IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report

3 Climate change and its impacts in the near and long term under different scenarios

3.1 Emissions scenarios

There is high agreement and much evidence[9] that with current climate change mitigation policies and related sustainable development practices, global GHG emissions will continue to grow over the next few decades. Baseline emissions scenarios published since the IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES, 2000) are comparable in range to those presented in SRES (see Box on SRES scenarios and Figure 3.1).[10] {WGIII 1.3, 3.2, SPM}

Scenarios for GHG emissions from 2000 to 2100 in the absence of additional climate policies

Figure 3.1

Figure 3.1. Global GHG emissions (in GtCO2-eq per year) in the absence of additional climate policies: six illustrative SRES marker scenarios (coloured lines) and 80th percentile range of recent scenarios published since SRES (post-SRES) (gray shaded area). Dashed lines show the full range of post-SRES scenarios. The emissions include CO2, CH4, N2O and F-gases. {WGIII 1.3, 3.2, Figure SPM.4}

The SRES scenarios project an increase of baseline global GHG emissions by a range of 9.7 to 36.7 GtCO2-eq (25 to 90%) between 2000 and 2030. In these scenarios, fossil fuels are projected to maintain their dominant position in the global energy mix to 2030 and beyond. Hence CO2 emissions from energy use between 2000 and 2030 are projected to grow 40 to 110% over that period. {WGIII 1.3, SPM}

Studies published since SRES (i.e. post-SRES scenarios) have used lower values for some drivers for emissions, notably population projections. However, for those studies incorporating these new population projections, changes in other drivers, such as economic growth, result in little change in overall emission levels. Economic growth projections for Africa, Latin America and the Middle East to 2030 in post-SRES baseline scenarios are lower than in SRES, but this has only minor effects on global economic growth and overall emissions. {WGIII 3.2, TS.3, SPM}

Aerosols have a net cooling effect and the representation of aerosol and aerosol precursor emissions, including sulphur dioxide, black carbon and organic carbon, has improved in the post-SRES scenarios. Generally, these emissions are projected to be lower than reported in SRES. {WGIII 3.2, TS.3, SPM}

SRES scenarios

SRES refers to the scenarios described in the IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES, 2000). The SRES scenarios are grouped into four scenario families (A1, A2, B1 and B2) that explore alternative development pathways, covering a wide range of demographic, economic and technological driving forces and resulting GHG emissions. The SRES scenarios do not include additional climate policies above current ones. The emissions projections are widely used in the assessments of future climate change, and their underlying assumptions with respect to socio-economic, demographic and technological change serve as inputs to many recent climate change vulnerability and impact assessments. {WGI 10.1; WGII 2.4; WGIII TS.1, SPM}

The A1 storyline assumes a world of very rapid economic growth, a global population that peaks in mid-century and rapid introduction of new and more efficient technologies. A1 is divided into three groups that describe alternative directions of technological change: fossil intensive (A1FI), non-fossil energy resources (A1T) and a balance across all sources (A1B). B1 describes a convergent world, with the same global population as A1, but with more rapid changes in economic structures toward a service and information economy. B2 describes a world with intermediate population and economic growth, emphasising local solutions to economic, social, and environmental sustainability. A2 describes a very heterogeneous world with high population growth, slow economic development and slow technological change. No likelihood has been attached to any of the SRES scenarios. {WGIII TS.1, SPM}

Available studies indicate that the choice of exchange rate for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (Market Exchange Rate, MER or Purchasing Power Parity, PPP) does not appreciably affect the projected emissions, when used consistently.[11] The differences, if any, are small compared to the uncertainties caused by assumptions on other parameters in the scenarios, e.g. technological change. {WGIII 3.2, TS.3, SPM}

  1. ^  Agreement/evidence statements in italics represent calibrated expressions of uncertainty and confidence. See Box ‘Treatment of uncertainty’ in the Introduction for an explanation of these terms.
  2. ^  Baseline scenarios do not include additional climate policies above current ones; more recent studies differ with respect to UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol inclusion. Emission pathways of mitigation scenarios are discussed in Topic 5.
  3. ^  Since the TAR, there has been a debate on the use of different exchange rates in emissions scenarios. Two metrics are used to compare GDP between countries. Use of MER is preferable for analyses involving internationally traded products. Use of PPP is preferable for analyses involving comparisons of income between countries at very different stages of development. Most of the monetary units in this report are expressed in MER. This reflects the large majority of emissions mitigation literature that is calibrated in MER. When monetary units are expressed in PPP, this is denoted by GDPPPP. {WGIII SPM}