Computer scenarios show that climate change can be stopped

While the world’s leading scientists on climate change published a report full of warnings this week, they continued to insist that the world still has a chance to prevent the worst consequences of climate change.

“It is still possible to prevent most of the terrible impacts, but it really requires an unprecedented transformation,” said Ko Barrett, vice president of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “I think the idea that there is still a way forward serves as a point that should give us hope.”
This promising path, on which dangerous changes in the climate world finally stop, is the product of huge computer simulations of the world economy. These are called integrated valuation models. There are several major versions of these computer estimates: four developed in Europe, one in Japan, and one in the United States.

“What we’re mostly doing is trying to explore what it takes to meet the goals of Paris.” says Detlef van Vuuren, from the Dutch Environmental Impact Assessment Agency, which developed one of the computer models.
How to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero in the next 40 years?

World leaders agreed in Paris to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius. The planet is already warming by about 1 degree Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
Achieving this goal means reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero within about 40 years. That would require profound changes.

That’s why some scientists have turned to their computer models for help. “How is it possible to go to zero show?” He answers. “It’s about transport, housing and electricity.
The models then try to meet that requirement in the most cost-effective way, as long as it is technologically feasible and does not match boundaries such as land supply or other resources.

The good news is that the models have found a way to achieve this goal, at least in scenarios in which world governments have been inclined to cooperate in fulfilling their obligations in Paris. In fact, according to Keivan Riahi, at the International Institute for Applied Systems in Austria, they found numerous paths to zero carbon.

Some models show people reacting to higher energy prices or government regulations by changing their lifestyle. They move into homes that save more energy and give up cars in favor of a new and better type of public transportation. In addition to traditional bus lines, autonomous vehicles like Uber – achieve the same effect, bringing people where they need them.

Scientist Riahi loves this version. “I am convinced that a fundamental restructuring on the demand side would also lead to a better quality of life,” he says.

Other scenarios show that people still consume a lot of energy, which in turn requires a huge increase in clean electricity production. This means 10 or 20 times more land covered by solar and wind power plants, compared to the current one, as well as more power plants in which wood or other biofuels are burned, equipped with equipment for capturing and storing carbon dioxide released by the wind.

Despite all their shortcomings, these models remain the main way in which scientists and policy makers find options for the future. They quantify trade-offs and consequences that may not be clearly visible. For example, if countries want to use wood or other natural materials as fuel, that means less land for growing food or natural forests. The models also clearly show that international cooperation is essential, with rich countries helping poorer countries reduce emissions.

The results of computer modeling are like maps that may now seem vague, but provide road maps that can help the world avoid a climate catastrophe.

The Environment-hub electronic platform is supported by HumanRightivism, managed by the CDF Community Development Fund, with the support of SIDA.