Energy policy and plans are laid out with two kinds of objectives viz. Means objectives and Final objectives. The final objectives are ultimate goals of reducing the negative impacts of climate change and creating a sustainable human environment that is progressive. The means objectives are intermediate steps laid out to achieve the final objective. There are three means objectives laid out by MacKay that are commonly accepted viz. Environment/Safety (human dimension), Energy security and Economic development. The Environment/Safety involves factors such as Green House Gases (GHG’s), NOx, SOx, ash, Hg, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), Particulate matter (PM2.5, PM10), Thermal shock, radioactive waste, land use, etc. Energy security involves import oil dependence, nuclear power, shale gas and uninterruptible supplies. Economic development involves low energy cost, availability of energy (chiefly electricity), clean manufacturing practices, etc. Another dimension is process, selecting the form of process or even creating a process to achieve an objective. Means based objectives and Final objectives are weighed against each other and against cost using a cost benefit analysis that gives trade off among these objectives.
The means to achieve such objectives are mandates, incentives/penalties, markets and volunteers. The mandates involve ban, restrictions, requirements, quotas, government purchase, etc. The incentives/ penalties involve subsidies, tax credits, grants, fines, tariffs, rebates, etc. The markets include cap in trade, permits, renewable portfolio standard, etc. The volunteering initiatives include education, volunteer standards, behavior, labeling, information, etc. All of these objectives and means to achieve such objectives involve uncertainties deeply rooted within them.
The main uncertainty is massive size of system in consideration. The system is Earth itself. To model Earth’s behavior as a system for various parameters is a hard to achieve challenge. The wide range of model results reflects the design of the models and the choice of assumptions included within them, which itself reflects uncertainties and differing approaches inherent in projecting the future. Any such modeling in whole or part requires caution and humility, and the results are specific to the model and its assumptions. They should not be endowed with a precision and certainty that is simply impossible to achieve. The chief uncertainties with the impacts of climate change are ignorance of time factor, technological advances, economics, policy, planning and society. These include the difficulties of estimating the costs of technologies several decades into the future, as well as the way in which fossil-fuel prices evolve in the future. It is also hard to know how people will respond to price changes.
Majority of current data uses time factors of different definitions that make such data hard to relate from a reference line. For example is it possible to...