This webtalk will be presented by our young researcher Johannes Stangl on Friday, January 14, 3 pm via Zoom.
If you want to join the presentation, please send an email to email@example.com.
The transition to a low carbon economy comes with many challenges. One of the biggest is the reorganization of economic production such that the least amount of greenhouse gases is emitted while the production of economic goods and services is kept at decent levels.
We model the economy as a complex network to show how a networks perspective might inform the low carbon transition. We compare the systemic relevance of each company with its greenhouse gas emissions to identify potential levers for decarbonization. This idea is demonstrated for the 30.000 companies involved in the Austrian pork supply network which we reconstructed from various data sources. The nodes in this network are individual companies such as farms, slaughterhouses, meat processors, distribution centers and supermarkets. The edges are supply and buy relations between those companies and represent the number of transferred pigs or pork. Each company is dependent on its suppliers to deliver resources for its production and on its buyers to sell its products. From these interdependencies network structures arise that are vulnerable to potential cascading failures, should a node stop supplying and/or buying its neighboring nodes. The inherent systemic risk that each node poses to the whole network can be quantified by simulating its failure and observing the consequences.
By summing up the losses of production one can calculate a company’s economic systemic risk index (ESRI) – a method developed by Diem et al. . We compare this measure of socio-economic relevance with the CO2 emissions of each company in the Austrian pork supply network. We know the CO2 emissions associated with a particular production step from a recent lifecycle assessment of Austrian pork done by Winkler et al. . These emission factors are used to calculate an estimate of each company’s annual CO2 emissions. We find that companies with high emissions and low socio-economic relevance are potential levers for decarbonization. By targeting these companies with regulatory policies or tailored carbon taxes a maximum of saved emissions and a minimum of disruption to overall production can be expected. Modeling the economy as a complex network therefore reveals mitigation potentials and potential pitfalls.
We plan to extend this proof of concept to more complex supply networks in the future.
 C. Diem, A. Borsos, T. Reisch, J. Kertesz, S. Thurner, arXiv:2104.07260v1
 T. Winkler, K. Schopf, R. Aschemann, W. Winiwarter, J Cleaner Production, 116 (2016) 80-89