Foto: Sonia Yeh
​Professor Sonia Yeh, energy and climate expert, at Chalmers University of Technology,
Photo: U.S. Embassy Vienna.​

We must take action instead of arguing how costly it might be

More than 90 authors from 40 countries have contributed to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC´s, newest report on global warming. Over 6,000 scientific references are cited, and a total of 42,000 comments from inspecting experts and governments are included in the report. One of the cited scientists is Sonia Yeh, Professor of energy and transport systems at Chalmers.
In 2014, Sonia Yeh co-founded and co-led the International Transportation Energy Modeling (ITEMcomparison project in collaboration with four internationally prominent transportation modeling groups (University of California, Davis, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and MIT Joint Program on the Science & Policy of Global Change). 

"The members of ITEM include universities and research organizations, national government agencies, international government organizations (IGOs), non-government organizations (NGOs), energy firms, and consultancies. “It’s an exciting group to work with,” says Sonia Yeh.


Sonia continues: ”Our paper, "Detailed assessment of global transport-energy models'structures and projections​​", was cited in the IPCC report because it summarizes important work from a team of prominent transport modeling groups with researchers from around the world. They are particularly important since they develop global transportation scenarios and projections that inform and influence public opinions, industry response and policy formulation in transport planning, energy supply, and services.”


IPCCs Special Report on Global Warming will be a key scientific input into the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December 2018, when the world's countries are meeting to go through the Paris Agreement.

What is your article about?
“In the paper, we compare the projections of transportation demand, fuel use, technology, and emissions by mode, for example aviation, rail, shipping, cars, trucks, given various “business-as-usual” and “low-carbon pathway” scenarios. We try to be “descriptive” rather than “prescriptive” and the models consider demand changes, technological changes, and changes in emissions. These aspects are extremely important, because it helps us reflect on what are likely to happen, and how to get to very low-carbon futures. Just as important, we also identify important research gaps to better understand where the uncertainties are and provide guidance for future research and policy discussions. 

”We are really proud of Sonia Yeh. When science contributes to policy making, it´s an important part the utilization of Chalmers research,” says, Maria Grahn, Director of Energy Area of Advance

The conclusion of the IPCC report
The IPCC report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require "rapid and far-reaching" transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching 'net zero' around 2050. This means that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air.
Sonia Yeh thinks our best hope to achieve the 1.5 degree goal is to better understand the trends for demand growth, behavior changes, technological change, and to identify policy tools to help us get to where we want to go, either through carbon tax, cap-and-trade, market-based policy instruments, or technology standards. 

”But we must take action instead of arguing how costly it might be because taking no action is extremely expensive too! We have already seen, in the past few years, the damages likely caused by climate change.”

When do you think fossil-free transports will get a real breakthrough?
”I think we are already experiencing lots of breakthroughs: electrification of cars, trucks, shipping or even aviation; new mobility services such as car/bike/ride/scooter sharing; and autonomous cars. The so-called three revolutions in the transport space. These are exciting times and scary times. Exciting because these technology advancements may prove to significantly reduce transport emissions and further improve the quality of lives.
The times are scary because, if unchecked, the emissions could also drastically increase if consumers take advantages of the convenience of new services and technologies without understanding the bad consequences of increased fuel usage. Therefore, researchers and policymakers are watching these growths very closely. We are both optimistic and cautious at the same time and will continue to work with all stakeholders to improve our understanding and help to provide better policy solutions," says Sonia Yeh. 

By: Ann-Christine Nordin, Photo: U.S. Embassy Vienna.

Sonia Yeh, Chalmers
She creates a common base for energy issues with California

Page manager Published: Wed 24 Oct 2018.