In a comment upon an earlier post Richard Murphy tells me this:
Where’s the evidence of concensus we can grow 11 times, contain CO2 and do this whilst running out of oil?
There is none – it’s your fantasy.
Well Richard, that\’s not actually what I said. What I said was:
For the scientific consensus is that the economy will grow between 5 and 11 times in this coming century. That scientific consensus telling us that as long as we can reduce CO2 output (which we clearly and obviously can, as the scientific consensus also tells us) everything is going to be just hunky dory.
What is it about Greens that they refuse to read or understand the scientific consensus? The IPCC reports themselves?
And the clue would have been in the link I gave there, to the SRES. That is, the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios.
Now, I\’ll take this a little slowly, for people like Richard and Caroline Lucas who appear to have comprehension problems.
We\’ve had thousands of scientists working for nigh on a couple of decades now trying to look at this problem of climate change. Their ruminations are collected in a series of reports, commonly known as the IPCC reports, the latest of which is actually called AR4.
This is indeed the scientific consensus on the matter. This is the groups of scientists, the series of reports, that recently shared the Nobel Prize with Al Gore.
No, this isn\’t some cabal of right wing nutters (and, for the more excitable of some of my readers, nor is it a cabal of left wing nutters either). This is it, the scientific consensus.
Now, the basic structure of the way they\’ve done their work is that they\’ve run likely future emissions scenarios through a variety of different models of the climate and the way in which different factors interact. This is what gives us estimate for future temperature rises, sea level rises, droughts, floods and all the rest.
With me so far?
Now, in order to get an idea of what future emissions paths are going to be it is necessary to come up with some economic models. You need to know how many people, at what level of wealth and using what technologies there will be so that you can estimate emissions. This is what is then fed into climate models. This all seems rather logical, no?
Those economic models are that SRES. These models are actually considered sufficiently robust that they\’ve not been revised since 2000. Both of the last IPCC reports were based entirely on the projections of emissions from these models. Within the science of climate change these are not now matters of concern or doubt: they are the very basis upon which all of the rest of the structure rests.
Now, these various models are actually broken up in a number of different ways. There are in total 40 scenarios: a scenario is one specific projection of population, wealth (or rather GDP and thus value added but let that slide) and the technology path. It\’s the technologies which really define the differences between scenarios, all of them fitting into one of four families. The families are distinguished by different populations and different levels of wealth. A scenario in essence applies a technological path to the underlying structure of a family.
Everyone still with me?
The families also have a backstory, a rough guide to what would lead to such populations and wealth. In shorthand (and this is a part which might be considered arguable) we have A and B and 1 and 2. A roughly and readily denotes a capitalist world, B a world with greater attention paid to equity, the distribution of production and consumption. 1 denotes a globalised world, 2 one with more regional and localised economies.
We can thus have the A1 family, capitalist and globalised, or the A2, captialist and localised. Just as an example, it is A2 which the Stern Review used as the basis of his projections (I told you these models were the basis of it all, didn\’t I?). B1 is more equitable and globalised, B2 is equitable and localised.
We then go on to the specific scenarios so we might get one like A1T, a specific technological path within the A1 family. We\’ll come back to that model in a little bit.
One thing that it is absolutely essential to understand. None of the scenarios, none of the families, include any attempts to either mitigate or adapt to climate change. All are pointing to results without carbon taxes, cap and trade, bans, restrictions, and all of the rest.
Right, so, what do the four families rest upon as the basics of the economics of that future world (s)?
- Strong commitment to market-based solutions.
- High savings and commitment to education at the household level.
- High rates of investment and innovation in education, technology, and institutions at the national and international levels.
- International mobility of people, ideas, and technology.
As I said above, a rough and ready description would be globalised capitalism. What happens next?
In the A1 scenario family, demographic and economic trends are closely linked, as affluence is correlated with long life and small families (low mortality and low fertility). Global population grows to some nine billion by 2050 and declines to about seven billion by 2100. Average age increases, with the needs of retired people met mainly through their accumulated savings in private pension systems.
The global economy expands at an average annual rate of about 3% to 2100, reaching around US$550 trillion (all dollar amounts herein are expressed in 1990 dollars, unless stated otherwise). This is approximately the same as average global growth since 1850, although the conditions that lead to this global growth in productivity and per capita incomes in the scenario are unparalleled in history.
OK, given a current world GDP of around $50 trillion, there\’s our 11 times the current economy. Note again, please, this isn\’t me or some weird offshoot of the libertarians, this is the basic economic model (or one of them) upon which the entire IPCC process is based.
The A2 scenario family represents a differentiated world. Compared to the A1 storyline it is characterized by lower trade flows, relatively slow capital stock turnover, and slower technological change. The A2 world \”consolidates\” into a series of economic regions. Self-reliance in terms of resources and less emphasis on economic, social, and cultural interactions between regions are characteristic for this future. Economic growth is uneven and the income gap between now-industrialized and developing parts of the world does not narrow, unlike in the A1 and B1 scenario families.
As I said, capitalism and regionalism. The results?
The A2 world has less international cooperation than the A1 or B1 worlds. People, ideas, and capital are less mobile so that technology diffuses more slowly than in the other scenario families. International disparities in productivity, and hence income per capita, are largely maintained or increased in absolute terms. With the emphasis on family and community life, fertility rates decline relatively slowly, which makes the A2 population the largest among the storylines (15 billion by 2100). Global average per capita income in A2 is low relative to other storylines (especially A1 and B1), reaching about US$7200 per capita by 2050 and US$16,000 in 2100. By 2100 the global GDP reaches about US$250 trillion.
There\’s our five times current global GDP.
Economic development in B1 is balanced, and efforts to achieve equitable income distribution are effective. As in A1, the B1 storyline describes a fast-changing and convergent world, but the priorities differ. Whereas the A1 world invests its gains from increased productivity and know-how primarily in further economic growth, the B1 world invests a large part of its gains in improved efficiency of resource use (\”dematerialization\”), equity, social institutions, and environmental protection.
Globalisation and equity.
The demographic transition to low mortality and fertility occurs at the same rate as in A1, but for different reasons as it is motivated partly by social and environmental concerns. Global population reaches nine billion by 2050 and declines to about seven billion by 2100. This is a world with high levels of economic activity (a global GDP of around US$350 trillion by 2100) and significant and deliberate progress toward international and national income equality.
That\’s 7 times current global GDP then.
The B2 world is one of increased concern for environmental and social sustainability compared to the A2 storyline. Increasingly, government policies and business strategies at the national and local levels are influenced by environmentally aware citizens, with a trend toward local self-reliance and stronger communities. International institutions decline in importance, with a shift toward local and regional decision-making structures and institutions. Human welfare, equality, and environmental protection all have high priority, and they are addressed through community-based social solutions in addition to technical solutions, although implementation rates vary across regions.
Localisation and equity.
Education and welfare programs are pursued widely, which reduces mortality and, to a lesser extent, fertility. The population reaches about 10 billion people by 2100, consistent with both the UN and IIASA median projections. Income per capita grows at an intermediate rate to reach about US$12,000 by 2050. By 2100 the global economy might expand to reach some US$250 trillion. International income differences decrease, although not as rapidly as in storylines of higher global convergence.
And again, five times current global GDP.
So, that\’s the scientific consensus on what future growth paths for the global economy might look like. We all might complain that our estimate isn\’t in there but these are indeed what the IPCC is using to scare the Bejasus out of us about sea levels rising 70 metres sometime around 2,800 AD. Maybe.
So the scientific consensus clearly is assuming that we can indeed grow the economy by five to eleven times by 2100. They\’re not just clearly assuming it, they have assumed it.
I\’ll take that as rather more proof than \”There is none – it’s your fantasy.\”
As to the oil running out, well, again, my original statement was about the scientific consensus, which the SRES is: and it doesn\’t mention the oil running out. So the scientific consensus is that the oil isn\’t about to run out.
Finally, there\’s the bringing the CO2 (and CO2-e) emissions under control.
If we look at cumulative emissions, Chapter 5.1 gives us those from all of the different scenarios. The perceptive will note that all of the low emission scenarios are globalised: from the A1 and B1 families. This does rather make a mockery of Caroline Lucas and her insistience that we need more localised, regional, economies to beat climate change.
Which brings us right back to the A1T scenario mentioned above. This has (Table 4-20) one of the lowest cumulative emissions of all of the scenarios.
So there we have it, the evidence of the scientific consensus. We can indeed grow 11 times and contain CO2. For all of the above is in fact the scientific consensus, the basis for the IPCC report that shows that we\’re at risk of having dangerous levels of climate change.
My own view (note, this is my view, not the IPCC\’s) is that we really ought to take note of what they\’ve been saying. Clearly, a global economy is better in terms of climate change than a non-global one. We should, therefore, in the name of defeating climate change, move as swiftly as possible to a fully globalised economy.
We should also whack a carbon tax upon emissions and reduce other taxes to keep gross revenue neutral. And there we are, job done. But as I say, that is my view: everything except these last three paragraphs is the scientific consensus on the economy of climate change. Yes, we can grow 11 times and constrain CO2.
Richard, you may apologise to me for accusing me of fantasy if you should so wish.