Background Low-Carbon Economy

Sustainability assessments for the low-carbon economy


The European Union has set up a roadmap towards a low-carbon economy, in which – by 2050 – greenhouse gas emissions should be 80% below year 1990 levels. To avoid drastic emission cuts at a later stage, actions should not be postponed and should involve contributions of all the main sectors responsible for Europe's emissions. To realize a successful transition to a Low Carbon Economy, innovation and investment are required. This transition should involve (i) the development of clean technologies and low- or zero carbon energy, (ii) the reduction in key resource use, (iii) increase energy security, and (iv) bring health benefits. Consequently, there is a strong need to develop and apply methods that assess and optimize the environmental, economic and overall societal effects of the different actions taken across the different industrial sectors and policy levels.

To meet this demand, we organize an innovative interdisciplinary PhD expert course on the state-of-the-art in Techno-Economic Assessment (TEA), Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), and Integrated Assessment (IA). TEA is a quantitative evaluation method which allows both technical and economic optimization to be performed simultaneously. LCA is a standardized, quantitative method which is used to assess the environmental impact(s) of products over their full life cycle. We will also discuss the state-of-the art in the integration of economic and environmental metrics, which allows for more holistic assessments. 

These assessment tools have a multitude of useful applications in different disciplines (e.g. engineering, economics, chemistry, architecture, biology, geography, environmental sciences,..). However, interchange between these different disciplines with regard to tool usage and tool development is currently limited. Furthermore, as the actual actions for the Low-Carbon Economy are taken at industry and policy level, transfer of knowledge and integration of the different work fields are required. As such, the course intends to deepen discipline-specific skills, to build inter-disciplinary skills, and to show how to bridge academic expertise with the work field of industry and policy.