Achieving a Sustainable Global Energy System

Achieving a Sustainable Global Energy System

Identifying Possibilities Using Long-Term Energy Scenarios

ESRI Studies Series on the Environment

Leo Schrattenholzer, Asami Miketa, Keywan Riahi and Richard Alexander Roehrl

Sustainable development and global climate change have figured prominently in scientific analysis and international policymaking since the early 1990s. This book formulates technology strategies that will lead to environmentally sustainable energy systems, based on an analysis of global climate change issues using the concept of sustainable development. The authors focus on environmentally compatible, long-term technology developments within the global energy system, while also considering aspects of economic and social sustainability.

Chapter 6: Summary and policy implications

Leo Schrattenholzer, Asami Miketa, Keywan Riahi and Richard Alexander Roehrl

Subjects: economics and finance, energy economics, environmental economics, environment, asian environment, environmental economics


Can energy–economy–environment (E3) scenarios that reach 100 years into the future be policy-relevant? And, if so, what kind of guidance can they provide to today’s policy making? In general, it should be clear that the policy relevance of long-term scenarios has to be different from that of nearterm outlooks, the difference coming from different objectives. Typical nearterm objectives with respect to the E3 system are, for instance, economic viability and immediate environmental impact of given project alternatives. In contrast, examples of long-term objectives would be economic, social and environmental sustainability, the latter including climate protection. From this difference it follows that policy relevance of near-term outlooks tends to be concrete – for instance, in assessing payback times and the environmental impact of alternative project variants – whereas the policy relevance of long-term scenarios is more strategic. To emphasize this aspect, we have, in some places, used the term ‘strategy’ to refer to a scenario. In the E3 system, and in other fields too, strategies aim at achieving a definite favourable outcome, which, in our case, is the sustainable development of the global energy–economy–environment system. The timing of strategic policies is a delicate issue. Although the target of sustainable development may be far away, this does not mean that there is much time to wait. We have used the term ‘slow variables’ to refer to the driving forces that are central to the understanding of the long-term developments analysed in this book. The term...

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