Low Energy Demand Degrowth Scenario

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Jason Hickel:

"The IPCC (2018) has for the first time published a scenario for reducing emissions in line with the Paris Agreement that does not rely on speculative negative emissions technologies. Developed by Grubler et al. (2018) and known as LowEnergy Demand (LED), the scenario works by reducing global energy consumption by 40%by 2050, which makes it much more feasible to achieve a transition to 100% clean energy.The key feature of this scenario is that global material production and consumption declines significantly: “The aggregate total material output decreases by close to 20 per cent from today, one-third due to dematerialization, and two-thirds due to improvements in material efficiency.” LED differentiates between the global North and South.

Industrial production and consumption declines by 42% in the North and 12% in the South. Given improvements in energy efficiency, this translates into industrial energy demand declining by 57% in the Northand 23% in the South.

The LED model represents a “degrowth” scenario – a planned reduction of the material and energy throughput of the global economy. Its inclusion in the IPCC report as the only scenario that does not rely on questionable negative emissions technologies suggests that degrowth may be the only feasible way to achieve the emissions reductions required by the Paris Agreement. This is a major milestone in climate mitigation theory. What is appealing about this approach is that it not only addresses emissions and climate change, but also reduces ecological impact across a range of other key indicators, including deforestation, chemical pollution, soil depletion, biodiversity loss, and so on (Rockstrom et al., 2009; Steffen et al.,2015)." (https://www.academia.edu/38601467/Degrowth_A_theory_of_radical_abundance?email_work_card=title)


Jason Hickel:

"There are a number of policies that would help to achieve reductions in material throughput in line with the LED scenario. One would be to legislate extended warranties on products, so that goods like washing machines and refrigerators last for 30 years instead of ten. Another is to ban planned obs olescence, and to introduce a “right to repair” so that products can be fixed cheaply and without proprietary parts. We could legislate reductions in food waste (as South Korea, France and Italy are doing), tax red meat to promote a shift to less resource-intensive foods, ban single-use plastics and disposable coffee cups, and end advertising in public spaces to reduce pressures for material consumption. Ultimately, however, to accomplish significant and sustained reductions will likely require imposing a Cap on Annual Material Use and tightening it year by year until it reaches what ecologists identify as sustainable levels (50billion tons per year on a global scale, or 6-8 tons per capita." (https://www.academia.edu/38601467/Degrowth_A_theory_of_radical_abundance?email_work_card=title)