Economic Growth And Low Carbon Emissions Can Co-exist

Economy

A new study suggests that economic growth and carbon cuts may not be mutually exclusive, offering a chance to keep energy supplies flowing without adding to global warming.

It’s a question which goes to the heart of virtually any discussion about the future and the impact of climate change: how is it possible to maintain or increase energy supplies while at the same time cut back on CO2 emissions?

Faced with this dilemma, there are those who say the only course of action is to do away with the idea of economic growth – an argument that does not go down  well in many quarters. But a new study says the world can, in fact, have its cake and eat it – growth can continue and CO2 emissions can be cut.

The study, by the Energy Futures Lab and Grantham Institute of Climate Change at Imperial College, London, says the key is employing technology to radically decarbonise the world’s energy sector: this, say the researchers, can be accomplished with technologies that either currently exist on a commercial scale, have been demonstrated to work or are still awaiting full-scale deployment.

The study states the present position: the world needs to limit the overall global temperature to around 2°C above pre-industrial levels by 2050 in order to avoid the more serious impacts of climate change. That means a wholesale cut in fossil fuel use and a big reduction in CO2 emissions – from around a global total of 31 gigatonnes (Gt) per year at present to about 15 Gt per year in 2050.
Fundamental importance

The trouble is we are going the wrong way: on present projections – and barring a cataclysmic meltdown of the world economy – fossil fuel consumption will increase by 50% between now and 2050 and CO2 emissions could rise to 50Gt per year or more. This would result in higher global temperatures and possible runaway climate change.

The study divided the world into ten geographical regions and, in each area, projected both economic output and population growth to 2050. The global population is likely to grow to more than nine billion, say the researchers, while real per capita incomes will almost treble.

 Decarbonising the world’s electricity generation system is fundamental says the study: the large-scale development and commercial deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS), biomass, solar, wind and nuclear sources should be high on every government’s agenda.

“…With challenging but feasible penetrations of low-carbon technologies, an energy and industrial system transformation is possible…”, says the study. It focuses on three sectors:  industry, buildings and transport.

It says: “…There needs to be a shift towards electrification of industrial manufacturing processes, building heating systems and vehicle propulsion systems.

“A range of technologies will be required to achieve this, including increased penetrations of electric arc furnaces in steelmaking, heat pumps in buildings and battery electric and hybrid vehicles in road transport.

“Considerable investment in developing new technologies, with associated infrastructure, needs to begin now in order to enable the penetrations of these technologies that are required by 2050.”
 Achievable goals

The study admits that all this will be very challenging in technological, operational, social and political terms. For example, achieving targets for bioenergy would require the use of nearly 9% of the world’s total arable and pasture lands.

The goal is achievable – and affordable – says the study. Its analysis indicates the transition to a low carbon energy future would cost about US$2 trillion a year by 2050. While that figure might seem large, the researchers point out it would amount to only about one per cent of global gross domestic product, based on projected 2050 GDP figures.

Whether or not the planners and politicians will take heed of the study’s findings is the big question.  In 2006 the Stern Review examined the impact of climate change, warning of the escalating costs in economic terms of not taking action to limit greenhouse gas emissions.  In May this year CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere reached 400 parts per million, a level generally considered to be the highest for more than four million years. – Climate News Network

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

LATEST VIDEOS

The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
by Super User
The climate crisis is forcing thousands around the world to flee as their homes become increasingly uninhabitable.
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
by Alan N Williams, et al
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that without a substantial decrease…
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
by Toby Tyrrell
It took evolution 3 or 4 billion years to produce Homo sapiens. If the climate had completely failed just once in that…
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
by Brice Rea
The end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago, was characterised by a final cold phase called the Younger Dryas.…
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
by Frank Wesselingh and Matteo Lattuada
Imagine you are on the coast, looking out to sea. In front of you lies 100 metres of barren sand that looks like a…
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
by Richard Ernst
We can learn a lot about climate change from Venus, our sister planet. Venus currently has a surface temperature of…
Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
The Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
by John Cook
This video is a crash course in climate misinformation, summarizing the key arguments used to cast doubt on the reality…
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
by Julie Brigham-Grette and Steve Petsch
Every year, sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean shrinks to a low point in mid-September. This year it measures just 1.44…

LATEST ARTICLES

3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
by Bart Johnson, Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon
A wildfire burning in hot, dry mountain forest swept through the Gold Rush town of Greenville, California, on Aug. 4,…
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
by Alvin Lin
At the Leader’s Climate Summit in April, Xi Jinping pledged that China will “strictly control coal-fired power…
A plane drops red fire retardant on to a forest fire as firefighters parked along a road look up into the orange sky
Model predicts 10-year burst of wildfire, then gradual decline
by Hannah Hickey-U. Washington
A look at the long-term future of wildfires predicts an initial roughly decade-long burst of wildfire activity,…
Blue water surrounded by dead white grass
Map tracks 30 years of extreme snowmelt across US
by Mikayla Mace-Arizona
A new map of extreme snowmelt events over the last 30 years clarifies the processes that drive rapid melting.
White sea ice in blue water with the sun setting reflected in the water
Earth’s frozen areas are shrinking 33K square miles a year
by Texas A&M University
The Earth’s cryosphere is shrinking by 33,000 square miles (87,000 square kilometers) per year.
A row of male and female speakers at microphones
234 scientists read 14,000+ research papers to write the upcoming IPCC climate report
by Stephanie Spera, Assistant Professor of Geography and the Environment, University of Richmond
This week, hundreds of scientists from around the world are finalizing a report that assesses the state of the global…
A brown weasel with a white belly leans on a rock and looks over its shoulder
Once common weasels are doing a vanishing act
by Laura Oleniacz - NC State
Three species of weasels, once common in North America, are likely in decline, including a species that’s considered…
Flood risk will rise as climate heat intensifies
by Tim Radford
A warmer world will be a wetter one. Ever more people will face a higher flood risk as rivers rise and city streets…

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.