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'I get a kick out of teaching' | Lovely interview with Prof. Ton Schoot Uiterkamp
Date:13 January 2022

Retirement? What's that? #5. Interview by UKrant.nl with Honorary Professor Ton Schoot Uiterkamp. Ton is one of various retired UG professors who doesn’t know how to quit. The now seventy-seven-year-old professor of environmentology chairs the Senior Academy Society (SAS), still assesses PhD candidates’ work, and regularly teaches.

A global North-South division line for portraying urban development
Date:23 July 2021

Rapid urbanization has tremendously changed the global landscape with profound impacts on our society. Nighttime light (NTL) data can provide valuable information about human activities and socioeconomic conditions thus has become an effective proxy to measure urban development. By using NTL-derived urban measures from 1992 to 2018, we analyzed the spatiotemporal patterns of global urban development from country to region to city scales, which presented a distinct North-South divergence characterized by the rising and declining patterns. A global North-South division line was identified to partition the globe into the Line-North and the Line-South geographically, which accorded with the socioeconomic difference from the aspects of urban population and economy. This line may keep a certain degree of stability deriving from the trends of population and economic information but also bears uncertainties in the long term.

A new study demonstrates: substitution of petrochemical plastic with bioplastics creates other problems
Date:11 August 2020

A new study “The Unintended Side Effects of Bioplastics: Carbon, Land and Water Footprints” conducted by a multinational team of environmental scientists demonstrate that replacing all petrochemical plastic packaging with bioplastics is not feasible as this would lead to burden-shifting of environmental impacts. The assessment carried out in the study shows that increased use of bioplastics will result in significant growth of land and water use.

Are bioplastics REALLY better for the planet? | Interview with Klaus Hubacek
Date:05 February 2021

Bioplastics are said to be the “better” plastic of the future: biodegradable, eco-friendly and just as convenient. But is that actually true?

We're destroying our environment at an alarming rate. But it doesn't need to be this way. Our new channel Planet A explores the shift towards an eco-friendly world — and challenges our ideas about what dealing with climate change means. We look at the big and the small: What can we do and how the system needs to change. Every Friday we'll take a truly global look at how to get us out of this mess.

A review of hybrid renewable energy systems in mini-grids for off-grid electrification in developing countries
Date:29 April 2021

Rural communities in developing countries lack access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable forms of energy, which are essential factors for improving living conditions. These communities rely on diesel and kerosene, which are highly polluting compared to renewable energy technologies, to satisfy their energy needs. In this study, hybrid renewable energy systems (HRESs) have been analyzed, which are designed to overcome the fluctuating nature of renewables, for off-grid electrification. The results of this study—which covers many countries and examples—show that the successful integration of HRES is influenced by factors such as government support—and community organization — which is essential to keep these systems operating over the project lifetime. The levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of different mini-grids was compared and analyzed. The results reveal that by comparing the LCOE range of diesel (between USD 0.92/kWh and USD 1.30/kWh), solar photovoltaic (USD 0.40/kWh and USD 0.61/kWh), and hybrid solar photovoltaic/diesel (USD 0.54/kWh to USD 0.77/kWh), diesel is the most expensive technology. Additionally, the study addressed barriers that can hinder the implementation of mini-grids, such as lack of supportive policies and high capital cost. However, governments’ incentives are instrumental in lowering capital costs. These results are of particular importance for developing countries, where electricity supply via HRES is often quicker and cheaper than grid extension. The insights from this paper are a good starting point for in-depth research on optimal local design and ownership models, which can help accelerate the implementation, and lower the costs of sustainable electricity supply in remote areas.

Article in Applied Energy: Urban carbon footprints across scale: Important consideration for choosing system boundaries | Klaus Hubacek
Date:10 January 2020

Cities dominate global anthropogenic carbon emissions. Here, we develop an approach to interpret carbon footprints of cities by focusing on their system boundaries, double counting recognition, spatial paths and policy sensitivities. Using four megacities in China as a case study, we quantify and map urban carbon footprints from various accounting perspectives: territorial carbon emissions, community-wide infrastructure carbon footprint, consumption-based carbon footprint, wider production carbon footprint, and full-scope carbon footprint. We find that the megacities’ infrastructure carbon footprints are dominated by electricity-related emissions, whereas their consumption-based carbon footprints are significantly impacted by imports of both electricity and other products and services. Over 55% of the full-scope carbon footprints (sums of all three scopes) of Beijing and Shanghai can be attributed to upstream emissions, while in Chongqing and Tianjin territorial emissions are more important. Key urban infrastructure contributes over 70% to the total carbon emissions in import supply chains, determining the spatial paths and the carbon intensities of imports for these megacities. The main destinations of outsourced carbon emissions across the country from the megacities are found to be similar due to market domination of bulk suppliers of infrastructure-related and other carbon-intensive products. In addition, double counting of certain footprint indicators is considered small in this case, but could be amplified with increasing number of cities being assessed.

Article in Energies: An Exploratory Agent-Based Modeling Analysis Approach to Test Business Models for Electricity Storage | Ahmad Mir Mohammadi Kooshknow
Date:02 April 2020

Electricity storage systems (ESSs) are potential solutions to facilitate renewable energy transition. Lack of viable business models, as well as high levels of uncertainty in technology, economic, and institutional factors, form main barriers for wide implementation of ESSs worldwide and in the Netherlands. Therefore, the design of business models for an ESS is necessary for the development of ESSs. We elaborated on this problem before, and developed a design space for business models of ESSs in the context of the Netherlands. This conceptual paper provides a further view on barriers and uncertainties of ESS development in the Netherlands through the involvement of a business practitioner, elaboration of goals, objectives, and testing of ESS business model designs, suggests and provides a theoretical foundation for combining agent-based modeling and exploratory modeling analysis as a method to test and explore ESS business models, and provides an abstract conceptual agent-based model design thereof. This work can be used as a foundation of detailed design and implementation of models for testing ESS business models in the Netherlands and worldwide.

Article in Energy: How does the interplay between resource availability, intersectoral competition and reliability affect a low-carbon power generation mix in Brazil for 2050?
Date:11 February 2020

Increasing penetration of solar and wind energy can reduce the reliability of power generation systems. This can be mitigated by e.g.; low-carbon dispatchable hydropower and baseload biomass power plants. However, long-term supply potential for those sources is often uncertain, and biomass can also be used for biofuel production. The purpose of this study is to assess the interplay between uncertain supply potential of biomass and hydropower, intersectoral competition and reliability on a low carbon power system for 2050, with Brazil as case study, using a soft-link between an energy model and a power system model. Hydropower acts as a balancing agent for solar and wind energy, even under lower hydropower supply potential. When less biomass is available, low carbon transportation is met more with electric cars instead of ethanol cars, leading to an increase in electric load for charging their batteries. The charging strategy determines whether peak load increases substantially; after commuting, or lowers; in off-peak hours. This shows the importance of using a soft-link between the high temporal resolution power system model to assess the reliability, and a least cost-optimization model to assess the interplay between resource availability and intersectoral competition of low-carbon power systems.

Article in Environmental Science and Technology: Drivers toward a Low-Carbon Electricity System in China’s Provinces | Klaus Hubacek
Date:06 April 2020

Decarbonization of the power sector is one of the most important efforts to meet the climate mitigation targets under the Paris Agreement. China’s power sector is of global importance, accounting for 25% of global electricity production in 2015. The carbon intensity of China’s electricity is still much higher than the global average, but the country has made important strides toward a low-carbon transition based on two main pillars: improvement of energy efficiency and decreasing the share of fossil fuels. By applying a decoupling indicator, our study shows that 21 provinces achieved a “relative decoupling” of carbon emissions and electricity production and the remaining nine provinces achieved “absolute decoupling” between 2005 and 2015. We updated China’s emission factors based on the most recent data by also considering the quality of imported coal and compared our results with the widely used Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change coefficients to show the sensitivity of results and the potential error. Our decomposition analysis shows that improvement of energy efficiency was the dominant driver for decarbonization of 16 provincial power sectors, while the access to low-carbon electricity and substitution of natural gas for coal and oil further accelerated their decarbonization.

Article in Environmental Science and Technology: Tension of agricultural land and water use in China’s trade: Tele-connections, hidden drivers and potential solutions | Klaus Hubacek
Date:23 March 2020

Interregional trade can potentially extend the management of scarce resources beyond a region’s territory along supply chains. Here we combined the multi-regional input-output model with structural decomposition analysis to reveal the distant connections of agricultural land and water use as well as the drivers behind their variations in China. Our results show that trade-embodied agricultural land use increase by 2.3-fold and 2.5-fold for virtual agricultural water use flows from 2002 to 2012. The water-starved northern China with abundant agricultural land is the main exporter of virtual (also called trade-embodied) agricultural land and water. Moreover, the role of the virtual water use importers and exporters were determined by the availability of land, rather than water resources. Based on scenario analysis, we found that if agricultural water use efficiency of north China reached the world’s top-level but agricultural land use efficiency remained unchanged, the virtual water flows would be reduced by 32% and only water resources, not agricultural land, would be able to sustain future economic development. Our findings may provide significant information for potential solutions to China’s regional water shortage from a land-water nexus perspective.

Article in Journal of Cleaner Production: Decomposition and attribution analysis for assessing the progress in decoupling industrial development from wastewater discharges in China | Klaus Hubacek
Date:28 April 2020

China's strategy of greening industrial development aims to decouple industrial growth from industrial wastewater discharges (IWDs). This study combines decoupling analysis, decomposition analysis, and attribution analysis to support the goal. First, the decoupling analysis is employed to explore the decoupling states between industrial growth and IWDs in China, as well as across 30 provinces, from 2000 to 2015. Next, the decomposition analysis focusing on the change in industrial wastewater discharge intensity (IWDI) is performed to reveal the factors influencing the decoupling trends. Then, the attribution analysis is used to attribute the contributions of these factors to different regions. Our decoupling results indicate an increasing decoupling trend between industrial output and IWDs in China in the past 15 years. Meanwhile, there is a witnessed convergence in decoupling degrees among provinces. Decomposition results reveal that the water intensity plays the dominant role in promoting decoupling, while the wastewater discharge coefficient negatively impacts decoupling before 2005 but then exhibits a promotion effect. Regional attribution results indicate provinces in South China have exerted more efforts in both of water saving and wastewater treatment during the study period. Water scarce provinces in North China performs better in the water saving, while more developed and water rich provinces in South China provinces performs better in wastewater treatment. This paper suggests targeted policy methods at province level.

Article in Journal of Cleaner Production: Household carbon and energy inequality in Latin American and Caribbean countries | Klaus Hubacek
Date:08 September 2020

Reducing inequality, eradicating poverty and achieving a carbon-neutral society are recognized as important components of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. In this study, we focus on carbon and energy inequality between and within ten Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries. Detailed carbon and energy footprint were estimated by combining the consumption profiles (2014) in ten LAC countries with environmental extended multi-regional input-output (MRIO) analysis. Our results show significant inequality of regional total and per capita carbon and energy footprint across the studied LAC countries in 2014. The top 10% income category was responsible for 29.1% and 26.3% of the regional total carbon and energy footprint, and their per capita carbon and energy footprint were 12.2 and 7.5 times of the bottom 10% earners in that region. The average carbon footprint of studied LAC countries varied between 0.53 and 2.21 t CO2e/cap (ton of CO2 equivalent, per capita), and the energy footprint ranged from 0.38 to 1.76 t SOE/cap (ton of Standard Oil Equivalent, per capita). The huge difference in total and per capita carbon emissions and energy consumption of different income groups suggests notable differences in climate change responsibility, and supports policies for achieving sustainable consumption in terms of carbon tax, renewable energy subsidy, and decarbonizing the consumption structure in different LAC countries.

Article in Journal of Cleaner Production: Household carbon inequality in the U.S.
Date:02 September 2020

Household carbon emissions are mainly affected by income as well as demographic factors. Understanding the contribution of these factors can inform climate responsibilities and potential demand-side climate mitigation strategies. By linking US consumer expenditure survey data with a nested national within a global multi-regional input-output model, this study estimates consumption-based GHG emissions for 9 income groups and assesses the carbon inequality in the US for 2015. Our results show that the per capita carbon footprint (CF) of the highest income group (>200 thousand USD per year) with 32.3 tons is about 2.6 times the per capita CF of the lowest income group (<15 thousand USD) with 12.3 tons. This is due to large gap in consumption volume and associated carbon emissions along the entire global production chain. Consumption pattern tends to narrow the gap in household per capita CF between income groups due to the lower carbon intensity per dollar spent by higher income groups. Another important factor influencing carbon footprints is household size and thus sharing of household equipment and other consumption items. The US average per capita CF is 18.1 tons compared to the global average of approximately 5 tons. The high carbon footprint across income groups in the US is largely due to the large contribution of emissions from heating and cooling and private transport, which reflects the settlement structure and lifestyles in the US, relying heavily on cars and living in larger houses.

Article in Journal of Cleaner Production: The GHG emissions and economic performance of the Colombian palm oil sector; current status and long-term perspectives | Nidia Ramirez Contreras
Date:16 March 2020

Increasing oil palm plantations, both for obtaining crude palm oil (CPO) and for the production of biobased products, have generated growing concern about the impact of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on the environment. Colombia has the potential to produce sustainable biobased products from oil palm. Nevertheless, national GHG emissions have not yet been reported by this sector. Achieving the collection of the total primary data from the oil palm sector, in Colombia, entails a tremendous challenge. Notwithstanding, for this study, the data collection of 70% of the production of fresh fruit bunches (FFB) was achieved. Therefore, current situation of CPO production in Colombia is analyzed, including 1) GHG emissions calculation, 2) net energy ratio (NER), and 3) economic performance. Moreover, the analysis includes two future scenarios, where the CPO production chain is optimized to reduce GHG emissions. Future scenario A produces biodiesel (BD), biogas, cogeneration, and compost; while future scenario B produces BD, biogas, cogeneration, and pellets. The methodology, for all the scenarios, includes life-cycle assessment and economic analysis evaluation. The results show a significant potential for improving the current palm oil production, including a 55% reduction in GHG emissions. The impact of land-use change must be mitigated to reduce GHG emissions. Therefore, a sustainable oil palm expansion should be in areas with low carbon stock or areas suitable/available to the crop (e.g., cropland, pastureland). Avoiding the deforestation of natural forests is required. Besides, crop yield should be increased to minimize the land use, using biomass to produce biobased products, and capture biogas to reduce methane emissions. In the biodiesel production life-cycle, the NER analysis shows the fossil energy consumed is lower than the renewable energy produced. Regarding the economic performance, it shows that in an optimized production chain, the capital expenditure and operational expenditure will decrease by approximately 20%.

Article in Nature Climate Change: Impacts of COVID-19 and fiscal stimuli on global emissions and the Paris Agreement | Yuli Shan and Klaus Hubacek
Date:23 December 2020

The global economy is facing a serious recession due to COVID-19, with implications for CO2 emissions. Here, using a global adaptive multiregional input–output model and scenarios of lockdown and fiscal counter measures, we show that global emissions from economic sectors will decrease by 3.9 to 5.6% in 5 years (2020 to 2024) compared with a no-pandemic baseline scenario (business as usual for economic growth and carbon intensity decline). Global economic interdependency via supply chains means that blocking one country’s economic activities causes the emissions of other countries to decrease even without lockdown policies. Supply-chain effects contributed 90.1% of emissions decline from power production in 2020 but only 13.6% of transport sector reductions. Simulations of follow-up fiscal stimuli in 41 major countries increase global 5-yr emissions by −6.6 to 23.2 Gt (−4.7 to 16.4%), depending on the strength and structure of incentives. Therefore, smart policy is needed to turn pandemic-related emission declines into firm climate action.

Article in Nature Climate Change: Temporary reduction in daily global CO2 emissions during the COVID-19 forced confinement | Yuli Shan
Date:03 June 2020

Temporary reduction in daily global CO2 emissions during the COVID-19 forced confinement. Government policies during the COVID-19 pandemic have drastically altered patterns of energy demand around the world. Many international borders were closed and populations were confined to their homes, which reduced transport and changed consumption patterns. Here we compile government policies and activity data to estimate the decrease in CO2 emissions during forced confinements. Daily global CO2 emissions decreased by –17% (–11 to –25% for ±1σ) by early April 2020 compared with the mean 2019 levels, just under half from changes in surface transport. At their peak, emissions in individual countries decreased by –26% on average. The impact on 2020 annual emissions depends on the duration of the confinement, with a low estimate of –4% (–2 to –7%) if prepandemic conditions return by mid-June, and a high estimate of –7% (–3 to –13%) if some restrictions remain worldwide until the end of 2020. Government actions and economic incentives postcrisis will likely influence the global CO2 emissions path for decades.

Article in Nature communications: Physical and virtual carbon metabolism of global cities | Klaus Hubacek
Date:10 January 2020

Urban activities have profound and lasting effects on the global carbon balance. Here we develop a consistent metabolic approach that combines two complementary carbon accounts, the physical carbon balance and the fossil fuel-derived gaseous carbon footprint, to track carbon coming into, being added to urban stocks, and eventually leaving the city. We find that over 88% of the physical carbon in 16 global cities is imported from outside their urban boundaries, and this outsourcing of carbon is notably amplified by virtual emissions from upstream activities that contribute 33–68% to their total carbon inflows. While 13–33% of the carbon appropriated by cities is immediately combusted and released as CO2, between 8 and 24% is stored in durable household goods or becomes part of other urban stocks. Inventorying carbon consumed and stored for urban metabolism should be given more credit for the role it can play in stabilizing future global climate.

Article in Nature Food: Sharing tableware reduces waste generation, emissions and water consumption in China’s takeaway packaging waste dilemma | Yuli Shan
Date:16 September 2020

China has a rapidly growing online food delivery and takeaway market, serving 406 million customers with 10.0 billion orders and generating 323 kilotonnes of tableware and packaging waste in 2018. Here we use a top-down approach with city-level takeaway order data to explore the packaging waste and life-cycle environmental impacts of the takeaway industry in China. The ten most wasteful cities, with just 7% of the population, in terms of per capita waste generation, were responsible for 30% of the country’s takeaway waste, 27–34% of the country’s pollutant emissions and 30% of the country’s water consumption. We defined one paper substitution and two sharing tableware scenarios to simulate the environmental mitigation potentials. The results of the scenario simulations show that sharing tableware could reduce waste generation by up to 92%, and environmental emissions and water consumption by more than two-thirds. Such a mechanism provides a potential solution to address the food packaging waste dilemma and a new strategy for promoting sustainable and zero-waste lifestyles.

Article in Nature Sustainability: Cash transfers for pro-poor carbon taxes in Latin America and the Caribbean | Klaus Hubacek
Date:07 October 2019

Carbon taxes are advocated as efficient fiscal and environmental policy tools, but they have proven difficult to implement. One reason is that carbon taxes can aggravate poverty by increasing prices of basic goods and services such as food, heating and commuting. Meanwhile, cash transfer programmes have been established as some of the most efficient poverty-reducing policies used in developing countries. We quantify how governments could mitigate negative social consequences of carbon taxes by expanding the beneficiary base or the amounts disbursed with existing cash transfer programmes. We focus on Latin America and the Caribbean, a region that has pioneered cash transfer programmes, aspires to contribute to climate mitigation and faces inequality. We find that 30% of carbon revenues could suffice to compensate poor and vulnerable households on average, leaving 70% to fund other political priorities. We also quantify trade-offs for governments choosing who and how much to compensate.

Article in Nature Sustainability: Economic development and converging household carbon footprints in China | Klaus Hubacek
Date:30 March 2020

There are substantial differences in carbon footprints across households. This study applied an environmentally extended multiregional input–output approach to estimate household carbon footprints for 12 different income groups of China’s 30 regions. Subsequently, carbon footprint Gini coefficients were calculated to measure carbon inequality for households across provinces. We found that the top 5% of income earners were responsible for 17% of the national household carbon footprint in 2012, while the bottom half of income earners caused only 25%. Carbon inequality declined with economic growth in China across space and time in two ways: first, carbon footprints showed greater convergence in the wealthier coastal regions than in the poorer inland regions; second, China’s national carbon footprint Gini coefficients declined from 0.44 in 2007 to 0.37 in 2012. We argue that economic growth not only increases income levels but also contributes to an overall reduction in carbon inequality in China.

Article in Science of The Total Environment: Decline of net SO2 emission intensity in China's thermal power generation: Decomposition and attribution analysis | Klaus Hubacek
Date:16 March 2020

Thermal power generation is the main electricity source of China, but also contributes the largest share of air pollutants in the country. Because of China's considerable efforts in pollution control, one measure of the most important source of air pollution net SO2 emission intensity (NSEI) of thermal power generation has dropped significantly since 2006. Understanding the reasons behind the decline could help further explore the solution-space for deeper mitigation targets. This study combines multiplicative LMDI with attribution analysis to decompose the decline in national NSEI into four factors (i.e. SO2 treatment or end-of-pipe approaches; SO2 emission factor of coal and coal intensity, which both account for cleaner production measures; and geographical structure effects) for 30 regions. Our results show that end-of-pipe technologies remained the primary way to control air pollution in China. In addition, cleaner production efforts contributed to SO2 mitigation. Attribution results at the province level show that northern provinces increased their efforts in SO2 treatment and reducing coal intensity, while southern provinces have done more on reducing the SO2 intensity of coal. Provinces were classified into four categories (i.e. leading regions, end-of-pipe dependent regions, process-dependent regions and lagging regions) according to their performance in terms of end-of-pipe treatment and cleaner production, to help them choose targeted policy methods.

Article in Scientific Data: Chine CO2 emissions accounts 2016-2017 | Yuli Shan and Klaus Hubacek
Date:13 February 2020

China’s economic development, energy consumption and associated emissions have entered a “new normal” stage1 afer a period of rapid development. Economic growth has slowed slightly in recent few years, while more attention has been paid to the optimization and upgrade of economic structures and drivers. Even though China’s emissions have plateaued in 2013 ref. 2 , it is still the world’s leading energy consumer and CO2 emitter, accounting for approximately 30% of global emissions3 . Afer the United States withdrew from the Paris Agreement, China is playing an increasingly important role in global climate change mitigation and emission reduction and has set a series of reduction targets, such as peaking its emissions by 2030 ref. 4 and reducing emission intensity by 60%–65% compared with 2005 ref. 5 . A series of policies, such as those targeting energy structure optimization and renewable energy development, have been implemented and achieved signifcant results6 . Renewable and sustainable energy consumption (i.e. primary electricity from hydro power and solar) as well as energy from nuclear power have rapidly increased from 109 million tonnes of standard coal equivalent (tce) (or 3.7% of the total energy consumption) in 2007 to 295 million tce (or 7.1%) in 2017.

Article in Scientific Data: Japan prefectural emission accounts and socioeconomic data 2007 to 2015
Date:13 July 2020

In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan largely moved away from nuclear power generation and turned back towards an energy sector dominated by fossil fuels. As a result, the pace towards reaching emission reduction targets has largely slowed down. This situation indicates that higher emissions will continue to be generated if there is no appropriate and efficient measurement implemented to bridge the energy demand gap. To contribute adequate mitigation policies, a detailed inventory of both CO2 emissions and socioeconomic factors, both at the national and regional level, should be issued. Thereby, this work contributes to a time-series emission with a record of 47 prefectures in Japan as well as their associated socioeconomic features. The compiled emission inventory is based on three major fossil fuels and 26 sectors with careful emission allocations for regional electricity generation. This dataset is uniformly formatted and can be expected to provide vital information to set regional reduction allowances and sectoral reduction priorities.

Article in Sustainability: Mapping the Dutch Energy Transition Hyperlink Network | Nuccio Ludovico and Franco Ruzzenenti
Date:17 September 2020

The Internet facilitates connections between a range of Dutch actors with a stake in the energy transition, including governments, environmental organizations, media outlets and corporations. These connections tease a hyperlink network affecting public access to information on energy transition issues. Despite its societal relevance, however, the characteristics of this network remain understudied. The main goals of this study are to shed some light on the topological characteristics of the Dutch energy transition hyperlink network and reveal the main topics discussed in the network. To do so, we longitudinally collected data from the interactions between key Dutch actors with a stake in the energy transition. Then, these data were analyzed by employing a mixed-method approach, social network analysis and topic modeling. The results of the social network analyses reveal the existence of a sparse network in which few private companies and associations emerge as the most authoritative actors and brokers. Furthermore, our analyses show substantial differences among the communication agendas of the organizations of the Dutch energy transition hyperlink network; while public institutions focus on global, national and local policy issues, private companies, associations and NGOs pay much more attention to employment issues.

Article in the Royal Society: Low-carbon development via greening global value chains: a case study of Belarus
Date:29 July 2020

The rise of global value chains (GCVs) has seen the transfer of carbon emissions embodied in every step of international trade. Building a coordinated, inclusive and green GCV can be an effective and efficient way to achieve carbon emissions mitigation targets for countries that participate highly in GCVs. In this paper, we first describe the energy consumption as well as the territorial and consumption-based carbon emissions of Belarus and its regions from 2010 to 2017. The results show that Belarus has a relatively clean energy structure with 75% of Belarus' energy consumption coming from imported natural gas. The ‘chemical, rubber and plastic products' sector has expanded significantly over the past few years; its territorial-based emissions increased 10-fold from 2011 to 2014, with the ‘food processing' sector displaying the largest increase in consumption-based emissions. An analysis of regional emissions accounts shows that there is significant regional heterogeneity in Belarus with Mogilev, Gomel and Vitebsk having more energy-intensive manufacturing industries. We then analysed the changes in Belarus' international trade as well as its emission impacts. The results show that Belarus has changed from a net carbon exporter in 2011 to a net carbon importer in 2014. Countries along the Belt and Road Initiative, such as Russia, China, Ukraine, Poland and Kazakhstan, are the main trading partners and carbon emission importers/exporters for Belarus. ‘Construction’ and ‘chemical, rubber and plastic products' are two major emission-importing sectors in Belarus, while ‘electricity' and ‘ferrous metals' are the primary emission-exporting sectors. Possible low-carbon development pathways are discussed for Belarus through the perspectives of global supply and the value chain.

Chinese cities exhibit varying degrees of decoupling of economic growth and CO2 emissions between 2005 and 2015
Date:12 January 2021

Cities, contributing more than 75% of global carbon emissions, are at the heart of climate change mitigation. Given cities’ heterogeneity, they need specific low-carbon roadmaps instead of one-size-fits-all approaches. Here, we present the most detailed and up to date CO2 emission accounts for 294 cities in China and examine the extent to which their economic growth was decoupled from emissions. Results show that from 2005 to 2015, only 11% of cities exhibited strong decoupling; whereas 65.6% showed weak decoupling and 23.4% no decoupling. We attribute the economic-emission decoupling in cities to several socioeconomic factors (i.e., structure and size of the economy, emission intensity, and population size) and find that the decline in emission intensity via improvement in production and carbon efficiency (e.g., decarbonizing the energy mix via building a renewable energy system) is the most important one. The experience and status quo of carbon emissions and emission-GDP decoupling in Chinese cities may have implications for other developing economies to design carbon-decoupled development pathways.

Climate change, the coronavirus, and the economy | Klaus Hubacek
Date:25 May 2020

Climate change caused by carbon emissions is the leading global environmental problem today. Mitigating carbon emissions and adapting to climate change requires the integration of different types of approaches to support the transformation of society towards sustainability.

Countermeasures against economic crisis from COVID-19 pandemic in China: An analysis of effectiveness and trade-offs
Date:14 October 2021

The effectiveness of different countermeasures to economic crisis from the public health emergency is still inadequately understood. We establish an illustrative scenario, specifying the shocks of COVID-19 pandemic and countermeasures applying a general equilibrium model to analyze the effectiveness of countermeasures with a particular focus on trade-offs in the impacts of monetary and fiscal policies. We find that both monetary and fiscal countermeasures could effectively mitigate the economic damages to GDP and employment. However, they would also produce adverse side-effects such as an increase in consumer price by 1.05% and 0.57%, respectively, and a decline in exports by 2.61% and 1.05%, respectively. Monetary policies would exacerbate the damages to external demand by supply-side shocks of the pandemic, but they are more suitable for mitigating demand-side shocks. While fiscal policies would benefit nearly all producing sectors, monetary policies would mainly affect export-oriented manufacturing sectors negatively.

Cum laude for PhD student Herib Blanco Reaño
Date:09 January 2020

On Friday, December 20 2019, Herib Blanco Reaño successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled Hydrogen potential in the future EU energy system. A multi-sectoral, multi-model approach. He received his doctorate degree 'cum laude'. A big congratulations on behalf of all IVEM colleagues. Herib conducted his research at the Center for Energy and Environmental Sciences - IVEM of the University of Groningen, the Joint Research Center, part of the European Commission, in Petten and at the International Energy Agenda in Paris, France.

De dilemma's van groene groenten
Date:29 June 2021

Hoeveel water gebruikt een tomaat, door wie worden sperziebonen geteeld en wat kost het om die avocado naar Nederland te laten vliegen: relevante vragen voor wie duurzaam groenten wil kopen. Maar: “Duurzaamheid is niet één kenmerk waar een product op scoort. Daarvoor is het begrip te breed. Als je kiest voor een aspect, lever je het andere juist weer in”, legt universitair hoofddocent Sanderine Nonhebel uit. Een overzicht van de duurzame feiten.

Dr. Yuli Shan (IREES) wins FSE Postdoc Prize
Date:30 November 2021

Shan received the prize for his impressive work and its great outreach.

Energy and carbon footprints for irrigation water in the lower Indus basin in Pakistan, comparing water supply by gravity fed canal networks and groundwater pumping
Date:01 March 2021

Irrigation water can come from surface water or groundwater, or a combination of the two. In general, efforts to provide one type or the other differ depending on local circumstances. This study aims to compare energy and carbon footprints of irrigation water provided by either a gravity-fed irrigation network requiring maintenance or a groundwater pumping system. The case study area is the lower Indus basin in Pakistan. For the assessment, the study could make use of data from local governmental organizations. Energy footprints of surface water are 3–4 KJ/m3, carbon footprints 0.22–0.30 g/m3. Groundwater has energy footprints of 2100 for diesel to 4000 KJ/m3 for electric pumps and carbon footprints of 156 for diesel and 385 g/m3 for electric pumps. Although groundwater contributes only 6% to total irrigation water supply in the lower Indus basin, it dominates energy use and CO2 emissions. The total energy footprint of surface water in Pakistan is 0.5 103 TJ/y, and for groundwater 200 103 TJ/y or 4.3% of national energy use. The total carbon footprint of surface water is 36 106 kg/y, and for groundwater 16 000 106 kg/y or 9% of Pakistan’s total CO2 emissions. Although the contributions of water supply to total energy use and CO2 emissions are small, they could increase if more groundwater is used. A shift from groundwater pumping to properly maintaining gravity-fed canal systems decreases energy use and CO2 emissions by 31–82% and increases surface water availability by 3%–10%.

ESRIG celebrates two researchers on Highly Cited Researchers 2021 List
Date:16 November 2021

ESRIG is proud to announce that two of our academics, Klaus Hubacek and Yuli Shan, have been named on the annual Highly Cited Researchers™ 2021 list from Clarivate.

ESRIG newsletter | December
Date:14 December 2020

ESRIG newsletter | November 2020

ESRIG newsletter | February
Date:10 February 2021

ESRIG newsletter | November 2020

ESRIG newsletter | November
Date:03 November 2020

ESRIG newsletter | November 2020

Evidence of decoupling consumption-based CO2 emissions from economic growth
Date:10 November 2021

Decoupling economic growth from resource use and emissions is a precondition to stay within planetary boundaries. A number of countries have achieved a reduction in their production-based emissions in the past decade. However, the decline in PBE has often been achieved via outsourcing of emissions to other countries, which may even lead to higher emissions globally. Therefore, a consumption-based perspective that accounts for a country's emissions along global supply chains should also be employed when investigating progress in decoupling. Here we investigate the progress countries made in reducing their production-based and consumption-based emissions despite growth in gross domestic product (GDP). We found that 32 out of 116 countries (mainly developed ones) achieved absolute decoupling between GDP and production-based emissions in recent years (2015–2018), and 23 countries achieved absolute decoupling between GDP and consumption-based emissions. 14 countries have decoupled GDP growth from both production- and consumption-based emissions. Even countries that have achieved absolute decoupling are still adding emissions to the atmosphere thus showing the limits of ‘green growth’ and the growth paradigm. We also observed that decoupling can be temporary, and decoupled countries may switch back to increasing emissions, which means that continuous efforts are needed to maintain decoupling. An analysis of driving factors shows that whether a country can achieve decoupling mainly depends on reducing emission intensity along domestic and import supply chains. This highlights the importance of decarbonizing supply chains and international collaboration in controlling emissions.

Fallout from coronavirus outbreak triggers 25% decrease in China's carbon emissions |CBC interview with Klaus Hubacek
Date:03 March 2020

The entanglement of economic activity and carbon emissions is one of the most vexing aspects of climate change mitigation. For years, experts have debated how to separate growth from carbon emissions, a concept known as de-coupling. "The economy grows, the emissions grow, unless we have decoupling," said Hubacek, whose research has shown that reducing carbon emissions in one country often results in a shift of carbon-intensive production to another country.

Farewell symposium Henny van der Windt
Date:28 June 2022

Farewell symposium Henny van der Windt

Ghg Balance of Agricultural Intensification & Bioenergy Production in the Orinoquia Region, Colombia
Date:11 March 2021

Energy crop expansion can increase land demand and generate displacement of food crops, which impacts greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions mainly through land-use change (LUC). Increased agricultural productivity could compensate for this. Our study aims to evaluate the regional combined GHG emissions of increasing agricultural yields for food crop and beef production and using the generated surplus land for biomass production to replace fossil fuels in the Orinoquia region of Colombia until 2030. The results show that surplus land for biomass production is obtained only when strong measures are applied to increase agricultural productivity. In the medium and high scenario, a land surplus of 0.6 and 2.4 Mha, respectively, could be generated. Such intensification results in up to 83% emission reduction in Orinoquia’s agricultural sector, largely coming from increasing productivity of cattle production and improving degraded pastures. Biofuel potential from the surplus land is projected at 36 to 368 PJ per year, with a low risk of causing indirect LUC, and results in GHG emission reductions of more than 100% compared to its fossil fuel equivalent. An integrated perspective of the agricultural land use enables sustainable production of both food and bioenergy.

Global low-carbon energy transition in the post-COVID-19 era
Date:24 November 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has created significant challenges for energy transition. Concerns about the overwhelming emphasis on economic recovery at the cost of energy transition progress have been raised worldwide. More voices are calling for “green” recovery scheme, which recovers the economy while not compromising on the environment. However, limited academic attention has been paid to comprehensively investigating the implications of COVID-19 for global energy transition. This study thus provides a comprehensive analysis of the dynamics between energy transition and COVID-19 around the world and proposes a low-carbon energy transition roadmap in the post-pandemic era. Using energy data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), we first summarized and reviewed the progress of energy transition prior to COVID-19. Building on prior progress, we identified the challenges for energy transition during the pandemic from the perspectives of government support, fossil fuel divestment, renewable energy production capacity, global supply chain, and energy poverty. However, the pandemic also generates opportunities for global energy transition. We hence also identified potential opportunities for energy transition presented by the pandemic from the perspectives of price competitiveness, policy implementation efficiency, and renewable energy strengths. We further provided an in-depth discussion on the impact of current worldwide economic recovery stimulus on energy transition. Based on the identified challenges and opportunities, we proposed the post-pandemic energy transition roadmap in terms of broadening green financing instruments, strengthening international cooperation, and enhancing green recovery plans. Our study sheds light on a global low-carbon energy transition framework and has practical implications for green recovery schemes in post-pandemic times.

Groningen puts climate adaptation on the worldwide map in January
Date:16 December 2020

It’s probably the biggest challenge of the 21st century: the changing climate. Consequences of flooding due to heavy rainfall, heatwaves, and draughts have an increasing impact on our daily lives. How we can adapt to these consequences is the main subject of the Climate Adaptation Week Groningen (The Netherlands) from Tuesday 19 until Monday 25 January 2021. It is the run-up festival to the Climate Adaptation Summit (CAS) on 25 January 2021, where world leaders will unite online to talk about concrete global actions concerning climate adaptation. Groningen is providing substantive content to that summit from youth, Nobel Prize Laureates and IPCC members.

Imagining the Anthropocene with the Wadden Sea
Date:26 October 2021

This contribution explores the potential of the Wadden Sea for the imagination of the Anthropocene. The concept of the Anthropocene represents a challenge to the cultural imagination, as it draws together deep, geological time, recent and current events, and long futures; the geographical and generational implications of justice; and the profound entanglement of human progress with ecological decline. We argue that the cultural landscape of the Wadden Sea is a space in which these paradoxes and connections are made visible and material. Literary and artistic works engaged with the Wadden Sea display a critical awareness of Anthropocene entanglements: in our analysis, we explore visual and textual representations of the Wadden Sea and show how it serves as a site for the imagination of the past and future of our planet.

Implications of COVID-19 lockdowns on surface passenger mobility and related CO2 emission changes in Europe
Date:14 July 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has severely affected our daily lives, with direct consequences on passenger transport. This in turn has strongly impacted the energy demand of the transport sector and associated CO2 emissions. We analyse near real-time passenger mobility and related emission trends in Europe between 21 January and 21 September 2020. We compiled a dataset of country-, sector- and lockdown- specific values, representing daily activity changes in private, public, and active passenger transport. In the aggregate, surface passenger transport emissions fell by 11.2% corresponding to 40.3 MtCO2 in Europe. This decline was predominantly due to the reduction of private passenger transport in five European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK). During the first lockdown in April 2020, CO2 emissions from surface passenger transport declined by 50% in Europe, resulting in a 7.1% reduction in total CO2 emissions. After April 2020, private passenger travel recovered rapidly, while public passenger flows remained low. Solely prompted by the private sector, a rebound in total emissions and surface passenger transport emissions of 1.5% and 10.7%, respectively, was estimated at the end of the study period. The resulting situation of increased private and decreased public passenger transport is in contradiction to major climate goals, and without reversing these trends, emission reductions, as stated in the European Green Deal are unlikely to be achieved. Our study provides an analysis based on a detailed and timely set of data of surface passenger transport and points to options to grasp the momentum for innovative changes in passenger mobility.

IREES celebrates 3 researchers on Highly Cited Researchers 2020 List
Date:26 November 2020

ESRIG is proud to announce that 3 of our academics have been named on the annual Highly Cited Researchers™ 2020 list from Clarivate.

Klaus Hubacek was part of a team of 29 researchers from six continents that examined the latest, globally available emissions data for the decade leading up to 2018
Date:05 July 2021

Global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be traced to five economic sectors: energy, industry, buildings, transport and AFOLU (agriculture, forestry and other land uses). In this topical review, we synthesise the literature to explain recent trends in global and regional emissions in each of these sectors. To contextualise our review, we present estimates of GHG emissions trends by sector from 1990 to 2018, describing the major sources of emissions growth, stability and decline across ten global regions. Overall, the literature and data emphasise that progress towards reducing GHG emissions has been limited. The prominent global pattern is a continuation of underlying drivers with few signs of emerging limits to demand, nor of a deep shift towards the delivery of low and zero carbon services across sectors. We observe a moderate decarbonisation of energy systems in Europe and North America, driven by fuel switching and the increasing penetration of renewables. By contrast, in rapidly industrialising regions, fossil-based energy systems have continuously expanded, only very recently slowing down in their growth. Strong demand for materials, floor area, energy services and travel have driven emissions growth in the industry, buildings and transport sectors, particularly in Eastern Asia, Southern Asia and South-East Asia. An expansion of agriculture into carbon-dense tropical forest areas has driven recent increases in AFOLU emissions in Latin America, South-East Asia and Africa. Identifying, understanding, and tackling the most persistent and climate-damaging trends across sectors is a fundamental concern for research and policy as humanity treads deeper into the Anthropocene.

Landscape-level vegetation conversion and biodiversity improvement after 33 years of restoration management in the Drentsche Aa brook valley
Date:10 November 2021

Effects of restoration management on peatlands formerly used for intensive agriculture are rarely evaluated or discussed over larger spatial and temporal scales. Here, restoration of the Drentsche Aa brook valley was evaluated at the landscape-level. Detailed vegetation maps were used with 1982 serving as the baseline, 1994 representing vegetation before rewetting, and 2015 after rewetting. Based on the mapping typology and phytosociological records, 15 main vegetation types were distinguished. Species richness and Shannon index values were calculated as plant diversity indicators, and the number of rare species was used as a rarity indicator. Basic landscape metrics were evaluated as measures of spatial heterogeneity. Results after restoration measures showed extensive vegetation type conversions clearly pointed to lower nutrient levels, and an increase in marsh vegetation at the cost of wet meadows. Significantly higher landscape heterogeneity was achieved, while biodiversity indicators showed small differences over time due to a mixture of positive and negative changes at different locations. This study shows that long-term restoration management on agricultural peatlands can be successful at landscape level. Our experience highlights the importance of continuity in management given the prolonged influence by intensive agriculture, both from former land uses and from the surrounding valley flanks.

Marta Schulte-Fischedick and Dr. Yuli Shan win FSE Impact Awards
Date:10 December 2021

With the Awards, the faculty rewards a student and a researcher who have made a special achievement in connecting scientific research to social, economic or professional practice.

Modelling the renewable transition: Scenarios and pathways for a decarbonized future using pymedeas, a new open-source energy systems model
Date:12 August 2020

This paper reviews different approaches to modelling the energy transition towards a zero carbon economy. It identifies a number of limitations in current approaches such as a lack of consideration of out-of-equilibrium situations (like an energy transition) and non-linear feedbacks. To tackle those issues, the new open source integrated assessment model pymedeas is introduced, which allows the exploration of the design and planning of appropriate strategies and policies for decarbonizing the energy sector at World and EU level. The main novelty of the new open-source model is that it addresses the energy transition by considering biophysical limits, availability of raw materials, and climate change impacts. This paper showcases the model capabilities through several simulation experiments to explore alternative pathways for the renewable transition. In the selected scenarios of this work, future shortage of fossil fuels is found to be the most influential factor of the simulations system evolution. Changes in efficiency and climate change damages are also important determinants influencing model outcomes.

Nature Food: Shifts towards healthy diets in the US can reduce environmental impacts but would be unaffordable for poorer minorities
Date:07 September 2021

Environmental implications of food choice are the focus of increasingly extensive research, but less is known about the impacts of dietary patterns of different socio-economic groups of a country, and the trade-offs between nutritional quality and environmental impacts of diet within those groups. We evaluate the impacts of US household dietary patterns on greenhouse gas emissions, blue water footprint, land use and energy consumption across supply chains using an environmentally extended input–output analysis. We compare the nutritional quality of these dietary patterns using healthy eating index scores across individuals’ income and other socio-economic characteristics. Individuals with higher income or education levels are more likely to adopt healthier diets but are also responsible for larger environmental impacts of diet primarily due to a higher consumption of dairy and livestock products, seafood and items with lower energy density but higher nutrient density. Our optimization shows that a healthy diet with lower environmental impacts is achievable within current food budgets for almost 95% of people, and results in average decreases of 2% in food-related greenhouse gas emissions, 24% in land use and 4% in energy consumption, but a 28% increase in blue water consumption. However, such dietary patterns are unaffordable for 38% of Black and Hispanic individuals in the lowest income and education groups. Policies that affect income and food prices making nutritious food more affordable would be needed to achieve better nutrition and improved environmental outcomes simultaneously, particularly for more vulnerable socio-economic groups.

Pandemic and forthcoming stimulus funds could bring climate targets in sight – or not
Date:22 December 2020

The lockdowns that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic have reduced greenhouse gas emissions. However, in the recovery phase, emissions could rise to levels above those projected before the pandemic. It all depends on how the stimulus money that governments inject into their economies is spent.

Participatory modelling in adaptive environmental management: a case study in semi-arid northern Nicaragua
Date:31 August 2020

In this authoritative book, leading international experts examine the use of scenario analyses and modelling in environmental assessments. Including chapters with a global or regional focus as well as in-depth case studies from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America, contributors analyse the latest research on the applications of scenarios and models and explore the opportunities and challenges in using them for policy relevant research and action.

PhD position in Complex Networks and Maximum Entropy Production Principle (220299)
Date:22 September 2020

PhD position in Complex Networks and Maximum Entropy Production Principle (220299), IREES/ESRIG.

Quantifying economic-social-environmental trade-offs and synergies of water-supply constraints: An application to the capital region of China
Date:01 March 2021

Sustainable water management is one of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and is characterized by a high level of interdependencies with other SDGs from regional to global scales. Many water assessment studies are restricted to silo thinking, mostly focusing on water-related consequences, while lacking a quantification of trade-offs and synergies of economic, social, and environmental dimensions. To fill this knowledge gap, we propose a “nexus” approach that integrates a water supply constrained multi-regional input-output (mixed MRIO) model, scenario analysis, and multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) to quantify the trade-offs and synergies at the sectoral level for the capital region of China, i.e. the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei urban agglomeration. A total of 120 industrial transition scenarios including nine major industries with high water-intensities and water consumption under current development pathways were developed to facilitate the trade-off and synergy analysis between economic loss, social goals (here, the number of jobs) and environmental protection (with grey water footprint representing water pollution) triggered by water conservation measures. Our simulation results show that an imposition of a tolerable water constraint (a necessary water consumption reduction for regional water stress level to move from severe to moderate) in the region would result in an average economic loss of 68.4 (± 16.0) billion Yuan (1 yuan ≈ 0.158 USD$ in 2012), or 1.3 % of regional GDP, a loss of 1.94 (± 0.18) million jobs (i.e. 3.5 % of the work force) and a reduction of 1.27 (± 0.40) billion m3 or about 2.2% of the regional grey water footprint. A tolerable water rationing in water-intensive sectors such as Agriculture, Food and tobacco processing, Electricity and heating power production and Chemicals would result in the lowest economic and job losses and the largest environmental benefits. Based on MCDA, we selected the 10 best scenarios with regard to their economic, social and environmental performances as references for guiding future water management and suggested industrial transition policies. This integrated approach could be a powerful policy support tool for 1) assessing trade-offs and synergies among multiple criteria and across multiple region-sectors under resource constraints; 2) quantifying the short-term supply-chain effects of different containment measures, and 3) facilitating more insightful evaluation of SDGs at the regional level so as to determine priorities for local governments and practitioners to achieve SDGs.

Reusing tableware can reduce waste from online food deliveries | Interview with Yuli Shan by Science Linx
Date:25 September 2020

In China, approximately 10 billion online food orders were served to over 400 million customers in 2018. Together with colleagues from China and the UK, Yuli Shan, an environmental scientist at the University of Groningen, found that reusable tableware can substantially reduce packaging waste and life cycle environmental emissions.

Sample-Based Estimation of Tree Cover Change in Haiti Using Aerial Photography: Substantial Increase in Tree Cover between 2002 and 2010
Date:17 September 2021

Recent studies have used high resolution imagery to estimate tree cover and changes in natural forest cover in Haiti. However, there is still no rigorous quantification of tree cover change accounting for planted or managed trees, which are very important in Haiti’s farming systems. We estimated net tree cover change, gross loss, and gross gain in Haiti between 2002 and 2010 from a stratified random sample of 400 pixels with a systematic sub-sample of 25 points. Using 30 cm and 1 m resolution images, we classified land cover at each point, with any point touching a woody plant higher than 5 m classified as tree crown. We found a net increase in tree crown cover equivalent to 5.0 ± 2.3% (95% confidence interval) of Haiti’s land area. Gross gains and losses amounted to 9.0 ± 2.1% and 4.0 ± 1.3% of the territory, respectively. These results challenge, for the first time with empirical evidence, the predominant narrative that portrays Haiti as experiencing ongoing forest or tree cover loss. The net gain in tree cover quantified here represents a 35% increase from 2002 to 2010. Further research is needed to determine the drivers of this substantial net gain in tree cover at the national scale.

Shifting expenditure on food, holidays, and furnishings could lower greenhouse gas emissions by almost 40%
Date:23 August 2021

This paper investigates how consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions from private households can be reduced. The aim is to quantify opportunities for mitigation through shifting expenditure on food, holidays, and furnishings to less carbon-intensive products and services that are available on the market but not yet mainstream. Two hundred and seventeen analyses of the greenhouse gas emissions/SEK for on-the-market products and services were used for estimating the consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions from an average person, an average single man and an average single woman. The consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions for these households were estimated to be 6.9, 10, and 8.5 tonnes per capita per year respectively; and food, holidays, and furnishings accounted for 56–59% of that. The alternatives to mainstream food, holidays, and furnishings include plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products, locally produced vegetables, second-hand or repaired furnishings, holidaying abroad by train, and “staycations.” Our results show that total greenhouse gas emissions can be lowered by 36–38% by shifting the expenditure on these products and services to less carbon-intensive alternatives without changing the total expenditure. The share of total emissions deriving from food, holidays, and furnishings is reduced to 30–35% after the change. The findings are discussed in the light of goals for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, additional sustainability aspects, the limitations of the study and needs for further research.

Slow easing of lockdowns may be better for global economy
Date:03 June 2020

A cautious approach to easing lockdown restrictions that reduces the risk of later lockdowns may be better for the global supply chain in the long run, according to a new modelling study by a global team with partners from Europe, the UK, the US and China.

The paper, published today in Nature Human Behaviour , is the first peer-reviewed study to comprehensively assess potential global supply chain effects of Covid-19 lockdowns, modelling the impact of lockdowns on 140 countries, including countries not directly affected by Covid-19.

SuSo PhD Grant for PhD student Dan Wang
Date:01 December 2020

SuSo PhD Grant for PhD student Dan Wang: Each year PhD students from the University of Groningen can apply for the Sustainable Society PhD Grant. This grant is intended to enable PhD candidates to gain relevant experience during their doctoral programme, to broaden their network and to further promote their research. The aim is to enable them to acquire additional experience on top of their regular activities. In total 9 PhD students received a grant this year. These grants were awarded during a digital Grant Ceremony on 12 November 2020. Winners were asked to prepare a pitch to present their research during the ceremony. The PhD candidate with the best and most persuasive pitch will receive a bonus prize: the possibility to visualize his/her research by a professional designer. This visualization will serve the goal of increasing and stimulating the visibility and impact of PhD research.

The effect of industrialization and globalization on domestic land-use: A global resource footprint perspective
Date:21 June 2021

The effect of industrialization and globalization on domestic land-use: A global resource footprint perspective

The impact of biogas production on the organic carbon input to the soil of Dutch dairy farms?
Date:17 September 2021

The use of Dutch dairy manure for biogas production is expected to increase from 10% in 2020 to 60% in 2030. Traditionally, manure is returned to fields as a source of nutrients and organic carbon. Since a share of manure carbon is converted into biogas, this practice impacts the organic carbon input to soil (OCIS) of the dairy farms. The magnitude of the impact depends on the magnitude of the other sources of organic carbon. This impact is not considered by current advocates for large-scale use of dairy manure for biogas while understanding it is essential because of the risk of decreasing carbon soil input. Therefore, a study of carbon flows of dairy farms that eventually contribute to the OCIS is required. In this paper, we use substance flow analysis to quantify the carbon flows on different Dutch dairy farms and investigate the impact of using manure for biogas production to their OCIS (kgC/year/ha). The farms differ in farming practices such as whether cows are grazed outside or not. The results show that about 40% of OCIS of a Dutch dairy farm comes from manure and the rest comes from its crop production. The organic carbon from manure to the soil is also limited by the need to export manure due to the Dutch nutrient regulations. The overall reduction in OCIS caused by biogas production is 10%–20%. The impact is largest in farms with no grazing. These findings provide insights into the possible trade-offs of using manure for biogas production.

Unreflective use of old data sources produced echo chambers in the water–electricity nexus
Date:23 February 2021

Echo chambers in science describe the amplification and repetition of information within closed networks. Frequently used data sources can cause echo chambers as scientists keep reading similar outputs from different sources, creating false perceptions of certainty and variety of data sources. We show this effect by studying the scientific and grey literature on water use by electricity systems. The power sector is the largest contributor to anthropogenic carbon emissions and the second largest water consumer. We have assessed the scope and references of 2,426 papers and created a citation network to trace original data sources. Most data sources used for the last 30 years originate from a few old US publications, recently also Chinese, that echo through publications. This echo effect, also reflected in recent scientific publications, creates a confirmation bias, also facilitating double counting of the water intensities of electricity generation. This example from sustainability science warns of the risk of echo chambers in other scientific disciplines.

Updates by Henk Mulder on Science Shops
Date:12 October 2021

Elk jaar brengen de Wetenschapswinkels gezamenlijk een jaarbericht uit. In dit jaarbericht worden projecten van het afgelopen jaar uitgelicht, nieuwe medewerkers voorgesteld, een overzicht gegeven van publicaties, et cetera.

What makes district heating cooperatives successful? | Final report "Neighborhood Heat" project
Date:07 July 2021

In the Netherlands, hundreds of energy cooperatives try to accelerate the energy transition by developing plans for collectively owned wind and solar projects. Dur-ing the last 5 years so-called buurtwarmte (“neighborhood heat”) cooperatives were founded to realize collective sustainable district heating systems. We have studied 4 front runners, in Amsterdam, Den Haag, Groningen and Wageningen, together with colleagues of de Hanzehogeschool, TNO and a local energy coop-erative. We were interested in the question to what extent Dutch local energy cooperatives are able to develop and realize collective heating networks. Eventu-ally each of our four cases was able to develop a heating system plan and two of them are in the pre-engineering stage, but it turned out to be far from easy to develop such a system. We identified five main problems.

Windmolens in de achtertuin en zonneparken voor de deur, maar het grote geld gaat naar projectontwikkelaars en China. Aan de worsteling van Groningen met de energietransitie komt voorlopig geen einde | DVHN longread
Date:31 May 2021

Van der Waal, die in maart is gepromoveerd op een onderzoek naar de rol van lokale energiecollectieven, stelt dat een klankbordgroep niet per se betekent dat het proces eerlijker is. Je zet bewoners in zo’n groep met vertegenwoordigers van een projectontwikkelaar en anderen die, bijvoorbeeld vanuit een gemeente, daar fulltime aan werken. Een bewoner moet proberen dat allemaal bij te houden in de avonduren. Dan is de kans aanwezig dat die onder de tafel wordt gepraat. Echte participatie is meer dan een groep bij elkaar brengen en een beetje aanhoren wat mensen te zeggen hebben en wat hun voorkeuren zijn. En daar vervolgens mee doen wat minimaal aanvaardbaar is.