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Implications of fossil fuel constraints on economic growth and global warming

  • Nel, Willem P.
  • Cooper, Christopher J.
Registered author(s):

    Energy Security and Global Warming are analysed as 21st century sustainability threats. Best estimates of future energy availability are derived as an Energy Reference Case (ERC). An explicit economic growth model is used to interpret the impact of the ERC on economic growth. The model predicts a divergence from 20th century equilibrium conditions in economic growth and socio-economic welfare is only stabilised under optimistic assumptions that demands a paradigm shift in contemporary economic thought and focused attention from policy makers. Fossil fuel depletion also constrains the maximum extent of Global Warming. Carbon emissions from the ERC comply nominally with the B1 scenario, which is the lowest emissions case considered by the IPCC. The IPCC predicts a temperature response within acceptance limits of the Global Warming debate for the B1 scenario. The carbon feedback cycle, used in the IPCC models, is shown as invalid for low-emissions scenarios and an alternative carbon cycle reduces the temperature response for the ERC considerably compared to the IPCC predictions. Our analysis proposes that the extent of Global Warming may be acceptable and preferable compared to the socio-economic consequences of not exploiting fossil fuel reserves to their full technical potential.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V2W-4TJ05JG-1/2/4cbd1b491910e8b96c9f2f7eee6108b2
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

    Volume (Year): 37 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 1 (January)
    Pages: 166-180

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:37:y:2009:i:1:p:166-180
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

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    1. Mitra, Tapan, 1980. "On Optimal Depletion of Exhaustible Resources: Existence and Characterization Results," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(6), pages 1431-50, September.
    2. Cleveland, Cutler J. & Kaufmann, Robert K. & Stern, David I., 2000. "Aggregation and the role of energy in the economy," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 301-317, February.
    3. Kaufmann, Robert K., 1994. "The relation between marginal product and price in US energy markets : Implications for climate change policy," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 145-158, April.
    4. S. Illeris & G. Akehurst, 2002. "Introduction," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(1), pages 1-3, January.
    5. Toman, Michael & Pezzey, John C., 2002. "The Economics of Sustainability: A Review of Journal Articles," Discussion Papers dp-02-03, Resources For the Future.
    6. Ayres, Robert U. & Turton, Hal & Casten, Tom, 2007. "Energy efficiency, sustainability and economic growth," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 634-648.
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