Continuing global economic growth "is not possible"
if nations are to tackle climate change, a report by an environmental
think-tank has warned.
The New Economics Foundation (NEF)
said "unprecedented and probably impossible" carbon reductions would be
needed to hold temperature rises below 2C (3.6F).
Scientists say exceeding this limit could lead to dangerous global warming.
"We urgently need to change our economy to live within its environmental budget," said NEF's policy director.
Andrew Simms added: "There is no global, environmental central bank to bail us out if we become ecologically bankrupt."
None of the existing models or policies could "square the circle" of economic growth with climate safety, NEF added.
'No magic bullets'
the report, Growth Isn't Possible, the authors looked at the main
models for climate change and energy use in the global economy.
They then considered whether economic growth could be maintained
while "retaining a good likelihood" of limiting the global average
temperature to within 2C of pre-industrial levels.
concluded that a growth rate of just 3%, the "carbon intensity" of the
global economy would need to fall by 95% by 2050 from 2002 levels. This
would require an average annual reduction of 6.5%.
However, the authors said that the world's carbon intensity had "flatlined" between 2000 and 2007.
"For each year the target was missed, the necessary improvements would grow higher still," they observed.
The findings also suggested that there was no proven technological advance that would allow "business as usual" to continue.
bullets - such as carbon capture and storage, nuclear or even
geo-engineering - are potentially dangerous distractions from more
human-scale solutions," said co-author Victoria Johnson, NEF's lead
researcher for the climate change and energy programme.
added that there was growing support for community-scale projects, such
as decentralised energy systems, but support from governments was
"At the moment, magic bullets... are getting much of
the funding and political attention, but are missing the targets," Dr
"Our research shows that to prevent runaway climate change, this needs to change."
report concluded that an economy that respected environmental
thresholds, which include biodiversity and the finite availability of
natural resources, would be better placed to deliver human well-being
in the long run.
Tom Clougherty, executive director of the Adam
Smith Institute, a free-market think-thank, said NEF's report exhibited
"a complete lack of understanding of economics and, indeed, human
"It is precisely this economic growth which will
lift the poor out of poverty and improve the environmental standards
that really matter to people - like clean air and water - in the
process, as it has done throughout human history," he told BBC News.
only one good thing I can say for the NEF's report, and that's that it
is honest. Its authors admit that they want us to be poorer and to lead
more restricted lives for the sake of their faddish beliefs."