Environmental social sciences

  • Article
    | Open Access

    The decrease in costs of renewable energy and storage has not been well accounted for in energy modelling, which however will have a large effect on energy system investment and policies. Here the authors incorporated recent decrease in costs of renewable energy and storages to refine the pathways to decarbonize China’s power system by 2030 and show that if such cost trends for renewables continue, more than 60% of China’s electricity could come from non-fossil sources by 2030 at a cost that is about 10% lower than achieved through a business-as-usual approach.

    • Gang He
    • , Jiang Lin
    • , Froylan Sifuentes
    • , Xu Liu
    • , Nikit Abhyankar
    •  & Amol Phadke
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Floods are an important natural disaster on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, but their driving mechanisms are not well understood. Here, the authors utilize data from twitter messages and local newspaper reports to show that convectively coupled Kelvin waves play a key role in promoting floods on Sumatra.

    • Dariusz B. Baranowski
    • , Maria K. Flatau
    • , Piotr J. Flatau
    • , Dwikorita Karnawati
    • , Katarzyna Barabasz
    • , Michal Labuz
    • , Beata Latos
    • , Jerome M. Schmidt
    • , Jaka A. I. Paski
    •  & Marzuki
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Here the authors develop a set of global, long-term, spatial projections of urban land expansion for understanding the planet’s potential urban futures. The global total amount of urban land increases by a factor of 1.8-5.9 over the 21st century, and the developed world experiences as much new urban development as the developing world.

    • Jing Gao
    •  & Brian C. O’Neill
  • Article
    | Open Access

    There lacks a spatially explicit mapping of global carbon footprint in China that considers both international and interprovincial trade. Here the authors map the carbon footprints of global regions in China and show the hotspots concentrated in key manufacturing hubs, including the Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta, and North China Plain.

    • Yuantao Yang
    • , Shen Qu
    • , Bofeng Cai
    • , Sai Liang
    • , Zhaohua Wang
    • , Jinnan Wang
    •  & Ming Xu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    To evaluate the effectiveness of current national policies in achieving global temperature targets is important but a systematic multi-model evaluation is still lacking. Here the authors identified a reduction of 3.5 GtCO2 eq of current national policies relative to a baseline scenario without climate policies by 2030 due to the increasing low carbon share of final energy and the improving final energy intensity.

    • Mark Roelfsema
    • , Heleen L. van Soest
    • , Mathijs Harmsen
    • , Detlef P. van Vuuren
    • , Christoph Bertram
    • , Michel den Elzen
    • , Niklas Höhne
    • , Gabriela Iacobuta
    • , Volker Krey
    • , Elmar Kriegler
    • , Gunnar Luderer
    • , Keywan Riahi
    • , Falko Ueckerdt
    • , Jacques Després
    • , Laurent Drouet
    • , Johannes Emmerling
    • , Stefan Frank
    • , Oliver Fricko
    • , Matthew Gidden
    • , Florian Humpenöder
    • , Daniel Huppmann
    • , Shinichiro Fujimori
    • , Kostas Fragkiadakis
    • , Keii Gi
    • , Kimon Keramidas
    • , Alexandre C. Köberle
    • , Lara Aleluia Reis
    • , Pedro Rochedo
    • , Roberto Schaeffer
    • , Ken Oshiro
    • , Zoi Vrontisi
    • , Wenying Chen
    • , Gokul C. Iyer
    • , Jae Edmonds
    • , Maria Kannavou
    • , Kejun Jiang
    • , Ritu Mathur
    • , George Safonov
    •  & Saritha Sudharmma Vishwanathan
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Carbon emission trading is an important market-based policy instrument to reduce GHG emission using reward-punishment mechanism. Here the authors show that the EU emission trading schemes operate at its designed purpose and there is a positive and linear relationship between firm profits and the firms’ efforts in abatement.

    • Jianfeng Guo
    • , Fu Gu
    • , Yinpeng Liu
    • , Xi Liang
    • , Jianlei Mo
    •  & Ying Fan
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The emission allocation strategies of global scenarios do not specify the potential benefits from extra climate mitigation efforts. Here the authors show that compared to the current Nationally Distributed Contributions, the proposed self-preservation strategy might generate 126–616 trillion dollars of additional benefits by 2100.

    • Yi-Ming Wei
    • , Rong Han
    • , Ce Wang
    • , Biying Yu
    • , Qiao-Mei Liang
    • , Xiao-Chen Yuan
    • , Junjie Chang
    • , Qingyu Zhao
    • , Hua Liao
    • , Baojun Tang
    • , Jinyue Yan
    • , Lijing Cheng
    •  & Zili Yang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Little is known about decentralized institutions that could facilitate cooperation for the sake of future generations. Here, the authors show that allowing for peer punishment within a generation is only partially successful in facilitating cooperation for the sake of later generations.

    • Johannes Lohse
    •  & Israel Waichman
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Evaluating the heat risk among city dwellers is important. Here, the authors assessed the heat risk in Philippine cities using remote sensing data and social-ecological indicators and found that the cities at high or very high risk are found in Metro Manila, where levels of heat hazard and exposure are high.

    • Ronald C. Estoque
    • , Makoto Ooba
    • , Xerxes T. Seposo
    • , Takuya Togawa
    • , Yasuaki Hijioka
    • , Kiyoshi Takahashi
    •  & Shogo Nakamura
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The exploitation of rivers has been at the detriment of river ecosystems. Here the authors propose a concept of Golden Inland Waterways (GIWs) to represent large waterways and find that the exploitation ratio threshold around the turning point for most GIWs appear to be less than 80%, subject to ecological constraints.

    • Yichu Wang
    • , Xiabin Chen
    • , Alistair G. L. Borthwick
    • , Tianhong Li
    • , Huaihan Liu
    • , Shengfa Yang
    • , Chunmiao Zheng
    • , Jianhua Xu
    •  & Jinren Ni
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The partial effects of saving rate changes on CO2 emissions remain unclear. Here the authors found that the increase in saving rates of China has led to increments of global industrial CO2 emissions by 189 million tonnes (Mt) during 2007-2012, while global CO2 emissions would be reduced by 186 Mt if the saving rates of China decreased by 15 percentage points.

    • Chen Lin
    • , Jianchuan Qi
    • , Sai Liang
    • , Cuiyang Feng
    • , Thomas O. Wiedmann
    • , Yihan Liao
    • , Xuechun Yang
    • , Yumeng Li
    • , Zhifu Mi
    •  & Zhifeng Yang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The authors compared the performance of a range of rural water supply types during drought in Ethiopia. They show that prioritising access to groundwater via multiple improved water sources and technologies, such as hand-pumped and motorised boreholes, supported by monitoring and proactive operation and maintenance increases rural water supply resilience.

    • D. J. MacAllister
    • , A. M. MacDonald
    • , S. Kebede
    • , S. Godfrey
    •  & R. Calow
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Partners who actually reduce global emissions can be penalized under carbon accounting methods based on production or consumption give an idea of responsibility. Here the authors propose a new framework, emission responsibility allotment that penalizes/credits those that increase/decrease global emissions.

    • Erik Dietzenbacher
    • , Ignacio Cazcarro
    •  & Iñaki Arto
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The contributions of industrial parks towards addressing climate change remains unclear. Here, the authors studied the energy infrastructure of 1604 industrial parks in China and found that by decarbonizing energy infrastructure stocks in the industrial parks, the GHG mitigation potential will achieve 8%~16% relative to the GHG emissions in the baseline scenario with positive economic benefits, water savings and air pollutant emission reductions.

    • Yang Guo
    • , Jinping Tian
    •  & Lyujun Chen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    How the Asian monsoon, earth surface processes and human development interact is not well known. Here, a new record of dust storm intensity shows a relationship between the stability of dynasties and dust storm activity for the last ~2200 years, which argues for a strong human control of dust storms in East Asia over this time.

    • Fahu Chen
    • , Shengqian Chen
    • , Xu Zhang
    • , Jianhui Chen
    • , Xin Wang
    • , Evan J. Gowan
    • , Mingrui Qiang
    • , Guanghui Dong
    • , Zongli Wang
    • , Yuecong Li
    • , Qinghai Xu
    • , Yangyang Xu
    • , John P. Smol
    •  & Jianbao Liu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    There are concerns that expansion of marine protected areas could have negative effects on the fishing industry. Here Lynham et al. demonstrate that the expansion of two of the world’s largest protected areas did not have a negative impact on catch rates in the Hawaii longline fishery.

    • John Lynham
    • , Anton Nikolaev
    • , Jennifer Raynor
    • , Thaís Vilela
    •  & Juan Carlos Villaseñor-Derbez
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Decoupling emission reduction target determination, air pollution modelling, and health benefit estimation complicates control strategy design. Here an integrated approach identifies strategies to reduce health damages of air pollution, showing that benefits can be achieved cost-effectively by electrifying sources with high primary PM2.5 emission intensities.

    • Yang Ou
    • , J. Jason West
    • , Steven J. Smith
    • , Christopher G. Nolte
    •  & Daniel H. Loughlin
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The carbon footprints of natural gas supplies at the field level are unclear. Here the authors analysed the GHG intensities of gas supplies from 104 fields and show that their GHG intensities range from 6.2 to 43.3 g CO2eq MJ-1.

    • Yu Gan
    • , Hassan M. El-Houjeiri
    • , Alhassan Badahdah
    • , Zifeng Lu
    • , Hao Cai
    • , Steven Przesmitzki
    •  & Michael Wang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The degree of flooding in a particular location depends sensitively on local topography and bathymetry. Here the authors used the remarkability of flood events to estimate county-specific flood thresholds for shoreline counties along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States and found that several areas experience noticeable flooding at a height lower than existing thresholds.

    • Frances C. Moore
    •  & Nick Obradovich
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The impact on inadequate water quality on water scarcity is unclear. Here the authors quantify China’s present-day water scarcity and show that inadequate water quality exacerbates China’s water scarcity, which is unevenly distributed across the country.

    • Ting Ma
    • , Siao Sun
    • , Guangtao Fu
    • , Jim W. Hall
    • , Yong Ni
    • , Lihuan He
    • , Jiawei Yi
    • , Na Zhao
    • , Yunyan Du
    • , Tao Pei
    • , Weiming Cheng
    • , Ci Song
    • , Chuanglin Fang
    •  & Chenghu Zhou
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs) is a crucial scenario describing the potential of future socio-economic development. The authors here investigate long-term effects of various government policies suggested by different SSPs on urban land and reveal the impact of future urban expansion on other land and food production.

    • Guangzhao Chen
    • , Xia Li
    • , Xiaoping Liu
    • , Yimin Chen
    • , Xun Liang
    • , Jiye Leng
    • , Xiaocong Xu
    • , Weilin Liao
    • , Yue’an Qiu
    • , Qianlian Wu
    •  & Kangning Huang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Relative economic benefits of achieving temperature targets have not properly accounted for damages at higher temperatures. Here the authors integrate dynamic cost-benefit analysis with a damage-cost curve and show that the Paris Climate Agreement constitutes the economically optimal policy pathway for the future.

    • Nicole Glanemann
    • , Sven N. Willner
    •  & Anders Levermann
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It is important to gain a better understanding on the contributing factors fostering climate action in developing countries. Here, the authors investigate the attention levels paid to this issue in the planning and implementation stages of climate policies in Mexico during 1994-2018, and find that international negotiations and executive governmental plans are strong drivers of the climate policy discourse in Mexico and likely to be so for developing countries more generally.

    • Arturo Balderas Torres
    • , Priscila Lazaro Vargas
    •  & Jouni Paavola
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Exploring the heterogeneity in impacts and outcomes of using solar geoengineering to counteract global warming is important. Here the authors found that solar geoengineering that reduces temperature below present-day would grow GDP by accelerating economic development in tropics, but projections for global GDP-per-capita by the end of the century are highly dispersed and model dependent.

    • Anthony R. Harding
    • , Katharine Ricke
    • , Daniel Heyen
    • , Douglas G. MacMartin
    •  & Juan Moreno-Cruz
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Activities in cities are important drivers of global carbon fluxes. Here the authors trace the carbon metabolism in 16 global cities in terms of both physical and virtual carbon inflows, stock changes and outflows in relation to the supply chains of urban production and consumption and show that the total carbon impacts of global cities are found to be highly varied in either per capita, intensity or density measures.

    • Shaoqing Chen
    • , Bin Chen
    • , Kuishuang Feng
    • , Zhu Liu
    • , Neil Fromer
    • , Xianchun Tan
    • , Ahmed Alsaedi
    • , Tasawar Hayat
    • , Helga Weisz
    • , Hans Joachim Schellnhuber
    •  & Klaus Hubacek
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Air pollution can affect people’s emotional status and well-being. Here, the authors simulate fixed-scene images to show that under the atmospheric conditions in Beijing, negative emotions occur when air quality index of PM2.5 increases to approximately 150.

    • Yuan Li
    • , Dabo Guan
    • , Yanni Yu
    • , Stephen Westland
    • , Daoping Wang
    • , Jing Meng
    • , Xuejun Wang
    • , Kebin He
    •  & Shu Tao
  • Article
    | Open Access

    High-temperature solid oxide electrolysis cells are a promising technology for energy conversion, but higher current density is needed to increase efficiency. Here the authors design nanocomposite electrodes to improve electronic and ionic conductivity to achieve a high current density.

    • Hiroyuki Shimada
    • , Toshiaki Yamaguchi
    • , Haruo Kishimoto
    • , Hirofumi Sumi
    • , Yuki Yamaguchi
    • , Katsuhiro Nomura
    •  & Yoshinobu Fujishiro
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Resource impacts from the electrification of transport sector in terms of heavy-duty vehicles are understudied. Here the authors find that a mass deployment of plug-in electric vehicles in the heavy-duty segment at the global level can substantially increase the lithium demand.

    • Han Hao
    • , Yong Geng
    • , James E. Tate
    • , Feiqi Liu
    • , Kangda Chen
    • , Xin Sun
    • , Zongwei Liu
    •  & Fuquan Zhao
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Greenhouse gas mitigation can involve land-use changes that alter the habitat available for wildlife. Here, Ohashi et al. perform an integrated assessment showing that climate mitigation can be beneficial for global biodiversity but may entail local biodiversity losses where land-based mitigation is implemented.

    • Haruka Ohashi
    • , Tomoko Hasegawa
    • , Akiko Hirata
    • , Shinichiro Fujimori
    • , Kiyoshi Takahashi
    • , Ikutaro Tsuyama
    • , Katsuhiro Nakao
    • , Yuji Kominami
    • , Nobuyuki Tanaka
    • , Yasuaki Hijioka
    •  & Tetsuya Matsui
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Fish consumption is considered to be the only significant dietary source of MeHg. Here the authors show that rice could also be a significant global dietary source, especially in South and Southeast Asia. International rice trade and joint ingestion of fish and rice could aggravate the MeHg exposure levels in many areas.

    • Maodian Liu
    • , Qianru Zhang
    • , Menghan Cheng
    • , Yipeng He
    • , Long Chen
    • , Haoran Zhang
    • , Hanlin Cao
    • , Huizhong Shen
    • , Wei Zhang
    • , Shu Tao
    •  & Xuejun Wang
  • Perspective
    | Open Access

    Parks have a previously unquantified economic value attributable to mental health, a health services value. Here, the authors proposed three methods to estimate this, and applied one of these methods to show that this value is at least US$6 trillion per annum worldwide.

    • Ralf Buckley
    • , Paula Brough
    • , Leah Hague
    • , Alienor Chauvenet
    • , Chris Fleming
    • , Elisha Roche
    • , Ernesta Sofija
    •  & Neil Harris
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Improving residential building energy consumption (RBEC) efficiency is important. The authors here test whether the measure truly reflects efficiency, and found that RBEC per square meter decreases with the increase of the building area per household, indicating the dilution effect.

    • Jingxin Gao
    • , Xiaoyang Zhong
    • , Weiguang Cai
    • , Hong Ren
    • , Tengfei Huo
    • , Xia Wang
    •  & Zhifu Mi
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Carbon dioxide emissions and air pollution are often assessed on a national or regional level, but little is known about the role of trade structures. Here, a combination of models shows that trade restrictions can lead to massive reduction of gross domestic product in most countries, but also to a reduction of emissions and pollution.

    • Jintai Lin
    • , Mingxi Du
    • , Lulu Chen
    • , Kuishuang Feng
    • , Yu Liu
    • , Randall V. Martin
    • , Jingxu Wang
    • , Ruijing Ni
    • , Yu Zhao
    • , Hao Kong
    • , Hongjian Weng
    • , Mengyao Liu
    • , Aaron van Donkelaar
    • , Qiuyu Liu
    •  & Klaus Hubacek
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Computable General Equilibrium models can hardly decouple economic growth and energy consumption while energy system models can hardly predict macroeconomic implications of energy system changes. Here the authors investigated the macroeconomic implications of consistently dealing with energy systems and the stability of further power generation and show that GDP losses were significantly lower than those in the conventional economic model by more than 50% in 2050, while industry and service sector energy consumption are the main factors causing these differences.

    • Shinichiro Fujimori
    • , Ken Oshiro
    • , Hiroto Shiraki
    •  & Tomoko Hasegawa
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The plant-by-plant retirement needs are not well-understood yet to achieve the rapid transition away from coal use. Here the authors found that operational lifetimes of existing units must be reduced to approximately 35 years to keep warming well below 2 °C or 20 years for 1.5 °C, even if no new capacity comes online.

    • Ryna Yiyun Cui
    • , Nathan Hultman
    • , Morgan R. Edwards
    • , Linlang He
    • , Arijit Sen
    • , Kavita Surana
    • , Haewon McJeon
    • , Gokul Iyer
    • , Pralit Patel
    • , Sha Yu
    • , Ted Nace
    •  & Christine Shearer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Minimum mortality temperature (MMT) changes geographically and over time. Here, by analysing MMTs in 420 global locations during 1984-2018, the authors found that MMT is very close to the local most frequent temperature (MFT) in the same period, and the association between MFT and MMT is not changed when adjusted for lattitude and study year.

    • Qian Yin
    • , Jinfeng Wang
    • , Zhoupeng Ren
    • , Jie Li
    •  & Yuming Guo
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It is not clear which are the most effective mechanisms to achieve sustainable lifestyle behaviour. Here the authors study the impact of behavioural interventions excluding economic incentives by performing a large-scale meta-analysis and find that these interventions promote sustainable behaviours to a small degree in the short-term with no evidence of sustained positive effects once the intervention is completed.

    • Claudia F. Nisa
    • , Jocelyn J. Bélanger
    • , Birga M. Schumpe
    •  & Daiane G. Faller
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Considering air pollution-induced health risks from a consumption perspective is important. Here the authors evaluated the premature deaths resulting from household consumption across 30 Chinese provinces and find that rural households can cause a similar number of pollution-induced deaths as urban households despite a larger and wealthier urban population, due to the combustion of solid fuel.

    • Hongyan Zhao
    • , Guannan Geng
    • , Qiang Zhang
    • , Steven J. Davis
    • , Xin Li
    • , Yang Liu
    • , Liqun Peng
    • , Meng Li
    • , Bo Zheng
    • , Hong Huo
    • , Lin Zhang
    • , Daven K. Henze
    • , Zhifu Mi
    • , Zhu Liu
    • , Dabo Guan
    •  & Kebin He
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Irrigation buffers crop yields from extreme weather, but comes at environmental costs. Here the authors show that in India irrigation has improved wheat yield and reduced its sensitivity to heat, yet further increases are unlikely to offset the impact of warming.

    • Esha Zaveri
    •  & David B. Lobell
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It is unclear what opportunities for policy evaluation can be created by various independent Emission Trading Scheme (ETS). Here the authors presented the firm-level evidence of policy effects directly from emissions trading and differential program designs in China and find that China’s pilots largely induced low-carbon innovation of ETS firms without crowding out other technology innovation.

    • Junming Zhu
    • , Yichun Fan
    • , Xinghua Deng
    •  & Lan Xue
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Residential solid fuel use constitutes a large amount of air pollution but has been gradually replaced by other cleaner energy during the past three decades. Here the authors investigated the contribution of rural residential sector to ambient PM2.5 pollution and the resulting climate forcing and health impacts, and find that the remaining large quantities of solid fuels used in rural households are still a major contributor to ambient air pollution despite of decrease in its pollutant emissions and relative contribution to PM2.5 due to the clean energy transition.

    • Guofeng Shen
    • , Muye Ru
    • , Wei Du
    • , Xi Zhu
    • , Qirui Zhong
    • , Yilin Chen
    • , Huizhong Shen
    • , Xiao Yun
    • , Wenjun Meng
    • , Junfeng Liu
    • , Hefa Cheng
    • , Jianying Hu
    • , Dabo Guan
    •  & Shu Tao
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The empirical consequences of human explorative strategies are not fully understood. Here the authors find that during undisturbed conditions, more-explorative vessels gained no performance advantage while during a major disturbance event, explorers benefited significantly from less-impacted revenues and were also more likely to continue fishing.

    • Shay O’Farrell
    • , James N. Sanchirico
    • , Orr Spiegel
    • , Maxime Depalle
    • , Alan C. Haynie
    • , Steven A. Murawski
    • , Larry Perruso
    •  & Andrew Strelcheck
  • Article
    | Open Access

    To trace the sources of Black Carbon being transported into the Tibetan Plateau is crucial for guiding an effective mitigation strategy. Here the authors utilized the adjoint of the Goddard Earth Observing System-Chem model and find that international trade aggravates the BC pollution over the HTP glacier regions and may cause significant climate change.

    • Kan Yi
    • , Jing Meng
    • , Haozhe Yang
    • , Cenlin He
    • , Daven K. Henze
    • , Junfeng Liu
    • , Dabo Guan
    • , Zhu Liu
    • , Lin Zhang
    • , Xi Zhu
    • , Yanli Cheng
    •  & Shu Tao
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The increase in needs for agricultural commodities is projected to outpace the growth of farmland production globally, leading to high pressure on farming systems in the next decades. Here, the authors investigate the future impact of cropland expansion and intensification on agricultural markets and biodiversity, and suggest the need for balancing agricultural production with conservation goals.

    • Florian Zabel
    • , Ruth Delzeit
    • , Julia M. Schneider
    • , Ralf Seppelt
    • , Wolfram Mauser
    •  & Tomáš Václavík
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Future energy demand maybe induced by climate change and subject to uncertainties arising from different extent of climate change and socioeconomic development. Here the authors follow a top-down approach and combined the recently developed socio-economic and climate scenarios and found that across 210 scenarios, moderate warming increases global climate-exposed energy demand before adaptation by 25–58% between 2010 and 2050.

    • Bas J. van Ruijven
    • , Enrica De Cian
    •  & Ian Sue Wing