Using systems thinking and causal loop diagrams to identify cascading climate change impacts on bioenergy supply systems

Fanny Groundstroem, Sirkku Juhola
2021 Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change  
AbstractIncreased use of bioenergy, driven by ambitious climate and energy policies, has led to an upsurge in international bioenergy trade. Simultaneously, it is evident that every node of the bioenergy supply chain, from cultivation of energy crops to production of electricity and heat, is vulnerable to climate change impacts. However, climate change assessments of bioenergy supply chains neither account for the global nature of the bioenergy market, nor the complexity and dynamic
more » ... ivity between and within different sub-systems in which the bioenergy supply chain is embedded, thereby neglecting potential compounding and cascading impacts of climate change. In this paper, systems thinking is utilised to develop an analytical framework to address this gap, and aided by causal loop diagrams, cascading impacts of climate change are identified for a case study concerning imports of wood pellets from the United States to the European Union. The findings illustrate how the complexity and interconnectivity of the wood pellet supply system predispose the supply chain to various cascading climate change impacts stemming from environmental, social, political and economic domains, and highlight the value of using system-based analysis tools for studying such complex and dynamic systems.
doi:10.1007/s11027-021-09967-0 fatcat:2e3hziekdjhpxbzsrk3mcuhlda