Low carbon societies can become a reality because technically and economically it is possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, say scientists from nine countries who researched the issue on behalf of the G8. They say that reducing global carbon emissions by half by 2050 is feasible if clever models are applied and outlined details of three extensive models in a peer reviewed article in Climate Policy.
The article examined the plausible visions for a low-carbon society, what options exist to achieve the transition to a low-carbon society, and the implications of those different options. The study was organized by the governments of the UK and Japan, who chaired the G8 meetings of 2005 and 2008. The study defined a Low Carbon Society as ‚Äòone that will make an equitable contribution to the global effort of reducing greenhouse gases to a safe level combining both a high level of energy efficiency and security’.
The teams of researchers reviewed three different models outlining future scenarios for climate change, including plans that are currently on the table at the next G8 summit in Japan. That scenario includes the proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2050 from 1990 levels. That was the target set by the 2007 G8 summit in Heiligendamm, which corresponds to the more stringent stabilization pathways envisioned by UN experts, but which so far have been subject to relatively little scenario analysis.
The exercise used a range of global and national energy models; macroeconomic, technology focused and hybrid approaches. Each model investigated at least three scenarios: a Base case, a Carbon price case (rising to $100/tCO2 by 2050), and one or more Carbon-plus cases to analyse what additional measures may be needed to achieve a LCS scenario consistent with a 50% reduction in global CO2 emissions by 2050.
The scientists address the levels of technological progress and complementary behavioural change needed to achieve a low-carbon society; issues relating to timing of actions and the role of emissions targets; the economic costs and benefits of different pathways to a low-carbon society.
“We believe that the results of this international modelling exercise will be valuable to national and international policy-makers and can usefully inform the discussions on the Gleneagles Dialogue during Japan’s G8 Presidency”, said Dr. Jim Skea, Research Director of the UK Energy Research Centre, a participating organization.
The G8 Summit groups the leaders of the world’s richest countries together to discuss energy issues, environment and climate change related topics. The Japan summit will follow up from discussions held in Gleneagles (Scotland, UK) in 2005. The next G8 meeting is scheduled for 8 and 9 July with energy, the environment and climate change topping the agenda. The Japanese-British study is one of the few that combines economics and environmentalist opinions and it very is similar to the work of the British economist Sir Nicholas Stern, author of the 2006 Stern Report. That report shocked the world of economists in particular because it controversially asserted that the world economy would shrink by 20% due to the effects of global warming.
The researchers focused their efforts on developing countries and said that these countries will move toward low carbon status, in line with their projected economic growth and with the help of international co-operation, finance and technological expertise. “If developed countries can create and work towards clear and possible visions of Low Carbon Societies, it will make it easier for developing countries to follow a low carbon pathway” noted Dr Junichi Fujino, a Japanese researcher from the National Institute for Environmental Studies. “Preferred Low Carbon Society pathways require clear target setting, and iterative cooperation across international borders and in all economic sectors” said Dr Neil Strachan, Senior Research Fellow at King’s College London.
Stern, who is in talks with many government leaders about their climate plans, recently wrote a landmark document outlining what a possible global climate deal would entail, entitled Key Elements of a Global Deal on Climate Change.
In a recent interview with Prospect Magazine, he said that he is in active talks with various government leaders about a global climate deal, including the Prime Ministers of Denmark, India and Australia. Stern will also testify a second time before US congress in the near future and additionally he also is a regular advisor to the British government and various European governments.