Analysis

Comparison and interactions between the long-term pursuit of energy independence and climate policies

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Abstract

Ensuring energy security and mitigating climate change are key energy policy priorities. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group III report emphasized that climate policies can deliver energy security as a co-benefit, in large part through reducing energy imports. Using five state-of-the-art global energy-economy models and eight long-term scenarios, we show that although deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions would reduce energy imports, the reverse is not true: ambitious policies constraining energy imports would have an insignificant impact on climate change. Restricting imports of all fuels would lower twenty-first-century emissions by only 2–15% against the Baseline scenario as compared with a 70% reduction in a 450 stabilization scenario. Restricting only oil imports would have virtually no impact on emissions. The modelled energy independence targets could be achieved at policy costs comparable to those of existing climate pledges but a fraction of the cost of limiting global warming to 2 C.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Energy Program, 2361 Laxenburg, Austria

    • Jessica Jewell
    • , David McCollum
    • , Keywan Riahi
    • , Oliver Fricko
    •  & Volker Krey
  2. Central European University, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, 1051 Budapest, Hungary

    • Vadim Vinichenko
    •  & Aleh Cherp
  3. Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Research Domain Sustainable Solutions, 14473 Potsdam, Germany

    • Nico Bauer
    •  & Tino Aboumahboub
  4. Graz University of Technology, 8010 Graz, Austria

    • Keywan Riahi
  5. University of Utrecht, Faculty of Geosciences, 3584 CS Utrecht, The Netherlands

    • Mathijs Harmsen
    •  & Detlef P. van Vuuren
  6. PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, Department of Climate, Air and Energy, 3720 AH Bilthoven, The Netherlands

    • Mathijs Harmsen
    •  & Detlef P. van Vuuren
  7. Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands, Policy Studies, 1043 NT Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    • Tom Kober
    •  & Bob van der Zwaan
  8. Paul Scherrer Institut, Energy Economics Group, 5232 Villigen, Switzerland

    • Tom Kober
  9. Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Programme, 20123 Milan, Italy

    • Giacomo Marangoni
    •  & Massimo Tavoni
  10. Centro Euromediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici, 73100 Lecce, Italy

    • Giacomo Marangoni
    •  & Massimo Tavoni
  11. Politecnico di Milano, Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, 20156 Milan, Italy

    • Giacomo Marangoni
    •  & Massimo Tavoni
  12. University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Science, 1098 Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    • Bob van der Zwaan
  13. Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies, 40126 Bologna, Italy

    • Bob van der Zwaan
  14. International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics, Lund University, 22100 Lund, Sweden

    • Aleh Cherp

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Contributions

J.J., A.C., K.R., D.M. and V.K. designed the experiments. J.J. and V.V. analysed the data. V.V., D.M., N.B., T.A., O.F., M.H., T.K., V.K., G.M., M.T., D.P.v.V. and B.v.d.Z. performed the experiments and contributed tools and analysis methods. J.J. and A.C. wrote the paper with input from all authors.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jessica Jewell.

Supplementary information

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  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Figures 1–13, Supplementary Tables 1–16, Supplementary Notes 1–5, Supplementary References.