Call for expert comment on the new 2050 Global Calculator tool
EMBARQ, together with Climact and the United Kingdom Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), has modeled global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transport sector as part of the 2050 Global Calculator tool. The newly launched Global Calculator aims to be the most open-source model of the world’s energy, land, and food systems, and allows users to interactively explore the many pathways to reducing GHG emissions through changing technologies, fuels, land use, and lifestyles up to the year 2050.
The tool, which is currently open to the public in draft format, is designed to help policymakers understand how we can meet the world’s food and energy needs while minimizing our contributions to global climate change. Experts are invited to comment on the draft Calculator through August 29, 2014.
A new tool to model the world’s energy, land and food systems
The Global Calculator project is led by the United Kingdom Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Originally, DECC built a United Kingdom calculator, which was used to inform policy debate on trade-offs between different possible actions to reduce CO2 emissions. This tool is helping the U.K. to meet the legal requirement the country has set to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050 from 1990 levels. Since then, DECC has helped develop country-level calculators for Belgium, China, and South Korea and is currently supporting the development of 11 additional country calculators by the end of 2014. The Global Calculator builds on these tools by modeling various trade-offs at a global level and accounting for the finite amount of resources available worldwide.
The Global Calculator is divided by sector and allows users to choose a future pathway for each source of emissions based on four levels of effort. These levels let users explore the impacts of continuing business as usual versus pursuing ambitious measures to curb emissions through actions like reducing car usage, shifting to renewable energies, or improving crop efficiency.
The Global Calculator allows users to visualize the impact of transport emissions on global temperatures. Image via globalcalculator.org.
The team developing the Global Calculator includes experts in each major sector as well as modelers and climate scientists:
- Department of Energy and Climate Change (UK)
- EMBARQ | World Resources Institute
- Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission and Energy R&D International (China)
- E&Y (India)
- London School of Economics
- Imperial College London
- International Energy Agency
- Climate Media Factory
How EMBARQ modeled emissions from the transport sector
EMBARQ helped model GHG emissions from all major transport modes, as shown below. When modeling emissions from passenger travel in urban areas, for example, EMBARQ categorizes cities based on their predominant form of transport.
EMBARQ used its expertise in sustainable transport drawn from experiences around the world to model transport emissions from developed and developing countries. Graphic by Erin Cooper/EMBARQ.
“Automobile Cities,” – as shown in the diagram under urban passenger transport – are primarily in North America, Mexico, and Australia. “Transit Cities” are primarily in Latin America (excluding Mexico) and Europe. Finally, “Booming Cities” are defined as rapidly growing cities that are expected to increase their use of motorized transport as they develop. By accounting for such patterns of urban development, EMBARQ has helped to design a unique tool that shows the impact of urbanization and vehicle technology improvements on GHG emissions. For example, if more “Booming Cities” develop over future decades to become “Transit Cities,” average trip distance will be lower, mode share will shift towards more sustainable forms of transport, emissions from the transport sector will be lower, and the Global Calculator displays a correspondingly milder rise in global temperatures.
Sustainable mobility is crucial to reducing GHG emissions
Experts predict that a 2 degree Celsius rise in world temperatures could have drastic effects, including reduced crop yields, grave damage to ecosystems, and extreme weather. Some research even indicates that a 1 degree Celsius rise in global temperatures could lead to dangerous impacts like rising sea levels and the extermination of certain species.
Energy consumption in the transport sector has steadily increased over the last 40 years. Light-duty vehicles – the typical private car – are both the largest fuel consumers and one of the fastest growing, contributing to transport’s share of global GHG emissions. Graphic by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
In 2011, transport made up about 22% of global GHG emissions. As shown above, roughly 80% of total transport energy use comes from road transport, and oil use in the transport sector is steadily growing. Preliminary results from the Global Calculator show that the transport sector has the potential to increase or decrease total CO2 emissions by up to 20%, and that even with some effort in other sectors, failing to address emissions from transport could lead to a 2 – 6.6 degrees Celsius increase in global temperatures.
EMBARQ is seeking input from experts in order to make the Global Calculator as accurate as possible. EMBARQ is excited by the opportunity to contribute to a new tool that will help governments understand the relative impacts of their decisions and form comprehensive strategies for reducing emissions. Feedback on the data and levels of effort are welcomed before August 29, 2014. The full launch of the 2050 Global Calculator will occur in December 2014.
Read more about the role of sustainable mobility in reducing global GHG emissions on TheCityFix – produced by EMBARQ.