Constraints on biomass energy deployment in mitigation pathways: the case of water scarcity

Séférian, Roland ; Rocher, Matthias ; Guivarch, Celine ; Colin, Jeanne

Année de publication
To limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius most of the IPCC-WGIII future stringent mitigation pathways feature a massive global-scale deployment of negative emissions technologies (NETs) before the end of the century. The global-scale deployment of NETs like Biomass Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) can be hampered by climate constraints that are not taken into account by Integrated Assessment Models used to produce those pathways. Among the various climate constraints, water scarcity appears as a potential bottleneck for future land-based mitigation strategies and remains largely unexplored. Here, we assess climate constraints relative to water scarcity in response to the global deployment of BECCS. To this end, we confront results from an Earth system model (ESM) and an Integrated assessment model (IAM) under an array of 25 stringent mitigation pathways. These pathways are compatible with the Paris Agreement long-term temperature goal and with cumulative carbon emissions ranging from 230 Pg C and 300 Pg C from January 1st onwards. We show that all stylized mitigation pathways studied in this work limit warming below 2°C or even 1.5°C by 2100 but all exhibit a temperature overshoot exceeding 2°C after 2050. According to the IAM, a subset of 17 emission pathways are feasible when evaluated in terms of socio-economic and technological constraints. The ESM however shows that water scarcity would limit the deployment of BECCS in all the mitigation pathways assessed in this work. Our findings suggest that the evolution of the water resources under climate change can exert a significant constraint on BECCS deployment before 2050. In 2100, the BECCS water needs could represent more than 30% of the total precipitation in several regions like Europe or Asia.
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