A comparison of low carbon investment needs between China and Europe in stringent climate policy scenarios

Wenji Zhou*, David L. McCollum, Oliver Fricko, Matthew Gidden, Daniel Huppmann, Volker Krey, Keywan Riahi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The radical change in recent global climate governance calls for China and Europe to ramp up their efforts in leading the world to reach the long-term climate goals. By analyzing the results from the state-of-the-art global integrated assessment model, MESSAGEix-GLOBIOM, this paper aims to understand the future levels of financial investment needed for building and maintaining energy-related infrastructure in the two regions for fulfilling stringent targets consistent with 'well below 2 °C'. The results indicate that a rapid upscaling and structural change of these investments towards decarbonization are necessitated by the climate stringent scenarios. China and Europe need to increase their low carbon investments by 65% and 38% in a scenario reaching the 2° target relative to their respective reference scenarios which assume no such target from 2016-2050. In a more stringent climate policy scenario of the 1.5° target, these investment needs will increase by 149% and 79% for China and Europe respectively. Among all the energy sectors, energy efficiency, renewable electricity generation and electricity transmission and distribution are the three largest investing targets for the two regions. However, those investments will not likely be realized without strong policy incentives. Implications for green finance and multilateral cooperation initiatives are discussed in the context of the scenario results.

Original languageEnglish
Article number054017
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2019


  • energy investment
  • integrated assessment
  • low carbon investment
  • paris agreement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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