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East Med electricity links can lead to zero carbon emissions

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Electricity trade can contribute substantially to the cost-optimal achievement of greenhouse gas emission abatement targets and lead the Eastern Mediterranean & Middle East (EMME) region to net zero carbon emissions by the mid-21st century, a study shows.

The Cyprus Institute (CyI) said its researchers have worked on energy and climate policy analyses for the EMME region to contribute to assessing decarbonisation challenges and provide insights for policymakers.

This work has led to two scientific publications in internationally acclaimed journals.

In collaboration with Steven Griffiths of Khalifa University of Science and Technology in the United Arab Emirates, CyI researchers addressed how to share the effort of greenhouse gas emission reductions between EMME countries if the region is to be aligned with the Paris Agreement.

Fairness of global decarbonisation effort is foundational to climate change mitigation discussions.

Scientists explored 14 approaches, based on the three main equity principles defined by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to determine equitable national emission allocations in 2030 for the 17 EMME countries to achieve net zero carbon emissions in 2050 (for the 1.5-degree Celsius climate stabilisation target) or 2070 (for the 2-degree target).

The significant heterogeneity among EMME countries makes it particularly challenging to allocate such targets in a fair and politically acceptable way.

CyI researchers said they developed the first fully open-source energy systems model for the EMME region, relying solely on publicly available data.

This model is freely available for researchers who wish to conduct more detailed analysis at a regional or national level.

Scenarios implemented with this model highlight that increased electricity interconnections between EMME countries can offer great benefits by unlocking the region’s largely unexploited renewable energy potential.

These two studies underline “the huge environmental and socio-economic benefits that can result from cooperation among EMME countries,” said CyI.