Research article

A virtual global carbon price enabling engineers to drive essential and rapid decarbonization

Authors
  • Richard Clarke (Ortec Finance, Bridge House, 181 Queen Victoria Street, London EC4V 4EG)
  • Mark Maslin orcid logo (Department of Geography, University College London, Gower Street, WC1E 6BT)

This article is a preprint currently under revision.

Abstract

Climate change is now an infrastructure challenge. Within the next 30 years our energy generation must switch from fossil fuels to renewables (IPCC, 2022). New buildings need to be zero-carbon and existing buildings need to be retrofitted (IPCC, 2022). Our global transportation network will need to be transformed. Delivering the Net Zero world is an engineering challenge (Clarke and Maslin, 2022). But to do this we need a globally agreed virtual carbon price so that every single infrastructure project can be assessed in terms of its impact on carbon emissions and thus planetary health. We propose a loss and damage-based carbon price that is enhanced (or reduced) by variable, national impact factors. Carbon intensity weighting would further increase the price's impact.

Keywords: climate change, loss and damage, Sustainable development, Built environment, The Environment, Climate, carbon, net zero, engineering, carbon price

Preprint Under Review

 Open peer review from UCL Open: Environment Editorial Office

Reviewer: UCL Open: Environment Editorial Office
ORCID: orcid logo https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4641-5714
DOI: 10.14293/S2199-1006.1.SOR-EARTH.AFABKP.v1.RZPWQH
Date Completed: 2023-04-26

Review

Review information

DOI:: 10.14293/S2199-1006.1.SOR-EARTH.AFABKP.v1.RZPWQH
License:
This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0 , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at www.scienceopen.com .

ScienceOpen disciplines: Earth & Environmental sciences
Keywords: Built environment , carbon , net zero , carbon price , The Environment , Climate , Sustainable development , engineering , climate change , loss and damage

Review text

Please find below my comments on the paper

Title: A virtual global carbon price enabling engineers to drive essential and rapid decarbonization

The abstract states that our energy generation must be switched to RE within the next 30 years. This is not very accurate as eneregy generation via fossil fuel will still be made, but at a reduced level. Also, please remove citation (Clarke and Maslin, 2022) from the abstract.

The Introduction section is rather short and does not offer clear description/discussion of the research problem and does not offer motivations for the study. what is the research query/questions?

Discussion of data lacks coherance. why such data was collected? links between the research query and data is key

Discussion of Methods: [Secondly, to ensure continuing best practice it will be necessary, from the very start, to link the carbon prices to all energy types and not just fossil fuels.] It is not clear how and why apply cabon prices on RE options. Energy generated by RE does not result in emissions.

Carbon Pricing and Engineering: [An alternative approach is to address the loss and damage caused by CO₂ specifically] alternative to what?

you need to explain what you mean by [loss and damage-based carbon price], also to justfiy you suggestion that this approach to be used. how the damage will be estimated? much subjectivity may involve much subjectivity - needs further discussion.

what is really lacking from this study is a discussion of similar and related literature.

In this discussion section [On every board and division, there needs to be an executive level officer who is responsible for transition compliance and lifecycle engineering.] this suggestion is not based on emperical evidence. it is a mere suggestion, and therefore needs to be removed from this section.

the four recommendations need to be reviewed and aligned with the emperical results of the paper

Overall, I found this a rather weak article, however for an online publishing it may be fit but only after being reviweed and strengthened further



License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use. No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.

Note:
This review refers to round 1 of peer review and may pertain to an earlier version of the document.

 Open peer review from Carmelina Cosmi

Reviewer: Carmelina Cosmi
ORCID: orcid logo https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9981-0684
DOI: 10.14293/S2199-1006.1.SOR-EARTH.ASDW1U.v1.RJWFBM
Date Completed: 2023-03-26

Review

Review information

DOI:: 10.14293/S2199-1006.1.SOR-EARTH.ASDW1U.v1.RJWFBM
License:
This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0 , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at www.scienceopen.com .

ScienceOpen disciplines: Earth & Environmental sciences
Keywords: Built environment , carbon , net zero , carbon price , The Environment , Climate , Sustainable development , engineering , climate change , loss and damage

Review text

Global carbon pricing has been recognized as a cost-effective way to reduce carbon emissions and support the achievement of the Net Zero goal. The proposed method of assigning a price based on carbon intensity weighting from an LCA perspective is attractive and could be useful in accelerating the technology transition. Therefore, the article could contribute to the scientific debate by providing a method for evaluating technologies and driving decarbonization based on differentiated carbon pricing.  However, in its current form, it has many shortcomings that limit its usefulness and clarity as explained in the following.

The abstract should better focus on the objective of the study and briefly explain the application and main conclusions, so as to provide the reader with the essential context, highlight the objectives and key findings.

The introduction is vague and does not focus the topic of the paper. Carbon pricing/carbon tax is a widely discussed topic and a thorough evaluation of the existing literature is necessary to frame the study and improve its innovative contribution to the scientific debate. Some opinions not substantiated by recent studies and legislative measures are also reported.  For example, the authors report that "Energy efficiency, resource utilization, local pollution abatement, and cost reduction have enabled mass access to affordable transportation, technology, and food. But this has come at the expense of the global environment."  Related to this statement, it should be noted that according to the "energy efficiency first" principle, energy efficiency is considered by the EU to be the "first fuel" to achieve climate mitigation (e.g. European Green Deal Package, Commission Recommendation (EU) 2021/1749, Energy Efficiency Directive 2018/2002), and as outlined by the recent IEA Energy Efficiency 2022 report. This concept should be appropriately emphasized in the context of the document, taking into account the significant contribution to the reduction of CO2 and other emissions from anthropogenic activities.

In addition, as underlined by the authors, a holistic approach is certainly useful in addressing complex issues such as climate change mitigation and "planetary health". This is what energy modelers have been doing by for many decades, developing complex models based on optimizing resource use and performing in-depth scenario analyses widely used for policy assessment at different spatial scales (e.g., the E3M Lab http://www.e3mlab.eu/e3mlab/; IEA-ETSAP https://iea-etsap.org/index.php). Therefore, in light of these studies, the authors should review the possible implications of their analysis, which can certainly support technology assessment in a complex modeling environment.

The section on Data should be moved after Methods and more extensive comments are needed to better understand how these data were processed and further used in the application of the method proposed by the authors.  In fact, the presentation of the application of the method is unclear and should be reworded to highlight its usefulness and the main results obtained in terms of promoting clean technologies and fuels that can accelerate the energy transition as well as policy indications.

The conclusions are also vague, non-explanatory and not supported by the results and/or scientific evidence.

Taking into account the above comments, the authors should improve the manuscript accordingly, including a thorough analysis of the state of the art, highlighting the scientific content and the importance of the study in the context of climate change mitigation and energy system transformation.



License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use. No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.

Note:
This review refers to round 1 of peer review and may pertain to an earlier version of the document.