Global development and CO2 emissions
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas. It is released into the atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil) for energy – which we are currently doing more than ever before. In the atmosphere, it insulates the Earth – the more there is, the warmer the Earth. How much we emit over the next 100 years will determine how the Earth’s climate changes.
By 2100 the world will have changed in ways that are difficult to imagine. How much carbon dioxide is emitted between now and then will be governed by how our lifestyles change; how rapidly we adopt more efficient technologies, whether we accept legislation which limits carbon emissions – even if that means the cost of living is higher, how our family size changes etc.
Below are details about 4 possible ways the world might develop in the future. By 2100 the worlds are very different in terms of how many people there are, how wealthy they are, how much technology has advanced and, crucially, what kind of fuel they use.
- World 1: Rapid rise in global wealth using mainly fossil fuels IPCC SRES A1
- World 2: Rapid rise in global wealth using mainly renewable energy IPCC SRES B1
- World 3: Slow rise in global wealth, increasing use of fossil fuels IPCC SRES A2
- World 4: Slow rise in global wealth, not much increase in the use of fossil fuels IPCC SRES B2