Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 2 - CARBON CAP (Carbon emission mitigation by Consumption-based Accounting and Policy)

Project Context and Objectives:
Climate policies are formulated on national or regional level and differ in stringency and approach reflecting differences in economic development, political culture and will. They further mainly focus on production sectors. Yet growing consumption is a main driver behind rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Further, our economy is increasingly a single, global economy: international trade has risen threefold since 1990. Current climate policies are mainly shaped via territorial emission reduction methods with approaches from a consumption oriented perspective have added value:
1. Consumption-and trade oriented policies can explicitly address issues like carbon leakage and for instance identify situations where an apparent reduction of GHG emissions in a country is mainly the result of structural change in which carbon –intensive industries were relocated abroad.
2. Such policies are more directly addressing consumption as a driver for rising GHG emissions.

Complementing existing policies and initiatives (e.g. Energy 2020, Kyoto Protocol, Energy Roadmap 2050), consumption–based carbon emission accounts (CBCA) and consumption-based and trade related climate policy (CBTP) offer a possibility to address and partially mitigate the effect of differences in national climate policies. They can do so by taking into account GHG emissions during the entire life cycle of consumed products and services, aiming to reduce those.

The life-cycle perspective has already been adopted widely at the micro-level, and has shaped policies at that level significantly. Mitigation policies that include complementary consumption and trade components thus bear the promise of providing more balanced cost-effective and efficient solutions compared to a focus on production alone. It may also be possible to identify and stimulate low-impact consumption patterns with no lower or even higher quality life, both in developed and emerging economies.

The project has the following overall objectives:
1. To stimulate innovative European and international climate policies and services due to improved shared knowledge base on consumption emissions.
2. To realize a more effective policy mix for achieving the objectives of the EU Climate and Energy package and the Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon-economy in 2050.

The potential to complement current domestic GHG reduction efforts with policies that address consumption patterns is clear. However, developing a new, more balanced mix of policies will require overcoming various important gaps and hurdles.

The following gaps will be addressed:
• Gap 1: Quantification of global emissions related to consumption of goods and services and understanding drivers for upward trends.
• Gap 2: Understanding of levers, potential mechanisms, and feasibility of demand side tools and polices.
Gap 3: Understanding of the effectiveness and impacts of demand side tools and policies.
• Gap 4: No shared view on added value, implementation challenges and acceptability of demand side tools/policies and related accounts, and no ‘roadmap’ of evolution from production towards consumption-based policies.

The project is specifically designed to overcome these gaps and convince a critical mass of the climate policy community of the added value of demand side policies and accounts. The plan is to include a well-designed process of interactive learning between the project team and key players in this policy area.

The project has the following specific scientific and technical objectives. It will test and improve available methods and tools to conduct consumption-based accounting. We further will analyse the potential, effectiveness and implementation challenges of demand side (including trade related) tools and polices. Using the improved tools and methods, a selection of simulated design of consumption based polices, and model-based assessment of their efficiency will be carried out. This will be done at the macro-level, but also for specific key sectors. In relation to each gap above we will address the following specific scientific and technical objectives:
• Gap 1: Review and assessment of consumption–based carbon accounts and upward drivers
• Gap 2: Identification and evaluation of demand side tools and policies in relation to desired technical and behavioural improvement options.
• Gap 3: Modelling and assessment of impacts of consumption-based emission reduction pathways at macro-level.
• Gap 4: Creating an implementation roadmap for consumption based accounts and policies endorsed by critical mass of stakeholders via policy-science brokerage activities.

Project Results:
In the second reporting period (1 January 2015 – 31 January 2016) some important steps have been made in the project.

WP2 (Dissemination): This WP has continued to perform a series of science-policy brokerage activities to allow the dissemination of the project’s outputs and receive feedback from developing and developed countries researchers, policy makers, organisations, businesses and industries. The second stakeholder workshop was organised as well as a consultation workshop in Beijing, China. Next to that WP2 organized as series of smaller events and targeted meetings, such as side events at the Bonn UNFCCC Subsidiary Session and the UNFCCC 21st Conference of the Parties in Paris. The first Carbon-CAP Policy brief was produced and circulated at the UNFCCC 21st Conference of the Parties.

WP4 (Review of CBCA systems and analysis of upward drivers): the work is progressing well, providing output to the multi-regional input-output (MRIO) (and broader) community on divergences across consumption based accounting databases. This work has progressed to further understand certain structural elements of the differences, and has started shifting to recommendations for properties of databases in order for them to be suitable for comparative and policy relevant work. A number of papers are in the process of being drafted, both internally within the consortium, but also in collaboration with external experts. Task 4.4 has suffered a delay due to availability of EXIOBASE in constant prices – the work here was designed to take advantage of the latest, most detailed work in the MRIO community, and has thus had some additional workload in terms of waiting for data, and ironing out teething issues in the data.

WP 5 (Analysis of demand side tools and policies): Tasks 5.1 (Scope and Effectiveness for a long list of policy instruments) and 5.2 (Analysis of economic, legal, political and institutional acceptability of policy instruments) are complete, with the analyses performed, the reports filed and Policy Briefings prepared for dissemination. Task 5.3 (Assessment of pick-up rates for intervention options) is moving more slowly because it is tied so strongly to task 6.3 (Screening of economic effects and implementation challenges for consumers and businesses); hence these two WP tasks must be carried out in parallel. The survey instruments for task 5.3 have been developed and will be distributed to survey participants from the three primary sectors selected (Transport, Buildings and Food) in March 2016, which will complete the work for task 5.3.

WP6 (Technical and behavioural demand side options / paths for low-carbon futures): As mentioned in the P1 report, Deliverable 6.1 should have been finalised in 2014, but was delayed. In the aftermath of the Cambridge meeting (October 2014) we have decided to develop D6.1 together with D4.3. We managed to submit a complete draft D4.3 before the end of the year, and a complete draft D6.1 in January 2015. The final version of D6.1 has been submitted in February 2015. Task 6.2 (Prioritizing and screening environmental impacts of improvement options) has started in the early months of 2015 and has been finalised according to schedule. D6.2 has been submitted in November 2015.

WP7 (Impact assessment / Interactive modelling of transformations): This WP started officially in January 2015. However, the partners started with compiling data files and preparing task 7.1 (Harmonising the data in the suite of models) in advance. Discussion on scenarios of task 7.2 (Integrating output of WP4-6 to baseline and policy scenarios and input parameters for the scenario modelling) started at the project meeting in March 2014 and continued in October 2014 and throughout 2015. The baseline scenario has been defined and implemented in all models. The work in WP7 has in 2015 mainly focused on comparing results, while detecting and, to the extent possible, resolving inconsistencies across models.

More concretely, the project has completed the work for the following scientific deliverables (some of which are under review and to be delivered early 2016):
• D4.3 Carbon supply-chain hot-spots (database and report)
• D4.4 Global drivers of change in carbon emissions from a consumption perspective
• D5.1 Structured list of potential demand-side tools and policies, prioritised according to potential scope for carbon mitigation
• D5.2 A report on the political, legal and administrative feasibility of measures
• D6.2 Assessment of environmental potential of options, with tentative hybrid assessments giving insights in macro-level effects
• D7.1 Harmonised database of data used in models (e.g. emission data)

Potential Impact:
Carbon-CAP will deliver:
• Insights in reliability and uncertainty in Consumption based carbon accounting (CBCA)
• Recommendations for an approach for implementation of a robust, reliably system for CBCA
• A recommendation on which demand side policy instruments have most added value in complementing existing territorial mitigation approaches, with their environmental and economic implications tested via three modelling perspectives.

List of Websites:


Singh Rene, (Project controller)
Tel.: +31 8886 64362
Record Number: 189252 / Last updated on: 2016-09-20