Climate Change: Wealthy Countries Need To Change Their Lifestyles To Reduce Emissions | The Examiner

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An international team of scientists says we cannot rely on technology to meet climate goals – instead, wealthy countries must change their lifestyles to drastically reduce emissions and avoid climate change. The new article, published in Nature Energy, calls for the urgent development of new climate models that examine how economies can remain stable without continually growing and reduce reliance on potentially impracticable new technologies to solve our problems. “We cannot keep the temperature rise below 1.5 degrees with technology alone – unfortunately that requires a change in lifestyle in affluent countries,” says Manfred Lenzen from the University of Sydney, co-author of the study. “Because we have not made any significant emissions reductions in the last few decades, even though we should have done so, we now have to reduce emissions more quickly than ever before.” Models try to predict future temperatures and climates based on current data and simulations; they can pursue a variety of routes to different outcomes based on our decisions now. Many of these current models accept that economies will continue to strive for growth and take into account dramatic technological changes to meet climate goals like the Paris Agreement. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, for example, argues that innovative technologies are essential not only for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but also for adapting to the effects of climate change. However, this new study argues that technological fixes – like carbon capture and storage, nuclear fusion, or the introduction of particles into the atmosphere – may not be scalable to the required level, especially as increasing economic growth increases energy demand. The authors suggest that in order to remove carbon from the atmosphere quickly enough, direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS) methods can consume up to half of current global electricity generation. This would then make the global transition to renewable energies more difficult. “Scientists have raised significant questions about the risks of negative emissions technologies and the possibility of sufficiently decoupling economic growth from rising emissions,” said Jason Hickel, lead author of the paper at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). “To be clear, these approaches may not be enough to cope with the crisis we are facing. We are playing with the future of humanity and the rest of life on earth, assuming that rich countries’ GDP needs to keep growing. ”This echoes previous research that argued that over-reliance on new technology is us enables a dramatic reduction in emissions to be delayed, leading to a dangerous cycle of technological promises and newly formulated climate protection goals. Instead, scientists are calling for a comprehensive cultural, social and political transformation. “It doesn’t have to be,” write Hickel and colleagues. “High income nations can maintain economic stability, invest in innovation, and achieve strong social outcomes without the need for additional growth, which makes mitigation easier to achieve.” Instead, they propose policies that reduce inequality, guarantee living wages, shorten the working week and ensure access to health care, education and other basic services. “If we distribute the proceeds of our economy more equitably, we can ensure a good life for everyone without plundering the planet for more,” says Hickel. By updating existing climate models to include alternative ‘post-growth’ scenarios, the authors would conclude that this would help “broaden the range of policy options for public debate”.

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An international team of scientists says we cannot rely on technology to meet climate goals – instead, wealthy countries must change their lifestyles to drastically reduce emissions and avoid climate change.

The new article, published in Nature Energy, calls for the urgent development of new climate models that examine how economies can remain stable without constantly growing and reduce reliance on potentially impractical new technologies to solve our problems.

“We cannot keep the temperature rise below 1.5 degrees with technology alone – unfortunately that requires a change in lifestyle in affluent countries,” says Manfred Lenzen from the University of Sydney, co-author of the study.

“Because we have not made any significant emissions reductions in the last few decades, even though we should have done so, we now have to reduce emissions more quickly than ever before.”

Models try to predict future temperatures and climates based on current data and simulations; they can pursue a variety of routes to different outcomes based on our decisions now.

Many of these current models accept that economies will continue to strive for growth and take into account dramatic technological changes to meet climate goals like the Paris Agreement.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, for example, argues that innovative technologies are essential not only for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but also for adapting to the effects of climate change.

However, this new study argues that technological fixes – like carbon capture and storage, nuclear fusion, or the introduction of particles into the atmosphere – may not be scalable to the required levels, especially as increasing economic growth increases energy demand.

The authors suggest that in order to remove carbon from the atmosphere quickly enough, direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS) methods can use up to half of current global electricity generation. This would then make the global transition to renewable energies more difficult.

“Scientists have raised significant questions about the risks of negative emissions technologies and the possibility of sufficiently decoupling economic growth from rising emissions,” said Jason Hickel, lead author of the paper at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

“To be clear, these approaches may not be enough to cope with the crisis we are facing. We play with the future of humanity and the rest of life on earth because we assume that GDP in rich countries must continue to grow. “

This echoes previous research who argued that over-reliance on new technology allows us to delay dramatic reductions in emissions, creating a dangerous cycle of technological promises and reformulated climate change goals.

Instead, scientists are calling for a comprehensive cultural, social and political transformation.

“It doesn’t have to be,” write Hickel and colleagues.

“High-income nations can maintain economic stability, invest in innovation, and achieve strong social outcomes without the need for additional growth, which makes mitigation easier to achieve.”

Instead, they propose policies that reduce inequality, guarantee living wages, shorten the working week and ensure access to health care, education and other basic services.

“If we distribute the proceeds of our economy more equitably, we can ensure a good life for everyone without plundering the planet for more,” says Hickel.

By updating existing climate models to address alternative ‘post-growth’ scenarios, this would, according to the authors, “help to broaden the range of policy options for public debate”.

  • This article is published in collaboration with Cosmos Magazine. Cosmos is produced by the Royal Institution of Australia.