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Paulina Jaramillo

Professor of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University
Chapter Member: Central Pennsylvania SSN
Areas of Expertise:

About Paulina

Jaramillo’s past research focused on the life cycle assessment of energy systems with an emphasis on climate change impacts and mitigation research. Jaramillo is currently involved in multi-disciplinary research projects to better understand the social, economic, and environmental implications of transitions in the Global energy system. Jaramillo served as a coordinating lead author for the IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report as part of Working Group III and is a current member of the NAS Roundtable on Macroeconomic and Climate-related Risks and Opportunities. She is also the co-director of the Open Energy Outlook Initiative, which produces policy-relevant research.

In the News

"Fueling Change: Understanding the Impacts of the Proposed Rule for Hydrogen Tax Credits on Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the US Energy Sector," Paulina Jaramillo (with Mike Blackhurst, Jeremiah Johnson, Anderson de Queiroz, Cameron Wade, and and Aditya Sinha), Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, February 28, 2024.
Paulina Jaramillo quoted on the potential benefits of implementing hydropower in sub-Saharan Africa by YCC Team, "Hydropower Could Provide Electricity to More People in Sub-Saharan Africa" Yale Climate Connections, December 8, 2022.
Paulina Jaramillo quoted on Henry Ford's vision for urban development and renewable energy by Bill Gourgey, "Why Hasn’t Henry Ford’s Ideal Power Grid Become a Reality?" Popular Science, July 27, 2022.
Paulina Jaramillo quoted on the EPA's ability to regulate emissions from coal plants vs. gas plants by Benjamin Storrow, "Hope Dims That the U.S. Can Meet 2030 Climate Goals" Scientific American, July 8, 2022.
Paulina Jaramillo quoted on the importance of hydrogen as a clean alternative for various industries by Reid Frazier, "Hydrogen May Be a Climate Solution. There’s Debate Over How Clean It Will Truly Be" NPR, May 27, 2022.
Interview on IPCC's working group 3 report, “mitigation of climate change” Paulina Jaramillo (with David Roberts), Volts Podcast, April 13, 2022.


"Diverse Decarbonization Pathways Under Near Cost-Optimal Futures," (with Aditya Sinha, Aranya Venkatesh, Katherine Jordan, Cameron Wade, Hadi Eshraghi, Anderson de Queiroz, and Jeremiah Johnson), Preprint available at Research Square, 2023.

Uses modeling techniques to generate a diverse array of near cost-optimal net-zero CO2 pathways for the United States’ energy system. Findings demonstrate that diverse pathways for deep decarbonization exist at comparable system-level costs, providing insights into the portfolio of technologies that enable a near cost-optimal net-zero CO2 future.

"Closing the Gap: Achieving U.S. Climate Goals Beyond the Inflation Reduction Act" (with Katherine Jordan, Peter Adams, and Nicholas Muller). Renewable and Sustainable Energy Transition 4 (2023).

Discusses the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and its insufficiency in meeting the United States' climate goals. Utilizes an energy system optimization model to explore additional policies, including carbon taxes and efficiency standards, aimed at achieving greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions. Findings show that while these policies align with the nation's climate goals outlined in the Paris Agreement, none achieve net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. The results suggest that meeting climate targets will require rapid deployment of zero-emission technologies across the energy system.

"Policy Spillovers, Technological Lock-In, and Efficiency Gains From Regional Pollution Taxes in the U.S." (with Michael Buchdahl Roth, Peter J Adams, and Nicholas Z Muller). Energy and Climate Change 3 (2022).

Explores policy spillovers, technological lock-in, and efficiency gains from regional pollution taxes in the U.S. energy and climate change context. Findings show that local air pollutant (LAP) and carbon dioxide (CO2) taxes lead to similar levels of decarbonization, with LAP taxes resulting in increased natural gas generation and reduced coal generation in the electric sector, while CO2 taxes lead to increased generation from wind and solar energy.

"An Open Energy Outlook: Decarbonization Pathways for the USA," (with Aranya Venkatesh, Katherine Jordan, Aditya Sinha, and Jeremiah Johnson), Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University and North Carolina State University, September 2022.

Summarizes a model-based analysis that identifies the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. energy sector under different scenarios and identifies near-optimal feasible pathways to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

"Transport" (with Suzana Kahn Ribeiro, Peter Newman, Subash Dhar, and Ogheneruona E. Diemuodeke et al.), in Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change. Working Group III Contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, edited by Priyadarshi R. Shukla, Jim Skea, Raphael Slade, Roger Fradera et al. (Cambridge University Press, 2022).

Examines the transport sector’s role in climate change mitigation. Appraises the transport system’s interactions beyond the technology of vehicles and fuels to include the full lifecycle analysis of mitigation options, a review of enabling conditions, and metrics that can facilitate advancing transport decarbonisation goals. Assesses the future trajectories emerging from global, energy, and national scenarios and concludes with a discussion on enabling conditions for transformative change in the sector.

"Climate-Induced Tradeoffs in Planning and Operating Costs of a Regional Electricity System" (with Francisco Ralston Fonseca, Michael Craig, Mario Bergés, Edson Severnini, Aviva Loew, Haibo Zhai, Yifan Cheng, Bart Nijssen, Nathalie Voisin, and John Yearsley). Environmental Science & Technology 55, no. 16 (2021): 11204-11215.

Discusses the impact of climate change on electricity grid planning in the Southeast U.S. in 2050, and highlights the potential threat of climate-induced impacts on the reliability and affordability of supplying electricity. Findings suggest that neglecting climate-induced impacts in planning increases social costs due to capacity issues, emphasizing the need to consider climate effects in planning decisions.

"Leveraging Open-Source Tools for Collaborative Macro-Energy System Modeling Efforts" (with Joseph F. DeCarolis, Jeremiah X. Johnson, David L. McCollum, and Evelina Trutnevyte et al.). Joule 4, no. 12 (2020): 2523-2526.

Describes efforts to apply best practices of policy-focused energy system modeling, ensure transparency, build a networked community, and work toward a common purpose: examining possible US energy system futures to inform energy and climate policy efforts.

"Going Nuclear for Climate Mitigation: An Analysis of the Cost Effectiveness of Preserving Existing U.S. Nuclear Power Plants as a Carbon Avoidance Strategy" (with Michael Buchdahl Roth). Energy 131 (2017): 67-77.

Highlights the importance of nuclear power plants in providing carbon-free electricity in the United States, and notes that many of these plants are facing the risk of early closure due to the availability of cheaper natural gas and increased low-cost renewables, which could lead to an increase in CO2 emissions even as states aim to comply with EPA regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. Demonstrates that preventing nuclear plant retirements is a cost-effective carbon avoidance strategy for the U.S. energy system.

"Implications of Environmental Regulation and Coal Plant Retirements in Systems With Large Scale Penetration of Wind Power" (with Mohsen Rahmani and Gabriela Hug). Energy Policy 95 (2016): 196-210.

Discusses the impact of recent regulations targeting air emissions and renewable energy deployment on power plant operations. Notes that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations may lead to changes in coal-fired plants, while state Renewable Portfolio Standards drive renewable energy deployment. Analyzes PJM system operations under various scenarios, and finds that coal plant retirements without transmission upgrades could cause congestion and higher prices. Suggests that increased wind power, with geographic diversity, may mitigate these effects.