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PAthways for Carbon Transitions

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Managing the transition to a post-carbon future

The major changes needed to achieve a sustainable post-carbon society by 2050 have been assessed by an EU-funded initiative. Project partners evaluated energy demand scenarios together with socioeconomic factors that will support decision-making and help realise a future without the need for fossil fuels.

Energy

The world faces dwindling fossil fuel reserves and an increase in the release of greenhouse gases (GHGs), which play a leading role in global climate change. Sustainability is diminishing at a rapid pace, highlighting the urgent need for adoption of corrective measures on a large scale. The European Commission has set important milestones for emissions reductions, in part being addressed by the ambitious EU-funded PACT (Pathways for carbon transitions) initiative. Consortium members evaluated factors that play a role in a sustainable post-carbon society to provide strategic support for reaching EU goals within the next decades. Topics analysed included how goods and foods will be produced, the types of energy that will be available, where people will live and how they will be transported. Three different scenarios were investigated to explore routes to a post-carbon EU and their effects on GHG emissions. The main factors distinguishing the different models were demography, economic growth, world tensions involving resources and climate, policies, behaviours and lifestyles, and technologies. Project partners first developed analytical and conceptual frameworks. These different scenarios were quantified using adaptations of the very long-term energy environment (VLEEM) and the prospective outlook on long-term energy systems (POLES) models. VLEEM in particular focused on the energy demand in various parts of the world in relation to socioeconomic factors, rather than demand for electricity or gas. The VLEEM model included factors such as demography, access to education and changes in the structure of time use. More variables were able to be considered by integrating the POLES model. The models were upgraded and adapted to represent the urbanisation and land-use effects. Combined use of the two models required the development of an interface between energy services as defined by VLEEM and demand functions as defined by POLES. PACT has addressed the issues of energy demand and its relation to urbanisation and land-use schemes, lifestyles and behaviours, and available technologies. Following careful assessment of the role of social forces, actors and stakeholders in the transition to a post-carbon society by 2050, PACT will deliver strategic decision support for a sustainable post-carbon EU road plan.

Keywords

Sustainable, post carbon society, energy demand, fossil fuels, greenhouse gases, sustainability, PACT, VLEEM, POLES, strategic decision support

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