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Environment

ESPAS Report 2019 : Global Trends to 2030

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Friday, April 5, 2019
Abstract in English: 
For something as unknown as the future, it appears to have become surprisingly predictable. A Google search of ‘future 2030’ yields more than 97 million results, all more or less claiming similar things: that 2030 will see a more connected, yet fragmented world, with hazardous shifts in demography and energy, and dangerous changes in technology, environment, and politics.
The future, while overall negative, appears to be a rather certain place.
This illusion of definitiveness is created by two dynamics: first, the pessimistic tone that runs through the vast majority of foresight reports. This is a common feature when it comes to future thinking, with one study showing that all studies undertaken on the future over the last 70 years have one thing in common; pessimism. The reason for this is simple: although both optimism and pessimism are natural human dispositions, the latter is more prevalent by far. Humans are, genetically speaking, biased towards the negative – some studies even indicate that this is particularly the case for Europeans. Second, pessimism in foresight is encouraged by the grave air that surrounds it: in general, negative statements are given more attention than positive ones. That said, more pessimism in foresight does not equal greater accuracy, as one study shows.
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52
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The Future of Rail - Opportunities for energy and the environment

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Friday, February 8, 2019
Abstract in English: 
Global demand for transport is growing fast. On present trends, passenger and freight activity will more than double by 2050.Such growth is a token of social and economic progress. But it carries with it growth in energy demand and in emissions of CO2 and atmospheric pollutants.Greater reliance on rail can cut that growth. The world is becoming ever more urbanised and rail travel is well matched to urban needs.High-speed rail can serve as an alternative to short-distance air travel. Conventional and freight rail can complement other transport modes to provide efficient mobility.This book shows what can be done and how. Its scale is global, with a special focus on the needs and opportunities in India.
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175
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Global Material Resources Outlook to 2060 - Economic Drivers and Environmental Consequences

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Abstract in English: 
This report presents global projections of materials use and their environmental consequences, providing a quantitative outlook to 2060 at the global, sectoral and regional levels for 61 different materials (biomass resources, fossil fuels, metals and non-metallic minerals). It explains the economic drivers determining the decoupling of economic growth and materials use, and assesses how the projected shifts in sectoral and regional economic activity influence the use of different materials. The projections include both primary and secondary materials, which provides a deeper understanding of what drives the synergies and trade-offs between extraction and recycling.The report projects a doubling of global primary materials use between today and 2060. Population and converging per capita income growth drive the growth in materials use. However, structural change, especially in non-OECD countries, and technology improvements partially dampen that growth. Metals and non-metallic minerals are projected to grow more rapidly than other types of materials.
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214
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Suppressing Growth: How GMO Opposition Hurts Developing Nations

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Monday, February 15, 2016
Abstract in English: 
Campaigns against genetically modified organisms (GMOs), originating primarily in Europe, have created significant obstacles to the development and adoption of genetically modified crops. While the policies and practices resulting from these campaigns impose considerable costs on the economies of origin, they disproportionately hurt those nations with the greatest need for more productive agriculture—particularly the developing nations of sub-Saharan Africa. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) estimates that the current restrictive climate for agricultural biotech innovations could cost low- and lowermiddle- income nations up to $1.5 trillion in foregone economic benefits through 2050. In short, anti-GMO activists have erected significant barriers to the development of the poorest nations on earth.
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25
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The Outlook for Natural Gas and LNG in China in the War against Air Pollution

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Abstract in English: 
The outlook for gas demand in China is one of the most important questions facing the global gas market, as it will have significant consequences for gas producers and consumers across the world. The rapid rise in China’s gas demand has been catalysed by environmental concerns, in particular air quality, in the country’s major cities and the authors of this report, Akira Miyamoto and Chikako Ishiguro, provide a detailed analysis of the progress that has been made in introducing environmental legislation to pursue the goal of cleaning up China’s skies. They consider the impact that this has had on gas consumption in China over the past decade before analysing the major goals of the Blue Sky Action Plan and outlining its potential consequences for gas demand over the next two to three years.
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61
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The Global Risks Report 2019

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Abstract in English: 
Is the world sleepwalking into a crisis? Global risks are intensifying but the collective will to tackle them appears to be lacking. Instead, divisions are hardening. The world’s move into a new phase of strongly state-centred politics, noted in last year’s Global Risks Report, continued throughout 2018. The idea of “taking back control”— whether domestically from political rivals or externally from multilateral or supranational organizations— resonates across many countries and many issues. The energy now expended on consolidating or recovering national control risks weakening collective responses to emerging global challenges. We are drifting deeper into global problems from which we will struggle to extricate ourselves.
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114
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Global trends of methane emissions and their impacts on ozone concentrations

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Monday, October 29, 2018
Abstract in English: 
Methane is a greenhouse gas and air pollutant producing health damaging tropospheric ozone. By 2050 in Europe 6,000 to 11,000 ozone-related premature deaths can be avoided per year (worldwide 70,000 to 130,000) when implementing ambitious methane reduction strategies worldwide. This works informs Europe’s forthcoming methane strategy.
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101
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Trends and projections in Europe 2018 - Tracking progress towards Europe's climate and energy targets

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Friday, November 16, 2018
Abstract in English: 
With sights now set on the new 2030 targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions, renewable energy and energy efficiency, renewed efforts towards achieving these targets will be necessary.Following the political agreements between the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the European Commission reached in June 2018, the EU now has full clarity on its climate and energy targets for 2030.
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118
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Harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution for Water

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Abstract in English: 
As part of the Harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution for the Earth series, this paper explores the opportunity for advanced technology to help address global water and sanitation challenges. The Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies have the potential to assemble more complete, current and accessible information on water supply and demand. Satellite imagery and other earth observation tools are delivering profound new insights on water supply in parts of the world where conventional ground-based methods to measure water supply are not feasible or practical.
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26
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Challenges to the Future of Gas: unburnable or unaffordable?

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Abstract in English: 
Modelling studies suggest that COP21 targets can be met with global gas demand peaking in the 2030s and declining slowly thereafter. This would qualify gas to be considered a `transition fuel’ to a low carbon economy. However, such an outcome is by no means a foregone conclusion. There are limited numbers of countries outside the OECD which can be expected to afford to pay wholesale (or import) prices of $6-8/MMbtu and above, which are needed to remunerate 2017 delivery costs of large volumes of gas from new pipeline gas or LNG projects. Prices towards the top of (and certainly above) this range are likely to make gas increasingly uncompetitive leading to progressive demand destruction even in OECD countries. The current debate in the gas community is when the `glut’ of LNG will dissipate, and the global supply/demand balance will tighten. The unspoken assumption is that when this happens – generally believed to be around the early/mid 2020s – prices will rise somewhere close to 2011-14 levels, allowing a return to profitability for projects which came on stream since the mid-2010s and allowing new projects to move forward. Should this assumption prove be correct, it will create major problems for the future of gas. The key to gas fulfilling its potential role as a transition fuel up to and beyond 2030, is that it must be delivered to high income markets below $8/MMbtu, and to low income markets below $6/MMbtu (and ideally closer to $5/MMbtu). The major challenge to the future of gas will be to ensure that it does not become (and in many low-income countries remain) unaffordable and/or uncompetitive, long before its emissions make it unburnable.
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53
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