Limits to growth redux: A system dynamics model for assessing energy and climate change constraints to global growth

Thomas Ansell, Steve Cayzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
52 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This study investigates the notion of limits to socioeconomic growth with a specific focus on the role of climate change and the declining quality of fossil fuel reserves. A new system dynamics model has been created. The World Energy Model (WEM) is based on the World3 model (The Limits to Growth, Meadows et al., 2004) with climate change and energy production replacing generic pollution and resources factors. WEM also tracks global population, food production and industrial output out to the year 2100. This paper presents a series of WEM's projections; each of which represent broad sweeps of what the future may bring. All scenarios project that global industrial output will continue growing until 2100. Scenarios based on current energy trends lead to a 50% increase in the average cost of energy production and 2.4–2.7 °C of global warming by 2100. WEM projects that limiting global warming to 2 °C will reduce the industrial output growth rate by 0.1–0.2%. However, WEM also plots industrial decline by 2150 for cases of uncontrolled climate change or increased population growth. The general behaviour of WEM is far more stable than World3 but its results still support the call for a managed decline in society's ecological footprint.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)514-525
Number of pages12
JournalEnergy Policy
Volume120
Early online date6 Jun 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Energy
  • Growth
  • Limits
  • Population
  • System dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy(all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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