Towards a Governance Structure for Sustainable Development
ESRI Studies Series on the Environment
Edited by Raimund Bleischwitz and Peter Hennicke
Chapter 2: Towards a new kind of technological progress
Raimund Bleischwitz The challenge of sustainable development requires a comprehensive environmental policy taking into account scarcities of ecosystems and natural resources as well as economic and social conditions. Seen from environmental science, leading climatologists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommend a reduction in greenhouse gases by some 50 per cent by the middle of the 21st century. The process of the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) has led to the Kyoto Protocol starting with a moderate reduction in most industrialized countries. On the other hand, one can learn from the World Energy Council and other experts that the demand for energy and with it the emissions of CO2 (a main cause of the greenhouse effect) are likely to double within the next few decades. The likely doubling of energy demand, together with the desired reduction in greenhouse gases, leads us to conclude that a gap as large as a factor of four at least will have to be closed. A similar picture arises regarding the loss of biological diversity. Although the scientific debate about causes and effects is more complex than in other areas of environmental research, one reason for land conversion and habitat destruction can be seen in the gigantic flow of materials extracted and used by modern societies. On average statistically, each inhabitant in the European Union, the USA or Japan induces material flows of between some 46 (Japan) and 85 (USA, Germany) tonnes per year (Matthews et al., 2000). Protecting the remaining biodiversity will...
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