Decarbonization is the process of removing carbon from a system. When that system is a nation's carbon emissions, decarbonization is highly complex and understanding its many facets is challenging. To understand the challenges, implications, and benefits of decarbonization for a country requires in-depth examination of current data and developing future emission scenarios. A major barrier to teaching and learning about decarbonization is that emissions data must be assembled from myriad sources, with often varying reporting years, emission sectors, and structures to the data.
We created Decarbonization Studio, an online R shiny application, with the goal of efficiently merging these various data sets in order to provide a platform for student-led discovery. The app gives students direct access to information on emissions by sector, over time, by country, as a function of what we get from activities driving those emissions -- wealth, energy, food, etc. This emphasis on not just emissions but the activities that incur emissions helps focus student's attention on examining what's important, what's possible, and what it might cost for a country to decarbonize.
Designed with the R coding language's Shiny library for web development, it allows for easy and interactive data visualizations, manipulation, and user inputs. This allows students to view and manipulate data pertaining to emissions and resultant climate change. Students are assigned a country and tasked with first predicting future aspirations and wealth of that country, then second, determining the decarbonization potential based on those aspirational goals. This culminates in a mock negotiation where students present the decarbonization plans for their countries. Student decarbonization plans additionally provide an opportunity for understanding and exploring student learning and researching what are effective decarbonization plans.