Emissions Scenarios

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What are the main driving forces of the GHG emissions in the scenarios?

This Report reinforces our understanding that the main driving forces of future greenhouse gas trajectories will continue to be demographic change, social and economic development, and the rate and direction of technological change. This finding is consistent with the IPCC 1990, 1992 and 1995 scenario reports. Table SPM-1 (see later) summarizes the demographic, social, and economic driving forces across the scenarios in 2020, 2050, and 2100 4 . The intermediate energy result (shown in Table SPM 2, see later) and land use results 5 reflect the influences of driving forces.

Recent global population projections are generally lower than those in the IS92 scenarios. Three different population trajectories that correspond to socio-economic developments in the storylines were chosen from recently published projections. The A1 and B1 scenario families are based on the low International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) 1996 projection. They share the lowest trajectory, increasing to 8.7 billion by 2050 and declining toward 7 billion by 2100, which combines low fertility with low mortality. The B2 scenario family is based on the long-term UN Medium 1998 population projection of 10.4 billion by 2100. The A2 scenario family is based on a high population growth scenario of 15 billion by 2100 that assumes a significant decline in fertility for most regions and stabilization at above replacement levels. It falls below the long-term 1998 UN High projection of 18 billion.

All scenarios describe futures that are generally more affluent than today. The scenarios span a wide range of future levels of economic activity, with gross world product rising to 10 times today's values by 2100 in the lowest to 26-fold in the highest scenarios.

A narrowing of income differences among world regions is assumed in many of the SRES scenarios. Two of the scenario families, A1 and B1, explicitly explore alternative pathways that gradually close existing income gaps in relative terms.

Technology is at least as important a driving force as demographic change and economic development. These driving forces are related. Within the A1 scenario family, scenarios with common demographic and socio-economic driving forces but different assumptions about technology and resource dynamics illustrate the possibility of very divergent paths for developments in the energy system and land-use patterns.

The SRES scenarios cover a wider range of energy structures than the IS92 scenarios. This reflects uncertainties about future fossil resources and technological change. The scenarios cover virtually all the possible directions of change, from high shares of fossil fuels, oil and gas or coal, to high shares of non-fossils.

In most scenarios, global forest area continues to decrease for some decades, primarily because of increasing population and income growth. This current trend is eventually reversed in most scenarios with the greatest eventual increase in forest area by 2100 in the B1 and B2 scenario families, as compared to 1990. Associated changes in agricultural land use are driven principally by changing food demands caused by demographic and dietary shifts. Numerous other social, economic, institutional, and technological factors also affect the relative shares of agricultural lands, forests, and other types of land use. Different analytic methods lead to very different results, indicating that future land use change in the scenarios is very model specific.

All the above driving forces not only influence CO2 emissions, but also the emissions of other GHGs. The relationships between the driving forces and non-CO2 GHG emissions are generally more complex and less studied, and the models used for the scenarios less sophisticated. Hence, the uncertainties in the SRES emissions for non-CO2 greenhouse gases are generally greater than those for energy CO2 6 .

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