updated 14 April, 2014.
Here is a quote from the new IPCC report on how to cut emissions. The summary can be found here: http://report.mitigation2014.org/spm/ipcc_wg3_ar5_summary-for-policymakers_approved.pdf
“ Globally, economic and population growth continue to be the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion. The contribution of population growth between 2000 and 2010 remained roughly identical to the previous three decades,while the contribution of economic growth has risen sharply (high confidence) [i.e. the scientific evidence for this statement is very good – SSM]. Between 2000 and 2010, both drivers outpaced emission reductions from improvements in energy intensity (Figure SPM.3). Increased use of coal relative to other energy sources has reversed the long‐standing trend of gradual decarbonization of the world’s energy supply. [1.3, 5.3, 7.2, 14.3, TS.2.2] ”
It is very close to what we argued in our 2012 In Place of Growth. We can do little about population growth here, other than supporting basic health and education worldwide, which means opposing the false economy of austerity: we know that birth rates reduce when women especially have access to education and health care. And it is economic growth that has accounted for the larger part of the increase – that is a doubling of emissions in the last 40 years.
And it is on the economic growth front that places like Manchester can make the greatest contribution. As the report again demonstrates, improvements in energy efficiency have not kept pace with the increased size of the economy and its associated emissions – and we argue they are unlikely to.
That means being very selective in which sectors of the economy are allowed to expand – we suggest local food and renewable energy production, and investment in highly energy efficient housing, for starters. And it means actively shrinking those sectors that create big emissions – yes that’s you: aviation, private motoring, excessive meat and dairy farming, and the unnecessary consumption of goods imported from across the world.
That’s going to require brave straight talking and action from our leaders, from the Chamber of Commerce, New Economy, and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and from academics and other pundits, journos, and so on.
Are we, and they, up to this challenge?