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SSECCM-IE Society-wide Scenarios for Effective Climate Change Mitigation

The SSECCM project's overarching objective is to present a comparative analysis of international studies of economy-wide long-term deep decarbonisation scenarios, identifying strengths and weaknesses of approaches and relevance in an Irish context. Society-wide Scenarios for Effective Climate Change Mitigation (SSECCM-IE) is an EPA-funded, 1-year project (grant reference 2018-CCRP-DS.14) reviewing literature toward informing research and policy recommendations for the design of deep decarbonisation scenarios relevant to Ireland's low carbon transition. This project, looking at all greenhouse gases from all sectors, follows on from the IENETS-IE project, which focused on Ireland's carbon dioxide quota and carbon dioxide removal potential.

The research output will describe options for a variety of different deep decarbonisation scenarios, taking account of the structure of Ireland’s economy, Ireland’s geographical endowment and expected demographic changes. The scope will include all relevant greenhouse gas emissions from all key sources, including agriculture, forestry and other land-uses, as well as other non- energy related emissions from sectors covered by the National Inventory.

This (preliminary) research will be specifically designed to support scoping of a future full-scale decarbonisation pathways scenarios study for Ireland.

SSECCM-IE project outputs: 
The SSECCM-IE project is funded under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Research Programme 2014-2020grant reference 2018-CCRP-DS.14. The EPA Research Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

SSECCM final EPA report
The peer-reviewed summary of the SSECCM project has now been officially published as EPA Report 352: 

A full technical report is also available:

The following gives the final report's project summary, policy and findings:

Identifying Pressures
Rapid global warming due to emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) caused by human activities is negatively affecting global
climate and ecological systems. Rapid reduction of GHG emissions to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement will require
transformational changes in society while maintaining and supporting society’s resilience. Ireland’s energy supply is already
moving away from the use of coal and peat, but it will also need to rapidly stop using oil and natural gas. Ireland’s electricity grid
is world leading in integrating variable wind energy. However, even greater flexibility, including very large-scale energy storage,
will be required in future, as well as substantially electrifying heat and transport energy use. Transport emissions continue
to be strongly coupled to national economic activity. Agricultural emissions decreased in the 2000s but, since 2010, policy to
encourage expansion has greatly increased imports of nitrogen fertiliser and feed inputs, resulting in rapidly rising emissions of
nitrous oxide from soils and methane emissions from animals. International aviation and other consumption emissions arising
outside Ireland’ borders are projected to grow. Projected Irish population growth substantially increases the required rate of

Informing Policy
This research assesses the international literature to inform climate mitigation policy in Ireland. It provides a preliminary tool for
comparing policy within the Paris Agreement commitments. This requires explicit national “fair share” cumulative GHG emission
budgets, equitably aligned with the Paris goals to limit global temperature increases, with very limited reliance on high-risk
carbon dioxide (CO₂) removal from the atmosphere. Current policy-relevant scenarios and related analyses are too narrowly
based, so exploring “radical” scenarios would give a stronger risk assessment basis for climate action to avoid costly surprises.
The likely damage caused by climate is being underestimated. Robust climate planning incorporates just transition, social equity
(including gender equality), and economic distribution effects. Current national economic and energy modelling is reliant on
highly contested simplifying assumptions. Greater use of dynamic simulation modelling to evaluate policy resilience under
system change or sudden crisis could better inform societal change and achieve mitigation rates more aligned with the escalating
climate and biodiversity emergencies. The use of reactive nitrogen, imported in fertiliser and indirectly via feed, and already
effectively reduced in other EU nations, is a primary driver of increasing Irish methane emissions from cattle.

Developing Solutions
Delayed climate action to date now means achieving GHG emission reduction very rapidly. Further research must occur
in parallel with rapid near-term decarbonisation. To drive innovation, overcome carbon lock-in effects and increase social
acceptance, existing demand measures (efficiency and carbon pricing) could be complemented by equitable supply-side
regulation of imported fossil fuel and reactive nitrogen. Modelling for global climate and sustainable development goals could
be improved if it were based on allowable future quantities of fossil fuel and reactive nitrogen use within equitable national
budgets, rather than on notional costs. The GHG-WE tool developed in this project provides preliminary modelling of alternative
national policy scenarios. For effective climate change mitigation, steadily reducing Ireland’s relatively high non-CO₂ emissions
from agriculture could greatly ease otherwise increasingly unachievable reductions solely in CO₂. Recent policy developments in
New Zealand, which has similar population and agricultural emissions profiles to Ireland, provides useful guidance for Irish policy
development. Protecting existing carbon stocks (in peat and managed forest) should be the strongest priority for near-term
mitigation of CO₂ emissions arising from land use.