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World can meet climate targets and live well, finds government initiative



The world can cut carbon emissions and limit global temperature increase to 2C whilst still prospering and maintaining lifestyles, according to new online tool the Global Calculator, a project led by the UK government.

The initiative uses data reviewed by over 150 international experts and concludes that the world can eat well, travel more and live in more comfortable homes whilst still tackling climate change and ensuring that the worst impacts are avoided. The tool takes into account the rising global population, which is set to reach 10 billion by 2050, and finds that it is physically possible for everyone to have a good standard of living whilst living sustainably.

Energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey said, “For the first time this Global Calculator shows that everyone in the world can prosper while limiting global temperature rises to 2C, preventing the most serious impacts of climate change.

“Yet the calculator is also very clear that we must act now to change how we use and generate energy and how we use our land if we are going to achieve this green growth.”

A report showing insights from the Global Calculator explains that to achieve a prosperous and sustainable world by 2050 we need to transform the technologies and fuel we use. For example, the amount of CO2 emitted per unit of electricity globally needs to fall by at least 90% by mid-century.

The ways we use the world’s land resources also needs to be drastically changed. The tool finds that we must protect and expand forests globally by around 5-15% by 2050 because forests act as a valuable “carbon sink”.

The report acknowledges that making the transition to a low-carbon global economy will “require a massive effort across all sectors and action must start urgently”. It calls on governments and business leaders to ramp up the take up of clean technologies.

Dr Mike Cherrett, director of operations and international partnerships at Climate-KIC, which co-funded the project, added that the calculator clearly shows that ambitious climate targets can be met whilst maintaining good lifestyles.

“The challenge to find new commercially-viable business models is considerable – but for those organisations who succeed, the reward is even greater. The calculator provides a framework for policymakers and business leader to create an environment where this is possible,” Cherrett explained.

Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Flickr 

Further reading:

World needs to sustainably produce 70% more food by 2050

IEA: solar could be largest electricity source by 2050

Massive emission reductions needed by 2050 to limit climate change damage, reports UN

Unsustainable population rise is unstoppable, scientists warn

IPCC findings demand investment in a sustainable future, say investors