In this paper, we designed multiple retirement schedules with different weighting schemes that incorporate factors like operating costs and air pollution hazards in addition to age. Pathways that put a greater weight on age showed that most of the coal retirements would be in the US and EU. When economic and health impacts are given more weight, we see that a majority of these coal retirements would be in China and India. Our analysis emphasizes the importance of designing region-specific pathways that better align with local characteristics and priorities.
Effects of Global Climate Mitigation on Regional Air Quality and Health
Xinyuan Huang, Vivek Srikrishnan, Jonathan Lamontagne, Klaus Keller & Wei Peng. Nature Sustainability. 2023.
Using a coupled climate-energy-health model, we analyzed the health and climate impacts of a carbon tax using around 30,000 future scenarios. As a carbon tax reduces fossil fuel consumption, countries with high levels of air pollution are most likely to experience lower levels of PM 2.5 exposure and associated mortality risks. However, we found a surprising result that in some countries with lower pollution levels, the implementation of a carbon price can increase the mortality risks for these countries in some scenarios. These risks are driven by the increase in emissions from bioenergy and land use changes, such as deforestation.
Equity Implications of Electric Vehicles: A Systematic Review on the Spatial Distribution of Emissions, Air Pollution, and Health Impacts
Anjali Sharma, Jinyu Shiwang, Anna Lee & Wei Peng. Environmental Research Letters. 2023.
Using the Context-Interventions-Mechanisms-Outcome framework, this literature review paper studies the spatial distributions of CO2 emissions, air pollution emissions, and health impacts generated from electric vehicles. We found two main mechanisms that impact the distribution of environmental and health burdens from electric vehicles. Due to cross-sectoral linkages, emissions generated the power and manufacturing sector can even impact areas where electric vehicles are not implemented. Location-specific factors, such as wind transport and socio-demographic characteristics, may also play a role in the spatial distributions of emissions and health impacts.
Narrowing Fossil Fuel Consumption in the Indian Road Transport Sector Towards Reaching Carbon Neutrality
M.S. Hossain, Yan Ru Fang, Teng Ma, Chen Huang, Wei Peng, Johannes Urpelainen, Chetan Hebbale & Hancheng Dai. Energy Policy. 2023.
This paper assesses the role of battery electric vehicles (BEV's) and fuel-cell vehicles (FCV's) can have as a cost-effective option in achieving India’s carbon neutrality goal. Our results indicate that while the usage of just BEV’s may not be efficient enough to achieve India’s climate goals, FCV’s have the ability to reduce more than 96% of road transport emissions.
Feasible Climate Mitigation
Paul C. Stern, Thomas Dietz, Kristian S. Nielsen, Wei Peng & Michael P. Vandenbergh. Nature Climate Change. 22 December 2022.
Despite the widespread implementation of climate change mitigation trajectories to achieve carbon neutrality, many governments and companies are still not meeting their set emission goals. Focusing our research efforts to study the feasibility of specific climate initiatives can offer crucial insight on why some of the most ambitious climate policies fall short. Researchers can better assess the feasibility of these climate mitigation initiatives through studying three main components: adoption, implementation, and behavioural plasticity.
Socio-Demographic Factors Shaping the Future Global Health Burden from Air Pollution
Hui Yang, Xinyuan Huang, Daniel M. Westervelt, Larry Horowitz, & Wei Peng. Nature Sustainability. 24 October 2022.
Using an integrated modelling framework with 5 2015-2100 scenarios that represent various socio-demographic trends, air quality control policies, and climate targets, we study how the global health burden from air pollution may be exacerbated due to a combination of various socio-demographic factors, new technologies, and policies. We find that cleaner air does not always result in lower projected PM2.5-related premature deaths, especially if the size of vulnerable populations increases.
Integrating Air Quality and Health Considerations into Power Sector Decarbonization Strategies
Wei Peng and Yang Ou. Environ. Res. Lett. 5 August 2022.
How to integrate air quality and health concerns into the efforts to decarbonize the power sector? In this Perspective, we summarize the findings of the literature and identify four priorities: (1) Displacing the old: targeting highly polluting sources in densely populated regions; (2) Building the new: scaling up electrification with decarbonized electricity; (3) Connecting the states: minimizing cross-state damages from electricity trade and pollution transport; (4) Protecting the poor: placing equity at the center of low-carbon energy infrastructure design.
Climate action with revenue recycling has benefits for poverty, inequality and well-being
Mark Budolfson, Francis Dennig, Frank Errickson, ..., Wei Peng, et al. Nature Climate Change. 28 October 2021.
Using the Nested Inequalities Climate Economy (NICE) model, we show that an equal per capita refund of carbon tax revenues implies that achieving a 2 °C target can pay large and immediate dividends for improving well-being, reducing inequality and alleviating poverty. Accounting for these dynamics corrects a long-standing bias against strong immediate climate action in the optimal policy literature.
Protecting the poor with a carbon tax and equal per capita dividend
Mark Budolfson, Francis Dennig, Frank Errickson, ..., Wei Peng, et al. Nature Climate Change. 29 November 2021.
We find that if all countries adopt the necessary uniform global carbon tax and then return the revenues to their citizens on an equal per capita basis, it will be possible to meet a 2 °C target while also increasing wellbeing, reducing inequality and alleviating poverty. These results indicate that it is possible for a society to implement strong climate action without compromising goals for equity and development.
To achieve deep cuts in US emissions, state-driven policy is only slightly more expensive than nationally uniform policy.
Wei Peng, Gokul Iyer, Matthew Binsted, Jennifer Marlon, Leon Clarke, James A Edmonds & David G Victor. Nature Climate Change. 28 October 2021.
A multi-sector model of human and natural systems reveals that the nationwide cost from state-varying climate policy in the United States is only one-tenth higher than that of nationally uniform policy. The benefits of state-led action — leadership, experimentation and the practical reality that states implement policy more reliably than the federal government — do not necessarily come with a high economic cost.
Emissions and Health Implications of Pennsylvania's Entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Hui Yang, An Thu Pham, Joel Reid Landry, Seth Adam Blumsack, & Wei Peng Environmental Science and Technology. 31 August 2021.
As a major power producer and carbon emitter, Pennsylvania plans to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in 2022. We find the cumulative monetized health cobenefits to be 17.7 to 40.8 billion USD for Pennsylvania. However, the reduced emissions and health damages in Pennsylvania are slightly offset by increases in the other states in PJM that do not participate in RGGI.
The surprisingly inexpensive cost of state-driven emission control strategies
Wei Peng, Gokul Iyer, Matthew Binsted, Jennifer Marlon, Leon Clarke, James A. Edmonds & David G. Victor Nature Climate Change. 23 August 2021.
Traditionally, analysis of the costs of cutting greenhouse gas emissions has assumed that governments would implement idealized, optimal policies such as uniform economy-wide carbon taxes. Yet actual policies in the real world are often highly heterogeneous and vary in political support and administrative capabilities within a country. For a wide array of national decarbonization targets, we find that the nationwide cost from heterogeneous subnational policies is only one-tenth higher than nationally uniform policies.
Wei Peng, Sung Eun Kim, Pallav Purohit, Johannes Urpelainen, Fabian Wagner. One Earth. 5 August 2021.
Political feasibility is at the center of air-pollution policymaking in the developing world, affecting both the choices of policies and their implementation outcomes. Using India as a test case, we demonstrate how political considerations (e.g., public opinion, market structure, and government capacity) can be incorporated into quantitative models for environmental impact assessment.
U.S. - China Collaboration is Vital to Global Plans for a Healthy Environment and Sustainable Development.
Ming Xu, Glen T. Daigger, Chuanwu Xi, ..., Wei Peng, et al. Environmental Science & Technology. 25 June 2021.
The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a framework for national and international efforts to further economic development, end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure peace and prosperity for all people by 2030. By building closer collaborations at both governmental and nongovernmental levels and sustained collaborations on science and technology, the U.S. and China can act together to help achieve the SDGs by utilizing complementary expertise and resources.
Climate policy models need to get real about people - here's how
Wei Peng, Gokul Iyer, Valentina Bosetti, Vaibhav Chaturvedi, James Edmonds, Allen A. Fawcett, Sephane Hallegatte, David G Vitor, Detlef van Vuuren, John Weyant. Nature. 8 June 2021.
Political support for decarbonizing the global economy is at an all-time high. However, the computer models that analysts use to assess routes to achieve such goals are missing a crucial factor: politics. This article identifies eight key areas in which insights from IAM specialists and political economists can improve models’ relevance for real-world policy and investment choices
The importance of health co-benefits under different climate policy cooperation frameworks
Noah Scovronik, David Anthoff, Francis Dennig, Frank Errickson, Maddalena Ferranna, Wei Peng, Dean Spears, Fabian Wagner, Mark Budolfson. Environmental Research Letters. 11 May 2021.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions has the 'co-benefit' of also reducing air pollution and associated impacts on human health. Here, we incorporate health co-benefits into estimates of the optimal climate policy for three different climate policy regimes. We find that air quality co-benefits always motivate substantially reduced emissions, but that some form of global cooperation is required to prevent runaway temperature rise.
Opportunities for household energy on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in line with United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals
Minghao Zhuang, Xi Lu, Wei Peng, Yanfen Wang, Jianxiao Wang, Chris P. Nielsen, Michael B. McElroy. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. July 2021.
Approximately seven million population in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau of China, a global climate-sensitive region, still rely primarily on yak dung for household cooking and heating. The perspective discusses the benefits and challenges for a transition from yak dung towards renewable energy system in this region.
Clean air actions in China, PM2.5 exposure, and household medical expenditures: A quasi-experimental study
Tao Xue, Tong Zhu, Wei Peng, Tianjia Guan, Shiqiu Zhang, Yixuan Zheng, Guannan Geng, Qiang Zhang. PLOS Medicine. 6 January 2021.
Exposure to air pollution, a leading contributor to the global burden of disease, can cause economic losses. Driven by clean air policies, the air quality in China, one of the most polluted countries, has improved rapidly since 2013. This has enabled a unique, quasi-experiment to assess the economic impact of air pollution empirically.
Trade-offs for equitable climate policy assessed
Wei Peng. Nature. 9 December 2020.
Computational models show that regionally varied prices for carbon emissions can greatly reduce the need for poor countries to receive financial assistance to tackle climate change, while still stabilizing global warming.
Energy Use for Electricity Generation Requires an Assessment More Directly Relevant to Climate Change
Bruce E. Logan, Ruggero Rossi, Gahyun Baek, Le Shi, Jacqueline O'Connor, & Wei Peng. ACS Energy Letters. 21 October 2020.
In order to communicate the effects of changing energy consumption, the discourse surrounding energy should be altered to convey energy production in units unassociated in fuel combustion, to avoid exaggeration of energy used for the production of renewables, and present only the primary energy in fossil fuels for electricity production.
The Critical Role of Policy Enforcement in Achieveinng Health, Air Quality & Climate Benefits from India's Clean Electricity Transition
Wei Peng, Hancheng Dai, Hao Guo, Pallav Purohit, Johannes Urpelainen, Fabian Wagner, Yazhen Qu, & Honglian Zhang. Environmental Science and Technology. Aug 2020.
Although the Indian government has issued a series of clean air policies and low-carbon energy targets, a key barrier remains enforcement. Here, we quantify the importance of policy implementation in India’s electricity sector. The results underscore the important role of effectively implementing existing policies to simultaneously achieve air pollution, health, and carbon mitigation goals in India.
Potential Uses of Coal Methane in China and Associated Benefits for Air Quality, Health, and Climate
Mingyang Zhang, Jordaan Sarah M., Wei Peng, Qiang Zhang & Scot M. Miller. Environmental Science and Technology. August 2020.
China recently set goals to capture and utilize methane from coal seams as a source of unconventional natural gas. We find that these goals would decrease the total carbon emissions, and that mitigated methane emissions dominate these reductions and confer a much larger climate benefit than would be expected.
Enabling a Rapid and Just Transition Away from Coal in China
Gang He, Jiang Lin, Ying Zhang, Wenhua Zhang, Guilherme Larangeira, Chao Zhang, Wei Peng, Manzi Liu & Fuqiang Yang. One Earth. August 2020.
As the world's largest coal producer and consumer, China's transition from coal to cleaner energy sources is critical for achieving global decarbonization. This paper explores China's current coal-transition policies, their barriers, and the potential for an accelerated transition, as well as the associated environmental, human health, and employment and social justice issues that may arise from the transition.
Cross-State Air Polutting Transport Calls for More Centralization in India's Environment Federalism
Xinming Dum Hao Guo, Hongliang Zhang, Wei Peng, Johannes Urpelainen Atmospheric Pollution Research. July 2020.
To understand the challenge of transboundary air pollution transfer in India, we use a detailed emissions inventory and a source-oriented chemical transport model to explore state-to-state flows of emissions within the world's largest democracy, India, where poor air quality has caused a public health crisis. To solve the air pollution crisis, India needs a more centralized form of environmental federalism.
An Ultra-Low Emission Coal Power Fleet for Cleaner but not Hotter Air
Yana Jin, Wei Peng, and Johannes Urpelainen. Environmental Research Letters. August 2020.
Air pollution has galvanized opposition to coal-fired power generation, but counting on concerns over air pollution to promote a coal-to-renewables shift for addressing the climate threrat in the long run is a risky bet. By investing in an ultra-low emission (ULE) coal fleet, emerging countries can solve the air pollution problem in an affordable manner. Recognizing this reality, we call for an updated view of the role of coal power in emerging countries and in the global effort to avoid climate disruption.
The Impact of Human Health Co-benefits on Evaluations of Global Climate Policy
Noah Scovronick, Mark Budolfson, Francis Dennig, Frank Errickson, Marc Fleurbaey, Wei Peng, Robert H. Socolow, Dean Spears & Fabian Wagner. Nature Communications. May 2019.
Reductions in air pollutants emissions resulting from CO2 mitigation provide both the health co-benefits and the climate co-harms (as air emission pollutants produce net cooling overall). By relying on the modified RICE model, we find that when both co-benefits and co-harms are taken fully into account, optimal climate policy results in immediate net benefits globally, overturning previous findings from cost-benefit models that omit these effects.
Gasification of Coal and Biomass as a Net Carbon-negative Power Source for Environment-friendly Electricity Generation in China
Xi Lu, Liang Cao, Haikun Wang, Wei Peng, Jia Xing, Shuxiao Wang, Siyi Cai, Bo Shen, Qing Yang, Chris P. Nielsen, and Michael B. McElroy. PNAS. March 2019
We focus on deploying a combination of coal and biomass energy to produce electricity in China using an integrated gasification cycle system combined with carbon capture and storage (CBECCS). We find that CBECCS systems employing a crop residue of 35% could produce electricity with net-zero life-cycle emissions of greenhouse gases. Our findings suggest that CBECCS strategy is a promising solution for China to achieve its both short-term air pollution abatement and long-term carbon mitigation goals.
Managing China's Coal Power Plants for Multiple Environmental Objectives
Wei Peng, Fabian Wagner, M.V. Ramana, Haibo Zhai, Mitchell Small, Carole Dalin, Xin Zhang, Denise L. Mauzerall. Nature Sustainability. November 2018.
We find lower CO2 emissions in 2030 than 2015 only with substantial renewable generation or low projected electricity demand. Meanwhile, we observe lower air pollution and water impacts when current regulations and prices for air pollutant emissions and water are imposed on coal power plants. Increasing the price of air emissions or water alone can lead to a tradeoff between these two objectives, mainly driven by differences between air pollution-oriented and water-oriented transmission system designs that influence where coal units will be built and retired.
Air Quality-Carbon-Water Synergies and Tradeoffs in China's Natural Gas Industry
Yue Qin, Lena Hoglund-Isaksson, Edward Byers, Kuishuang Feng, Fabian Wagner, Wei Peng, Denise L. Mauzerall. Nature Sustainability. September 2018.
We examine the air quality–carbon–water interdependencies of China’s six major natural gas sources and three end-use gas-for-coal substitution strategies in 2020. We find that replacing coal with gas sources other than coal-based synthetic natural gas (SNG) generally offers national air quality–carbon–water co-benefits. However, SNG achieves air quality benefits while increasing carbon emissions and water demand, particularly in regions that already suffer from high per capita carbon emissions and severe water scarcity.
Climate, Air Quality and Human Health Benefits of Various Solar Photovoltaic Deployment Scenarios in China in 2030
Junnan Yang, Xiaoyuan Li, Wei Peng, Fabian Wagner, DeniseL. Mauzerall.
Environmental Research Letters. May 2018.