Guest essay by Eric Worrall
A new paper claims more shared development goals and less emphasis on wealth creation is the key to solving climate change.
Economic Equality Is Key to Solving Climate Change, Report Shows
By Jeremy Hodges
6 March 2018, 02:00 GMT+10
Economies need to reduce inequality and promote sustainable development for the world to avert the perils of runaway global warming, according to new research.
The risk of missing emissions targets increased dramatically under economic scenarios that emphasizes high inequality and growth powered by fossil fuels, according to research published Monday by a team of scientists in the peer-reviewed Nature Climate Change journal.
“Climate change is far from the only issue we as a society are concerned about” said Joeri Rogelj, the paper’s lead author and a research scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis outside of Vienna. “We have to understand how these many goals can be achieved simultaneously. With this study, we show the enormous value of pursuing sustainable development for ambitious climate goals in line with the Paris Agreement,” he said.
The abstract of the paper;
The shared socioeconomic pathways and their energy, land use, and greenhouse gas emissions implications: An overview
This paper presents the overview of the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) and their energy, land use, and emissions implications. The SSPs are part of a new scenario framework, established by the climate change research community in order to facilitate the integrated analysis of future climate impacts, vulnerabilities, adaptation, and mitigation. The pathways were developed over the last years as a joint community effort and describe plausible major global developments that together would lead in the future to different challenges for mitigation and adaptation to climate change. The SSPs are based on five narratives describing alternative socio-economic developments, including sustainable development, regional rivalry, inequality, fossil-fueled development, and a middle-of-the-road development. The long-term demographic and economic projections of the SSPs depict a wide uncertainty range consistent with the scenario literature. A multi-model approach was used for the elaboration of the energy, land-use and the emissions trajectories of SSP-based scenarios. The baseline scenarios lead to global energy consumption of 500-1100 EJ in 2100, and feature vastly different land-use dynamics, ranging from a possible reduction in cropland area up to a massive expansion by more than 700 million hectares by 2100. The associated annual CO2 emissions of the baseline scenarios range from about 25 GtCO2 to more than 120 GtCO2 per year by 2100. With respect to mitigation, we find that associated costs strongly depend on three factors: 1) the policy assumptions, 2) the socio-economic narrative, and 3) the stringency of the target. The carbon price for reaching the target of 2.6 W/m2 differs in our analysis thus by about a factor of three across the SSP scenarios. Moreover, many models could not reach this target from the SSPs with high mitigation challenges. While the SSPs were designed to represent different mitigation and adaptation challenges, the resulting narratives and quantifications span a wide range of different futures broadly representative of the current literature. This allows their subsequent use and development in new assessments and research projects. Critical next steps for the community scenario process will, among others, involve regional and sectorial extensions, further elaboration of the adaptation and impacts dimension, as well as employing the SSP scenarios with the new generation of earth system models as part of the 6th climate model intercomparison project (CMIP6).
Read more: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/id/eprint/13280/
The paper is a little coy about what they mean by “shared socioeconomic pathways”, but the following description of their favoured scenario caught my eye;
… SSP1 Sustainability – Taking the Green Road (Low challenges to mitigation and adaptation)
The world shifts gradually, but pervasively, toward a more sustainable path, emphasizing more inclusive development that respects perceived environmental boundaries. Management of the global commons slowly improves, educational and health investments accelerate the demographic transition, and the emphasis on economic growth shifts toward a broader emphasis on human well-being. Driven by an increasing commitment to achieving development goals, inequality is reduced both across and within countries. Consumption is oriented toward low material growth and lower resource and energy intensity. …
Read more: Same link as above
The paper has a point – there is no doubt if the world killed off prosperity and rapid economic growth, CO2 emissions would stop rising. If we all lived like people do in places like Cuba and Venezuela, places which have de-emphasised material concerns like financial security and having enough to eat, our global carbon footprint would be substantially reduced.