The Club of Rome, is an international think-tank that focuses on stimulating debate on achieving a sustainable future. The Club is continuing its tradition of supporting work that raises fundamental questions and promotes far-sighted solutions. Its reports are important because they utilise both scientific and economic thinking. . Its mission is to undertake forward-looking analysis and assessment on ways forward to a happier, more resilient and sustainable planet. www.clubofrome.org.
A Club of Rome report 40 years ago The Limits to Growth, 40 years ago first questioned the ideal of permanent growth.
This Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years, by Jorgen Randers, launched from the Club of Rome raises the possibility that humankind might not survive on the planet if it continues on its path of over-consumption and short-termism.
The report ask the questions: How many people will the planet be able to support? Will the belief in endless growth crumble? Will runaway climate change take hold? Where will quality of life improve, and where will it decline?
It is concluded that:
• While the process of adapting humanity to the planet’s limitations has started, the human response could be too slow.
• The current dominant global economies, particularly the United States, will stagnate. Brazil, Russia, India, South Africa and ten leading emerging economies (referred to as ‘BRISE’ in the Report) will progress.
• But there will still be 3 billion poor in 2052.
• China will be a success story, because of its ability to act.
• Global population will peak in 2042, because of falling fertility in urban areas
• Global GDP will grow much slower than expected, because of slower productivity growth in mature economies
• CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere will continue to grow and cause +2°C in 2052; temperatures will reach +2.8°C in 2080, which may well trigger self-reinforcing climate change.
The Report says the main cause of future problems is the excessively short-term predominant political and economic model. “We need a system of governance that takes a more long-term view”, said Professor Randers, speaking in Rotterdam. “It is unlikely that governments will pass necessary regulation to force the markets to allocate more money into climate friendly solutions, and must not assume that markets will work for the benefit of humankind”
“We already live in a manner that cannot be continued for generations without major change. Humanity has overshot the earth’s resources, and in some cases we will see local collapse before 2052 – we are emitting twice as much greenhouse gas every year as can be absorbed by the world’s forests and oceans.”
Commenting on the findings of 2052, Ian Johnson, Club of Rome Secretary General said: “Professor Randers’ analysis of where the world could be in 40 years has demonstrated that ‘Business as usual’ is not an option if we want our grand-children to live in a sustainable and equitable planet. It took 40 years before the full message of The Limits to Growth was properly understood. We cannot afford any more lost decades.”
The report adds to concerns expressed recently by many other organisations which are being ignored by governments which operate on short term expediency and their need for re-election.
Last year, the United Nations’ Environment Programme noted that the gap between countries pledges to cut emissions and what was needed to remain under 2 degrees had widened; emissions in 2020 would rise to between 6 billion and 11 billion tonnes over what is needed to limit global warming to safe levels.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) warned that the world may not be able to limit temperature rise if new international climate action is not taken by 2017 as so many fossil fuel power plants and factories are being built.
A new global climate pact forcing the world’s biggest polluters, including the United States and China, to curb emissions will only be agreed on by 2015 – to enter into force by 2020 – seen by many as too late to limit climate damage.