Interdisciplinary climate modeling

One of the greatest challenges facing humanity is climate change. To avoid dangerous changes in the climate system, the increase in global average temperature needs to be halted at a level well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels as agreed in the Paris agreement. Greenhouse gas emissions need to be rapidly reduced to achieve such a climate target. The interlinkages between societal and climate systems need to be understood to achieve a transition to a low-carbon society where carbon emissions are virtually eliminated. In this research area, we use interdisciplinary modeling approaches to increase our understanding of the integration of those systems.

Backlit person on a cliff

Research fields

We are currently pursuing research along three linked fields.

Pathways to meet global climate targets

Many potential future pathways may be consistent with the global climate target stated in the Paris Agreement. Each pathway has different consequences for the future mix of different greenhouse gas emissions and the transition of technological systems. In this field of research, we use methods such as reduced complexity climate models, and integrated assessment models to analyze various pathways. Our research questions are related to, for example, the timing of emissions reductions, the role of carbon dioxide removal technologies, and the implications of uncertainties in the climate system for emission pathways toward global climate targets. Within this field, we also carry out cost benefit analysis of global emission pathways.

Climate impacts of different greenhouse gases

Greenhouse gases have different properties. For example, carbon dioxide is in relation to methane a weak greenhouse gas per ton of emissions, but it has a very long lifetime in the atmosphere, while methane is a much stronger greenhouse per ton of emissions, but is relatively short-lived in the atmosphere. Within this research field, we analyze and assess different approaches for comparing and evaluating climate impacts of different greenhouse gases. For example, we have analyzed the social cost of emissions of different greenhouse gases, alternative metrics to Global Warming Potentials (GWP), and the global temperature impact of aviation as well as of biomass use.

Supply chain dynamics of national mitigation strategies

The full emission reduction potential and resource use consequences of different national mitigation strategies can be difficult to quantify. Some products and services have the potential to reduce emissions in one part of the system, such as eliminating tailpipe emissions by introducing electric cars, while increasing emissions in another, such as battery manufacturing in the case of the electric car. These interactions may also change over time in response to maturing technologies, increased efficiency in production and changes in policies in countries involved in the supply chain. Hence, understanding the full supply chain of products and services, including shifts in consumption patterns, are important for formulating national mitigation strategies. In this field of research, we use methods, such as prospective lifecycle assessment and stock turnover models, to analyze emission reduction potentials and resource use (critical metals) of different mitigation strategies.

Senior researchers

Key publications

Azar, C., Johansson, D. J., Martín, J. G., & Sterner, T. (2023). The social cost of methane. Climatic Change, 176(6), 71.

Cherp, A., Vinichenko, V., Tosun, J., Gordon, J. A., & Jewell, J. (2021). National growth dynamics of wind and solar power compared to the growth required for global climate targets. Nature Energy6(7), 742–754.

Hänsel, M.C., Drupp, M.A., Johansson, D.J.A., Nesje F., Azar C., Freeman M. C., Groom B., Sterner T. (2020), Climate economics support for the UN climate targets. Nat. Clim. Chang. 10, 781–789.

Johansson D.J.A., Azar C., Lehtveer M., Peters G.P. (2020). The role of negative carbon emissions in reaching the Paris climate targets: The impact of target formulation in integrated assessment models, Environmental Research Letters 15 (12), 1240.

Morfeldt, J., Johansson, D.J.A. (2022). Impacts of shared mobility on vehicle lifetimes and on the carbon footprint of electric vehicles. Nat Commun 13, 6400.

Morfeldt, J., Larsson, J., Andersson, D., Johansson, D. J., Rootzén, J., Hult, C., & Karlsson, I. (2023). Emission pathways and mitigation options for achieving consumption-based climate targets in Sweden. Communications Earth & Environment, 4(1), 342.

Vinichenko, V., Vetier, M., Jewell, J., Nacke, L., & Cherp, A. (2023). Phasing out coal for 2 °C target requires worldwide replication of most ambitious national plans despite security and fairness concerns. Environmental Research Letters18(1), 014031.