Systems-level analysis, energy and climate change
We explore the challenges of reconciling energy-related emissions with both the latest climate science and an evolving political landscape and have amassed extensive experience applying a dynamic and systems-oriented framing to our research. We explicitly acknowledge the interplay between energy demand and supply, the different but interrelated roles of electricity, heating and mobility and how technologies need to be considered within a social, political and economic setting. Transposing more disciplinary insights from science, engineering and the social sciences into system-level energy scenarios and narratives has been the hallmark of much of our research.
Taking a systems-level perspective, our specialisms include: energy system scenarios; integrating energy demand and supply; diurnal and seasonal energy system dynamics; carbon budget development; the warming impacts of non-CO2 greenhouse gases; sectoral energy analysis; energy behaviours and practices; stakeholder engagement.
We have a built a reputation of developing cogent and transparent energy scenarios. Our approach is explicitly visible and contextual, providing scenarios that are heuristic rather than cost-optimised ‘solutions’.
We interpret our research contributions as part of a wider socio-economic system and work with stakeholders to help them translate our analysis and conclusions within the more complex realms of local and national policy, all set within a global context.
We frame the climate challenge within the scientific logic of carbon budgets. However, this scientific framing only makes sense within wider societal commitments and goals, such as those enshrined in the Paris Agreement and in the domestic legislation of nations and regions. In this regard our research takes policy-makers’ commitments (from national to sectoral) at face value, subsequently transposing them into accompanying carbon budgets, emission pathways and mitigation scenarios.
We have been working on interdisciplinary, policy relevant and system-level analysis for nearly two decades and have accumulated extensive experience in this area, delivering projects funded by a wide range of bodies including: EPSRC, NERC, UKERC, BEIS (DECC), devolved administrations, regional development agencies, metropolitan councils, as well as from across the private sector and NGO community.
Previous and live projects cover a wide range of topics, including:
- EPSRC funded Stepping Up project: exploring the interactions of water, energy and food and how niche innovations across these systems could be built upon to deliver a STEP-change towards improving sustainability, in the context of a world responding to climate impacts and policies.
- UKERC funded project assessing the prospect for Rapid acceleration of car emission reductions (RACER): translating the Paris Agreement into an IPCC-based carbon budget, it downscales these to the UK and then to the car sector. It subsequently considers the scope for change across all realms, including demand management, business models, behaviour and technical decarbonisation options.
- EPSRC funded research High Seas and Shipping in changing climates projects: analysed the shipping sector’s possible response to changes in: climate (sea level rise, storm frequency), regulatory climate (mitigation and adaptation policy), and macroeconomic climate (increased trade, differing trade patterns, higher energy prices).
- RCUK funded Decarbonising the UK and private sector funded Living within a carbon budget projects: first comprehensive UK energy analyses and scenarios, including aviation and shipping, interactions between supply and demand and, in the second report, explicit global 2°C carbon budgets disaggregated to the UK.