Validity of the fossil fuel production outlooks in the IPCC Emission Scenarios

Posted on March 1, 2010

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Validity of the fossil fuel production outlooks in the IPCC Emission Scenarios, Mikael Höök, Anders Sivertsson, and Kjell Aleklett

The World of Science, TV Sweden’s science program, today presented as its first news item that our research article, ”Validity of the fossil fuel production outlooks in the IPCC Emission Scenarios” has now been published in the journal Natural Resources Research. Let’s read the abstract before we discuss this further:

Abstract:
Anthropogenic global warming caused by CO2 emissions is strongly and fundamentally linked to future energy production. The Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES) from 2000 contains 40 scenarios for future fossil fuel production and is used by the IPCC to assess future climate change. Previous scenarios were withdrawn after exaggerating one or several trends. This study investigates underlying assumptions on resource availability and future production expectations to determine whether exaggerations can be found in the present set of emission scenarios as well.

It is found that the SRES unnecessarily takes an overoptimistic stance and that future production expectations are leaning towards spectacular increases from present output levels. In summary, we can only encourage the IPCC to involve more resource experts and natural science in future emission scenarios. The current set, SRES, is biased toward exaggerated resource availability and unrealistic expectations on future production outputs from fossil fuels.

The entire article an be found at our website (http://www.tsl.uu.se/uhdsg/Publications/IPCC_article.pdf).

With a starting point of the future production scenarios that we presented in a report to the OECD in 2007, The World of Science made a calculation of temperature change and it was approximately +3 Celsius, i.e. somewhere over the +2 Celcius that is the climate target. We concluded our article with this comment:

We argue that numerous SRES scenarios need to be revised, generally downward, regarding production expectations from fossil fuels. Several scenarios agree poorly with reality over the recent years and some can even be ruled out. SRES is underpinned by a paradigm of perpetual growth and technological optimism as well as old and outdated estimates regarding the availability of fossil energy. Just as its withdrawn preceding report from 1992 (Gray, 1998), the future energy production projections for fossil in SRES (2000) are exaggerated and so are the resulting emissions. What kind of repercussions this has on the future climate is an open question which needs to be assessed from several different angles.

(Swedish)
Vetenskapens Värld, Sveriges Televisions vetenskapsmagasin, presenterade idag som första nyhet att vår forskningsartikel ”Validity of the fossil fuel production outlooks in the IPCC Emission Scenarios” nu publicerats i tidskriften Natural Resources Research. Låt oss läsa igenom abstract innan vi diskuterar vidare:

Abstract
Anthropogenic global warming caused by CO2 emissions is strongly and fundamentally linked to future energy production. The Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES) from 2000 contains 40 scenarios for future fossil fuel production and is used by the IPCC to assess future climate change. Previous scenarios were withdrawn after exaggerating one or several trends. This study investigates underlying assumptions on resource availability and future production expectations to determine whether exaggerations can be found in the present set of emission scenarios as well.

It is found that the SRES unnecessarily takes an overoptimistic stance and that future production expectations are leaning towards spectacular increases from present output levels. In summary, we can only encourage the IPCC to involve more resource experts and natural science in future emission scenarios. The current set, SRES, is biased toward exaggerated resource availability and unrealistic expectations on future production outputs from fossil fuels.

Hela artikeln finns på vår hemsida (http://www.tsl.uu.se/uhdsg/Publications/IPCC_article.pdf).

Med utgångspunkt från de framtida produktionsscenarier som vi presenterade i en rapport till OECD 2007 har Vetenskapens Värld låtit göra en temperaturförändringsberäkning och det blev ungefär+3 oC, det vill säga något över de +2 oC som är klimatmålet. Vi avslutar artikeln med denna kommentar:

We argue that numerous SRES scenarios need to be revised, generally downward, regarding production expectations from fossil fuels. Several scenarios agree poorly with reality over the recent years and some can even be ruled out. SRES is underpinned by a paradigm of perpetual growth and technological optimism as well as old and outdated estimated regarding the availability of fossil energy. Just as its withdrawn preceding report from 1992 (Gray, 1998), the future energy production projections for fossil in SRES (2000) are exaggerated and so are the resulting emissions. What kind of repercussions this has on the future climate is an open question which needs to be assessed from several different angles.

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