SFU Model To Help Cut Greenhouse Gas

November 19, 1998

A computer model for evaluating policies developed at Simon Fraser University will play a key role in helping the country reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The federal government has adopted ISTUM, or intra-sectoral technology use model, to estimate the costs associated with reducing Canada's greenhouse gas emissions and develop policies that will help the country get closer to its reduction targets in the next century.

The model was designed by Mark Jaccard, an associate professor in the school of resource and environmental management, when he was a doctoral student a decade ago. He's since refined it, while recent PhD graduate John Nyboer has collected massive amounts of data for analysis on everything related to technology use -- from home and business energy consumption to production costs -- for the entire country.

ISTUM works by keeping track of all data related to technology, then simulating the behavior of households and firms when they make decisions to acquire something that uses energy. It can then search out opportunities for energy savings or efficiencies and look at what policies or policy changes are needed. "In other words, we can use this model to say 'here are some policies we want to develop or change, which could include adding regulations, extra fees or subsidies, creating incentives or providing more information to consumers ' all different ways in which you might try to influence people's decisions when they buy equipment," explains Jaccard, a member of the B.C. Greenhouse Gas Forum. He has also spent the past four years as one of two Canadian appointees to the intergovernmental panel on climate change and is director of SFU's energy research group, which includes Nyboer and colleague Alison Baillie.

The SFU model has been used for energy efficiency in industry as well as by the provincial government and has become the new tool in the federal government's greenhouse gas reduction plan.

"Energy efficiency and fuel switching are the two pillars of greenhouse gas reduction policies we look at," notes Jaccard. "There are other approaches -- reducing the population, or the standard of living -- but neither is on the political agenda. We're saying, tell us what the population and standard of living will be, and we'll work on the technical side to see what policies are needed to effect the mix of technologies out there. In that sense, this is an immediate policy tool."

Governments are interested in the year 2010, as the deadlines chosen in Kyoto last winter "are driving everything," says Jaccard. "They're saying, finally, at the international level, there is a binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Are they attainable? In my opinion, not with the policies they're currently working with.

"I think we're going to have an iterative process, where the government will try certain policies, realize they're not getting us far -- in fact, the model will help to predict that -- then move towards stronger policies, with ongoing public education."
Mark Jaccard, 604-291-4219
Marianne Meadahl, media/pr, 604-291-4323

Simon Fraser University

Related Climate Change Articles from Brightsurf:

Are climate scientists being too cautious when linking extreme weather to climate change?
Climate science has focused on avoiding false alarms when linking extreme events to climate change.

Mysterious climate change
New research findings underline the crucial role that sea ice throughout the Southern Ocean played for atmospheric CO2 in times of rapid climate change in the past.

Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.

Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.

Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.

Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.

A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.

Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).

Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.

Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.

Read More: Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.