As the Paris climate conference approaches, a new report by SFI External Professor Jessika Trancik’s lab advocates for more realistic energy policies that acknowledge, and employ, complex systems approaches.

The report details the nonlinear processes by which low-carbon energy technologies evolve. This dynamic view of technological evolution, which differs from the static picture policy makers sometimes assume, could inform more realistic energy policies and emissions targets. 

The report analyzes international development and costs of wind and solar tech over the past four decades. The analysis uniquely captures nonlinear dynamics such as positive feedback loops that rapidly drive down the costs of low-carbon technology. In the report’s final chapters, Trancik and her co-authors project how country-specific climate pledges could affect the future installation and cost of low-carbon technologies and consider salient points for climate change negotiations.

"Commitments made in international climate negotiations offer an opportunity to support the technological innovation needed to achieve a self-sustaining, virtuous cycle of emissions reductions and low-carbon technology development by 2030," reads the executive summary.

Trancik presented the report at the White House on Friday in advance of the United Nations conference on climate change in December. The international conference in Paris is expected to produce a new global agreement with country-specific emissions targets for 2020-2030.   

Read the report on the Trancik Lab website (November 13, 2015)

Read the White House blog entry about Friday's briefing (November 13, 2015)

Read the MIT News article (November 13, 2015)

More about the UN conference on climate change (November 30 - December 11, 2015)