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APPCCG & DECC: Presenting the Global Calculator

Image from Global Calculator
I recently had the great pleasure of being part of the Global Calculator presentation that took place in Parliament and was organized by Policy Connect.

In the background of the Paris talks and with more and more voices being raised demanding action to be taken against climate change, it is clear that the Global Calculator is a very ambitious project with a very demanding audience: all of us!

So what is the Global Calculator? By 2050, the global population is expected to grow from 7 billion today to 10 billion, and the global economy is expected to triple in size. This is the backdrop against which we are presented with the challenge of cutting global greenhouse gas emissions by half of today’s levels by 2050 in order to meet our international commitments to restrict the global mean temperature to 2°C. Leading scientists from over ten organizations came together and built a model of the world’s energy, land, food and climate systems to 2050. The team built the Global Calculator to model what lifestyle is physically possible for the world’s population – from kilometres travelled per person to calorie consumption and diet – and the energy, materials and land requirements to satisfy all of this. The climate impacts of different pathways are also illustrated by linking the model to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate science. The model has been tested with experts from more than 150 organisations around the world. Uniquely, you can use it yourself – the model, its methodology and assumptions are all published.

What is absolutely amazing about this project is the response it has received with more than 20,000 results (or ‘pathways’ as the experts called them)which have already been submitted by individuals!

The enthusiastic panel consisted of: Laura Aylett, Policy Analyst from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Simon Harrison, Manager from the Group Strategic Development, Grahame Buss, Principal Researcher of Shell and Dr Jeremy Wood from Imperial College London.

Ms Aylett, who presented the software and its uses also noted that in the beginning, it was only a UK Calculator that was developed but more and more countries became interested in this project that they all started developing their own Calculators and this was what resulted in the Global Calculator.  That remark was seconded heartedly by Mr Harrison who referred to the software as “UK’s gift to the world”.

A very interesting presentation was that of Mr Buss from Shell who have as a company also submitted two official pathways, one called Mountains and one called Oceans, trying to reach the emissions goal set by the software.

Finally Dr Woods who was one of the leading scientists developing the Calculator presented us with some more technical information and details about how the model was developed and the challenge of keeping it simple but also effective and functional.

In all it was an absolutely fantastic experience, extremely informative that I would like to conclude with the final words of Dr Wood’s presentation:
“The time to act is now”
This blog is written by Cabot Institute member Eleni Michalopoulou, a PhD student in the School of Chemistry at the University of Bristol.

Eleni blogs on a recent meeting of the All Party Parliament Climate Change Group.

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