We first looked at this issue in a September 2006 report, which suggested that halting and eventually reversing the growth of global carbon emissions, although challenging, should be both technologically feasible and economically affordable.
Our updated analysis in this paper re-emphasises the scale of the challenge posed by global warming, which actually now seems even greater than at the time of our original report two years ago due in particular to higher projected economic growth in China and India. The other key development has been the sharp rise in oil and gas prices, which has raised questions as to whether the current global energy model will be sustainable in the long term.
Specifically we conclude that global carbon emissions from energy use in a ‘business as usual’ scenario would more than double by 2050, whereas what is required to reduce the risks of adverse climate change to acceptable levels is a reduction in global carbon emissions to only around half of current levels by that date. For the advanced G7 economies, this requires a reduction in carbon emissions by around 80% relative to current levels by 2050 (see chart below). For the E7 emerging economies, it involves mitigating the growth of emissions up to around 2020 and then aiming for reductions in emissions after that date, initially at a gradual rate but ultimately at a more rapid rate as lower cost green technologies are introduced in these countries.