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


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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Figure 1: Primary energy development under energy independence and climate policy scenarios.
Figure 2: Main energy system changes from energy independence compared with climate policies scenarios.
Figure 3: Emission and energy trade impacts of energy independence and climate policy scenarios.
Figure 4: Global policy costs for energy independence and climate policy scenarios to 2050.
Figure 5: Regional policy costs for energy independence compared with climate policy scenarios to 2050.

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The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007–2013 under grant agreement no. 282846 (LIMITS). A.C. and V.V. also received support from CEU’s Intellectual Themes Initiative. We would also like to thank P. Kolp for technical support.

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Authors and Affiliations



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.

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Correspondence to Jessica Jewell.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary Figures 1–13, Supplementary Tables 1–16, Supplementary Notes 1–5, Supplementary References. (PDF 2393 kb)

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Jewell, J., Vinichenko, V., McCollum, D. et al. Comparison and interactions between the long-term pursuit of energy independence and climate policies. Nat Energy 1, 16073 (2016).

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