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Pathways toward Zero-Carbon Electricity Required for Climate Stabilization


  • Audoly, Richard
  • Vogt-Schilb, Adrien
  • Guivarch, Céline
  • Pfeiffer, Alexander


This paper covers three policy-relevant aspects of the carbon content of elec-tricity that are well established among integrated assessment models but under-discussed in the policy debate. First, climate stabilization at any level from 2 • C to 3 • C requires electricity to be almost carbon-free by the end of the century. As such, the question for policy makers is not whether to decarbonize electricity but when to do it. Second, decarbonization of electricity is still possible and required if some of the key zero-carbon technologies — such as nuclear power or carbon capture and storage — turn out to be unavailable. Third, progres-sive decarbonization of electricity is part of every country's cost-effective means of contributing to climate stabilization. In addition, this paper provides cost-effective pathways of the carbon content of electricity — computed from the results of AMPERE, a recent integrated assessment model comparison study. These pathways may be used to benchmark existing decarbonization targets, such as those set by the European Energy Roadmap or the Clean Power Plan in the United States, or inform new policies in other countries. These pathways can also be used to assess the desirable uptake rates of electrification technolo-gies, such as electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, electric stoves and heat pumps, or industrial electric furnaces.
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  • Audoly, Richard & Vogt-Schilb, Adrien & Guivarch, Céline & Pfeiffer, Alexander, 2017. "Pathways toward Zero-Carbon Electricity Required for Climate Stabilization," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 8498, Inter-American Development Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:idb:brikps:8498

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Mauleón, Ignacio, 2019. "Optimizing individual renewable energies roadmaps: Criteria, methods, and end targets," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 253(C), pages 1-1.
    2. Algunaibet, Ibrahim M. & Pozo, Carlos & Galán-Martín, Ángel & Guillén-Gosálbez, Gonzalo, 2019. "Quantifying the cost of leaving the Paris Agreement via the integration of life cycle assessment, energy systems modeling and monetization," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 242(C), pages 588-601.
    3. Vogt-Schilb, Adrien & Meunier, Guy & Hallegatte, Stéphane, 2018. "When starting with the most expensive option makes sense: Optimal timing, cost and sectoral allocation of abatement investment," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 210-233.
    4. Fortes, Patrícia & Simoes, Sofia G. & Gouveia, João Pedro & Seixas, Júlia, 2019. "Electricity, the silver bullet for the deep decarbonisation of the energy system? Cost-effectiveness analysis for Portugal," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 237(C), pages 292-303.
    5. World Bank Group, 2018. "Strategic Use of Climate Finance to Maximize Climate Action," World Bank Other Operational Studies 30475, The World Bank.
    6. Yue, Hui & Worrell, Ernst & Crijns-Graus, Wina, 2018. "Modeling the multiple benefits of electricity savings for emissions reduction on power grid level: A case study of China’s chemical industry," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 230(C), pages 1603-1632.
    7. Renaud Coulomb & Oskar Lecuyer & Adrien Vogt-Schilb, 2019. "Optimal Transition from Coal to Gas and Renewable Power Under Capacity Constraints and Adjustment Costs," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 73(2), pages 557-590, June.

    More about this item


    environmental policy; climate change;

    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics

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