Written by Simon Evans for The Carbon Brief
The world’s population could live a prosperous, European-style lifestyle by 2050 at the same time as avoiding dangerous climate change, according to a new Global Calculator developed by the UK’s Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
The online tool shows how global prosperity can increase, even as emissions fall by 60 per cent from current levels in line with climate targets. This feat, according to the calculator, would require a series of massive changes to how we use energy, such as a shift from fossil fuels towards nuclear and renewables, and much wider use of electric heat and transport.
DECC’s tool shows this transition might be slightly more, or slightly less expensive than the cost of doing nothing to tackle emissions. Either way, the difference in costs would be minimal, relative to expected growth in global wealth.
The new global tool has already been used by organisations, including DECC, Shell, the International Energy Agency and Friends of the Earth, to imagine the world in 2050. However, not all of these future scenarios are compatible with a safe climate.
Carbon Brief takes you through the nuts and bolts of the tool, DECC’s version of a prosperous two-degrees world and how the calculator can be used to compare competing visions of the future within a common frame of reference.
How the tool works
Anyone can use the web-based Global Calculator tool to model the world in 2050, by making a series of choices about lifestyle (such as diet and appliance use), transport, buildings, industry, land use and energy. The tool then shows whether these choices are consistent with meeting the internationally agreed target to limit warming to two degrees above pre-industrial temperatures.
The summary dashboard for DECC’s Global Calculator. Credit: globalcalculator.org