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British Council COP26 Trilateral Research Initiative - A Software Framework for Optimal Decarbonisation Planning for ASEAN Countries

The project, funded by the British Council, seeks to develop a decision-making software framework, based on rigorous mathematical optimisation models, for planning the decarbonisation of ASEAN countries, in line with commitments made while signing the Paris Agreement (PA). The planning framework relies on a combination of proven, mature technologies such as the Carbon Emission Pinch Analysis (CEPA), developed by members of the project team over the past 10 years, and novel mathematical optimisation-based tools that provide rigorous guarantees on the qualities of the solution, subject to planning constraints such as budget, social resistance to uptake, efficiencies of interventions, and implementation time. The open-source software and planned impact activities ensure that the results and tools’ impact is maximised to help both governmental and industrial policymakers in ASEAN countries to identify achievable emissions targets and the optimal paths to achieve them through a range of technologies, interventions and budgetary and time constraints. The team will deliver significant outreach and engagement activities through multi-day workshops with project partners in emissions-intensive industries in Malaysia, as well as with government agencies to ensure that the software and solutions are data-driven, implementable and align with national strategies. The following objectives will be met:
1) Develop novel strategic planning mathematical optimisation models for decarbonisation of ASEAN nations. The flexible framework will account for diverse industries, technologies, and timescales, and is designed for extension to other economies and planning under uncertainty.
2) Generate realistic CO2 emissions targets for Malaysian case study. Using the model and government feedback, demonstrate approach on Malaysia focusing on energy, transportation and industrial sectors, which contribute over 80% of CO2 emissions in Malaysia, to determine realisable short- and long-term targets.
O3) Determine optimal decarbonisation strategies for ASEAN countries for each contributing industry, incorporating different technologies at varying technology-readiness levels (TRLs) and budgetary and uptake constraints.
4) Develop user-friendly open-source software for industry and government policymakers to plan long-term decarbonisation strategy.
5) Ensure tools and techniques have significant impact through a range of outreach and impact-delivery workshops and scientific publications, leaving a legacy of skills and scientific advances.

Expected impact

The project has the following deliverables, which link with the above UN SDGs:
1) A practical and implementable decision-making framework for planning of decarbonisation of ASEAN countries based on rigorous mathematical optimisation.
2) A powerful open-source software package, with well-documented user manuals and instructional videos demonstrating its capabilities.
3) A white paper delivering the results of case studies to the relevant governmental and industrial agencies, aimed at the COP26 delegates.
4) Engagement workshops with industry and government partners to demonstrate the approaches and software, guide future work, and increase skills in the ODA partner country through teaching life cycle assessment principles and mathematical optimisation by our international team of experts in these topics. In addition, we also anticipate the following outputs as part of the impact plan:
• 3 publications in high impact factor journals
• Delivery of the work at an international academic conference
Additionally, we have identified a plausible long-term pathway to impact including: Short term goals (2–3 years)
• Pursue additional funding via EPSRC and Newton/GCRF
• Use software framework for other ODA countries’ economies (ASEAN, Sub-Saharan Africa), including economy-specific aspects in framework to build library of technologies for ODA nations such as natural gas for sectors relying on coal, renewable energy generation (e.g. solar, wind), Waste-to-energy initiatives (e.g. landfill gas, palm oil mill effluent to biogas and biohydrogen), biochemicals (e.g. biomethanol), CCS technologies, NETs (e.g. direct air capture, bioenergy, ocean liming, biochar, enhanced weathering)
• Release GUI for software to ensure diverse policymakers can use software, generate relevant scenarios and understand and interpret results
• Expand optimisation framework to include planning under uncertainty explicitly, e.g. two stage stochastic programming
• Continue interaction with government and industrial partners to incorporate feedback, support software and skills, and maximising benefit to local community
• Educate graduate students and practitioners in Malaysia to use the tools, develop software, and build critical policy and technical skills
Medium term goals (4 – 15 years)
• Continue educating ODA members’ graduate students and develop UNM into regional hub for climate change policy and optimisation
• Expand the framework to include uncertainty in research and development strategic planning, allowing policymakers to see expected effects of investments in research for different technologies at varying TRLs
• Incorporate LCA so that other greenhouse gases, and imported carbon are included, providing a holistic view of intervention efficacy
• With additional funding, pursue an all-purpose strategic decarbonisation tool with characteristics including: Intuitive GUI for both experts and non-experts, Detailed database of many countries to assess a range of technological options, budgetary constraints, and risk levels, Create the premium strategic planning tool for policymakers and academics
• Commercialise software
We anticipate the software having a strong impact on climate change policymaking, and on ODA countries through the choice of case study, focus on ODA countries’ economies, and development of skills and revenue through long term commercialisation.


Goal 3
Goal 7
Goal 8
Goal 9
Goal 11
Goal 12
Goal 13
Goal 17
In-kind contribution
$39,000 in in-kind support from partners
Financing (in USD)
Staff / Technical expertise
We have funding and support from academics, industry and government agencies to implement the plan, obtain data, and report the results
Basic information
Start: 31 March, 2021
Completion: 31 March, 2022
University of Surrey (Academic institution)
University of Surrey (academic institution), University of Nottingham Malaysia (academic institution), University of Tokyo (academic institution), De La Salle University (academic institution), Monash University (academic institution), Malaysian Green Technology And Climate Change Centre (Government), Aria Ltd. (Private Sector), Various chemical/energy companies (Private Sector)
Initiative focused on COVID-19 pandemic response, prevention and recovery efforts
Geographical coverage
Asia and Pacific
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficiaries
Numerous energy, chemical and transportation companies in Malaysia including: Synthomer Sdn Bhd (UK company, with Malaysian subsidiaries in Pasir Gudang), Malay-Sino Chemicals Sdn Bhd (Ipoh), IOI Edible Oils Sdn Bhd (Sandakan), IOI Pan-Century Oleochemicals Sdn Bhd (Pasir Gudang), Palm-Oleo Sdn Bhd (Klang), Adirondack (M) Sdn Bhd (Petaling Jaya), Kerry Ingredients (M) Sdn Bhd (Tampoi), Lotte Chemical Titan Sdn Bhd (Pasir Gudang), Tenaga Nasional Berhad, YTL Power International Berhad, Prasarana Malaysia Berhad
Contact information
Michael Short, Dr, m.short@surrey.ac.uk, +44 7379439369
Guildford, United Kingdom
United Nations