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Socioeconomic challenges and opportunities in the low-carbon transition of the energy system

Haozhe Yang, PhD Candidate, Bren School

Jun 3 2024 | 12:30 pm PT Bren Hall 3526 (Pine) / Online

headshot of Haozhe Yang
Haozhe Yang



Advisor: Ranjit Deshmukh
Committee: Kyle Meng, Eric Masanet. Gang He

This defense will be presented in person at Bren. Join us in Bren Hall 3526 (Pine Room) or watch online using this link and passcode energy


My dissertation reveals and addresses socioeconomic challenges hindering the low-carbon transition. I quantify the spatiotemporal distribution of costs and benefits, and further examine how innovations in policy and technology mitigate the socioeconomic challenges towards a low-carbon energy system. The first chapter exposes the misallocation of costs and benefits from climate change mitigation. The second chapter highlights the economic disparity across generations under the Paris Agreement. The third chapter demonstrates that global transcontinental power pools achieve a reliable and affordable electricity system with 100% renewable energy. Transitioning to regional analysis, the fourth chapter finds that by decarbonizing China’s electricity sector, disparities in health impacts across provinces narrow as fossil fuels are phased out, whereas disparities in labor compensation widen. The last chapter showcases that the innovation of hydrogen technologies not only reduces the cost of a zero-carbon electricity system compared with a scenario without hydrogen, but also reduces the cost to decarbonize the energy system by replacing fossil fuels in hard-to-abate sectors. Overall, my dissertation underscores the need to address the socioeconomic challenges in the low-carbon transition of the energy system.


Haozhe graduated from Peking University with a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science and a double degree in Economics in 2016. In 2019, Haozhe obtained his Master's degree in Environmental Science at Peking University, and began his PhD journey at Bren. Throughout his doctoral program, Haozhe delves into the socioeconomic challenges of climate change mitigation. His research endeavors to address the most pressing problems in energy and climate. His work has been published in esteemed journals including Nature Communications. Upon graduation, Haozhe will join Princeton University as a postdoc.

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