By Priess, A., J. et al., 2018

Understanding uncertainties and risks can be considered to be the main motivation behind environmental scenario studies to assess potential economic, environmental, social or technical developments and their expected consequences for society and environment. The scenario study presented in this paper was designed to contribute to the question of how natural capital and ecosystem services may evolve in Europe under different socio-environmental conditions. The study was conducted as part of OpenNESS, an on-going EU FP7 research project. We present the iterative participatory scenario process, the storylines and drivers, examples for regional applications, as well as initial feedback from stakeholders. In a participatory iterative approach four scenarios were developed for the period to 2050, involving regional and EU-level users and stakeholders. Subsequently, scenarios were successfully contextualised and applied in regional place-based studies under widely differing socio-environmental conditions. Regional teams used different approaches to adapt storylines and drivers to the regional contexts. In an internal evaluation process among regional stakeholders some participants expressed concerns about the scenario method. Suggestions are made how to overcome these limitations. However, most participants approved the scenario method, especially in terms of provoking discussions, and confirmed the usefulness and applicability of the approach.

Context and scope:

  • The Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative "Resource efficient Europe" aspires "to support the shift towards a resource efficient and low-carbon economy that is efficient in the way it uses all resources?. It requires that the EC works to establish a vision for change by 2050.
  • A vision must be owned by the organisation that will be promoting it, and this requires it be developed and debated internally. This study, carried out by Cambridge Econometrics, Sustainable Europe Research Institute (SERI) and Wuppertal Institute (WI), assists DG Environment as it develops the vision and does not provide the final vision itself. The scope of resource efficiency is vast; the scope of this project is limited to the resource domains of material use, energy/climate, land use/biodiversity and water.
  • Specifically, the study:

- Suggests key elements for the overall vision, including targets
- Suggests broad policy initiatives through which the elements of the vision could be achieved
- Recommends modelling approaches through which potential policies aimed at achieving the vision can be assessed and progress can be measured.

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By Caldeira, K., & Wickett, M. E., 2003

Most carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the burning of fossil fuels will eventually be absorbed by the ocean, with potentially adverse consequences for marine biota. Here we quantify the changes in ocean pH that may result from this continued release of CO2 and compare these with pH changes estimated from geological and historical records. 

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By Anthoff, D., S. Rose, R.S.J. Tol and S. Waldhoff, 2011.

The social cost of carbon is an estimate of the benefit of reducing CO2 emissions by one ton today. As such it is a key input into cost-benefit analysis of climate policy and regulation. We provide a set of new estimates of the social cost of carbon from the integrated assessment model FUND 3.5 and present a regional and sectoral decomposition of our new estimate. China, Western Europe and the United States have the highest share of harmful impacts, with the precise order depending on the discount rate. The most important sectors in terms of impacts are agriculture and increased energy use for cooling. We present an extensive sensitivity analysis with respect to the discount rate, equity weights, different socio economic scenarios and values for the climate sensitivity parameter.

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Argophilia, 2012.

In light of mounting economic problems over the last few years, the EU is looking offshore to its seas and oceans, as it bids to create more jobs, sustainable growth, and perhaps, an find an end to its current financial crisis.

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By PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2008

BAU Scenario

BAU scenario assumes, firstly, that improvements in energy intensity (measured in terms of the rate of decline in the ratio of primary energy consumption to GDP) average around 1.5% per annum globally, but with some variations by country and over time to reflect recent trends. This BAU assumption is in line with average global energy intensity improvements in 1980-2005 and can be used to generate projections for primary energy consumption to 2050 both at national and global level.BAU scenario shows that, while global GDP is projected to grow by around 325% cumulatively between 2006 and 2050 (3.4% per annum on average), primary energy consumption is projected to grow by only around 140% cumulatively over this period (2.0% per annum on average) due to energy efficiency improvements.BAU scenario further assumes that: the fuel mix between gas, coal, oil and others is constant in each country; and there is no use of carbon capture and storage (CCS).Given these assumptions, carbon emissions from energy use grow broadly in line with primary energy consumption, increasing by around 140% cumulatively between 2006 and 2050, or by around 2% per annum on average.The power generation and transport sectors see the most rapid growth rates in emissions in this scenario, reflecting the expected patterns of development in the major emerging economies and the rise in car ownership in these countries. But all sectors of the global economy see significant cumulative growth in emissions in this scenario, which reinforces the need for an economy-wide approach to moving to a low carbon world, rather than a strategy focused on a few key sectors.The implication of this BAU scenario is a projected rise in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere from around 385 parts per million (ppm) now to around 600ppm by 2050, with an accelerating upward trend being evident at that date.Since the latest scientific analysis detailed in the 2007 IPCC reports suggests aiming for global CO2 stabilisation at around 400-475 ppm (or around 450-550ppm for CO2 equivalent totals of all greenhouse gases), this outcome would seem clearly unsustainable in terms of implied rates of global warming and the associated risks of severe adverse effects on health, the economy, agriculture (and so global food supply) and the natural world.

Greener Growth Scenario

Green Growth + CCS’ scenario seem that time to be sufficient to put global carbon emissions on a path consistent with long-term stabilisation of atmospheric CO2 concentrations at what was judged then to be an acceptable level of around 450ppm.In the next 15-20 years energy efficiency improvements for vehicles, power plants, factories and buildings would play the most important role in this scenario, but renewables and CCS would also become increasingly important in delivering the required reductions in carbon emissions beyond around 2025 once these technologies became more mature and their unit costs reduced accordingly.This scenario has the following enhanced features: the rate of reduction in energy intensity is set at 1.5% per annum and the share of renewable and nuclear power in total primary energy consumption is assumed to rise to around 50% by 2050.The reductions would encompass all major economies, but with the G7 economies being required to reduce emissions by 2050 by around 80% compared to 2006, whereas the E7 emerging economies (led by China and India) might aim initially to restrain the growth of emissions up to around 2020 and only later start to reduce them at an accelerating rate.The transport sector may prove particularly challenging here, given the rapid expected growth in car ownership in emerging economies and the difficulties at present in finding economically viable and technically feasible alternatives to oil-based fuels for motor vehicles (and indeed also for air transport). However, over such a long time period, it seems likely that some kind of technical breakthroughs might be achieved in this field and indeed these advances may well come in large part from the emerging economies like China or India, who are facing the greatest environmental challenges from increased car ownership, rather than from the OECD countries.Basic features of this policy framework will need to be:Early global political agreement on long-term targets for carbon emission reductions that allow for fair burden sharing between developed and less developed economies;Some global inter-linked mechanisms for putting a price on carbon, whether this be through trading, taxation or possibly some combination of the two; andOther supporting policies including support for development and early stage implementation of new technologies such as CCS, green technology transfer to less developed economies, direct regulation in areas where economic instruments may be less effective (e.g. energy efficiency standards for buildings and household appliances), and action to reduce and eventually reverse deforestation and promote conservation tillage in agricultural sectors.

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By National Oceanic and atmospheric administration (NOAA), 2009

The scenarios conveyed in this document are derived from different combinations of outcomes at the extreme ends of three axes of uncertainty:  the nature and mix of economic activity; governance and decision-making processes; and the interaction between society and the physical environment. The scenarios also include a range of forces that are fairly certain to occur and consequently appear nearly identically in each scenario, although their impacts may vary substantially.

Too little, too late?

Despite smart economic growth based on alternative energy and sustainable production, and despite collaboration on environmental policy at all levels of government, it may be too late to stop abrupt climate change and its social, economic, and environmental impacts.  Key drivers: Smart economic growth is implemented, and government institutions collaborate in policy making and implementation, but the global environment doesn’t appear to be responding.  Hallmarks:  Strong economic growth is fueled by alternative energy;  investments and global trade; a growing knowledge and information about environmental threats, and new observation and analysis capabilities; there is strong international cooperation on climate change; government creates new markets and facilitates the transition of society; demand for fossil fuels remains high and the environment appears too sick to respond;  turbulent and massive shifts in weather and the earth’s ecosystems are occurring; experts disagree over a policy shift from mitigation to adaptation.

Green Chaos

Environmental policy at all levels of government is fragmented and disorganized, but a growing market for alternative energy and other sustainable products leads to smart economic growth and an increasingly harmonious relationship between humans and nature supported by the forces of supply and demand.  Key drivers: Smart growth policies are adopted and successfully implemented, the interaction between the environment and society becomes harmonious, and government institutions act according to self-interests in a fragmented fashion.  Hallmarks: markets deal effectively with environmental uncertainties; multinationals, venture capital firms, and state-owned enterprises in developing countries invest aggressively in green and sustainable development solutions; carbon taxes in the United States, and an uneven patchwork of regional and local government policies exist; government policy makers are overwhelmed by the environmental and economic uncertainties; and any of the feared economic consequences from externality pricing and heavily regulating resource usage were hype.

Carbon Junkies

Environmental policy at all levels of government is collaborative, particularly in developing advanced environmental science and technology, but business-as-usual practices in industry and the public’s focus on traditional metrics of economic success lead, ultimately, to extensive environmental degradation. Key Drivers: Governments develop innovative policies and collaborative mechanisms, but business-as-usual forces are powerful and continue to prevail. The environment starts to change significantly while the U.S. economy and the rest of the world appear unable to respond. Hallmarks: in developed and developing countries, the old economic systems continue to exploit cheap, fossil energy in stimulating economic growth; what many scientists (and Al Gore) long predicted has been confirmed: The world is running out of time in its use of carbon; in the United States, productive agricultural land shrinks significantly; Arctic ice in summer months disappears in the wake of the dramatically warming climate; Scientists agree that large-scale change in the climate system is taking place and the change cannot be reversed, even with major mitigation efforts worldwide, for decades.

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By World Business Council for Sustainable Future, 2010

Business-as-usual outlook to 2050. 

Growth: Population, urbanization and consumption Between now and 2050 the global population is expected to increase from 6.9 billion to more than 9 billion, with 98% of this growth happening in the developing and emerging world, according to UN estimates. The global urban population will double. Meanwhile, populations are aging and stabilizing in many developed countries. Local demographic patterns will become increasingly diverse.There have been improvements in recent decades in terms of economic growth in many parts of the world, as well as in areas such as infant and maternal mortality, food supply, and access to clean water and education. However, extreme poverty continues to persist. Most of the economic growth will happen in developing or emerging economies. Many people will be moving up the economic ladder toward a middle class standard of living, consuming many more resources per capita. As this growth and development takes place, substantial changes will be required in all countries in order for 9 billion people to live well, within the limits of one planet by 2050. Inertia and inadequate governance. The governance and policy responses to manage this growth often happen in silos and are limited by short term, localized political pressures, and thus fall short of the level of commitment needed to make significant progress. In addition, the choices countries, companies, communities and individuals make are often characterized by inertia due to short-term goals and self interest. Continuing to invest in polluting or energy-inefficient types of infrastructure and opting for high-footprint consumer lifestyle preferences are examples of such choices that perpetuate the status quo. Degradation: Climate change and deteriorating ecosystems. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment found that 15 of the 24 ecosystem services they evaluated have been degraded over the past half century. A rapid and continuing rise in the use of fossil fuel-based energy and an accelerating use of natural resources are continuing to affect key ecosystem services, threatening supplies of food, freshwater, wood fiber and fish. More frequent and severe weather disasters, droughts and famines are also impacting communities around the world.

The Vision 2050

In 2050, some 9 billion people live well, and within the limits of the planet. The global population has begun to stabilize, mainly due to the education and economic empowerment of women and increased urbanization. More than 6 billion people, two-thirds of the population, live in cities. People have the means to meet their basic human needs, including the need for dignified lives and meaningful roles in their communities.

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By Forum for the future, 2010

Low-income countries are being affected first and worst by climate change. And climate change is a long-term challenge, where a long-term approach is essential to manage the risks and seize the opportunities it poses. Scenarios for low-income countries in a climate -changing world are listed below:

Reversal of Fortunes

This is a fraught world where the urgent need to cut carbon dominates international relations. Drastic measures to decarbonise the global economy spell crisis for many industries and no country is immune to the pain. Having rapidly developed ± mostly on carbon-intensive pathways ± many low-income countries of the 2010s are now middle-income. They speak with a strong, united voice on the world stage, holding wealthier nations to account for the problems of climate change. These new emerging economies are the least resilient and are suffering the most, and with the world focussed on cutting carbon there is little money in the pot for aid.

Age of Opportunity

This is a world where low-income countries have received significant and effective development assistance as part of a strong climate change deal. They play a growing role in the world economy and are spearheading a low-carbon energy revolution, leapfrogging the old high carbon technologies in pursuit of a prosperous and clean future.  Cultural confidence in these countries is high: their politicians take a prominent place on the world stage, and increasingly people reject high-carbon Western lifestyles as uncivilised. In many states power has devolved to regions and communities; in some countries this has brought positive change, but in others large areas have fallen under the control of local mafia and warlords.

Coping Alone

This is a world in which low-income countries feel increasingly abandoned. Two decades of high oil prices and economic stagnation have driven the global community apart. Attempts to coordinate action to reduce carbon emissions have been dropped. Regional blocs now focus on their own concerns, such as food security, resource shortages and adapting to climate change. Low-income countries face all these problems with few resources and limited support from wealthy nations; some states have collapsed. New models of business and governance are starting to emerge from the shadows of increasing inequality.

The Greater Good

This is a world where people understand that economies rely fundamentally on access to natural resources. Climate change is seen as the ultimate resource crunch, but there are equal concerns over water, food and soil depletion. States manage natural resources pragmatically to give the greatest good for the greatest number and are prepared to take draconian action to protect them. Individual liberties and choice have suffered, but most people feel that their future is at least being safeguarded. Those low-income countries with natural resources prosper; those without have little bargaining power. Tensions between rival resource blocs are intense, and sometimes spill over into violent conflict.

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By UNEP, 2007

In the GEO-4 conceptual framework, the key drivers of environmental change include: institutional and socio-political frameworks, demographics, economic demand, markets and trade, scientific and technological innovation, and value systems.

Markets First

The private sector, with active government support, pursues maximum economic growth as the best path to improve the environment and human well-being. Lip service is paid to the ideals of the Brundtland Commission, Agenda 21 and other major policy decisions on sustainable development. There is a narrow focus on the sustainability of markets rather than on the broader human-environment system. Technological fixes to environmental challenges are emphasized at the expense of other policy interventions and some tried-and-tested solutions.

Policy First

Government, with active private and civil sector support, initiates and implements strong policies to improve the environment and human well-being, while still emphasizing economic development. Policy First introduces some measures aimed at promoting sustainable development, but the tensions between environment and economic policies are biased towards social and economic considerations. Still, it brings the idealism of the Brundtland Commission to overhauling the environmental policy process at different levels, including efforts to implement the recommendations and agreements of the Rio Earth Summit, the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), and the Millennium Summit. The emphasis is on more top-down approaches, due in part to desires to make rapid progress on key targets.

Security First

Government and private sector compete for control in efforts to improve, or at least maintain, human well-being for mainly the rich and powerful in society. Security First, which could also be described as Me First, has as its focus a minority: rich, national and regional. It emphasizes sustainable development only in the context of maximizing access to and use of the environment by the powerful. Contrary to the Brundtland doctrine of interconnected crises, responses under Security First reinforce the silos of management, and the UN role is viewed with suspicion, particularly by some rich and powerful segments of society.

Sustainability First

Government, civil society and the private sector work collaboratively to improve the environment and human well-being, with a strong emphasis on equity. Equal weight is given to environmental and socio-economic policies, and accountability, transparency and legitimacy are stressed across all actors. As in Policy First, it brings the idealism of the Brundtland Commission to overhauling the environmental policy process at different levels, including strong efforts to implement the recommendations and agreements of the Rio Earth Summit, WSSD, and the Millennium Summit. Emphasis is placed on developing effective public-private sector partnerships not only in the context of projects but also that of governance, ensuring that stakeholders across the spectrum of the environment development discourse provide strategic input to policy making and implementation. There is an acknowledgement that these processes take time, and that their impacts are likely to be more long term than short-term.

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By David Holmgren, 

Four Energy Descent scenarios are considered, each emerging from a combination of either fast of slow oil decline and either mild or severe climate change over the next 10-30 years.

Brown Tech Scenario (Slow energy decline rates, severe climate change symptoms)

The Brown Tech world is one in which the production of oil declines after a peak 2005-2010 at about 2% per annum and the subsequent peak and decline of natural gas is also relatively gentle, but the severity of global warming symptoms is at the extreme end of current mainstream scientific predictions. The tendency in existing systems for massive centralised investment by corporations and governments, give priority to getting more energy out of lower grade non-renewable resources (eg. tar sands, coal and uranium) and biofuels from industrial agriculture and forestry. At the same time the cost of defending or replacing urban infrastructure threatened by storms and future sea level rise consumes more resources. Rapid onset of climate change tends to support centralised nationalist systems.

Green Tech Scenario: Distributed Power down (Slow energy decline rates, mild climate change symptoms)

The Green Tech scenario is the most benign, in that adverse climate changes are at the low end of projections. Oil and gas production declines slowly as in the Brown Tech future, so the sense of chaos and crisis is more muted without major economic collapse or conflict. However higher commodity prices allows some poorer producer economies to escape their debt cycle. As in the Brown Tech scenario, electrification is a key element in the energy transition but the renewable energy sources of wind, biomass, solar, hydro, tidal, wave etc. grow rapidly developing a more diverse and distributed mix.

Earth Steward Scenario: Bottom Up Rebuild (Rapid energy decline rates, mild climate change symptoms)

In this scenario the decline in oil production after a peak in total liquids production before 2010 is at the extreme end of authoritative predictions (about 10%) and is followed by an even faster decline in gas production plus a simultaneous peak in coal production. The shock to the world’s fragile financial systems is overwhelming, resulting in severe economic depression and perhaps some further short, sharp resource wars. This economic collapse and these political stresses, more than the actual shortage of resources, prevents the development of more expensive and large scale non-renewable resources that characterise the Brown Tech scenario or the renewable resources and infrastructure of the Green Tech. International and national communications networks break down.

Lifeboats Scenario: Civilization Triage (Rapid energy decline rates, severe climate change symptoms)

In this scenario, supplies of high quality fossil fuels decline rapidly, the economy fails and human contributions to global warming collapse but lag effects and positive feedbacks in the climate system continue to drive an acceleration of global warming. As of 2007, an increasing number of scientists believe it may already be too late to avoid catastrophic climate change. In the Lifeboat scenario the adverse symptoms of the Brown Tech and Earth Steward scenarios combine to force a progressive collapse in most forms of economy and social organisation. Local wars, including use of nuclear weapons accelerate collapse in some areas but the failure of national systems of power prevents global warfare. Successive waves of famine and disease breakdown social and economic capacity on a larger scale than the Black Death in medieval Europe leading to a halving of global population in a few decades.

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Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, 2009

This report looks into the possible developments in the climate and energy system on the one hand, and biodiversity and land use on the other hand. Two scenarios are presented: 

Trend Scenario (explores the risks of climate change and biodiversity loss). 

In the Trend scenario, it is assumed that the world continues to develop in a business-as-usual (BAU) pattern, which serves as a reference scenario by extrapolating trends for the main parameters of the last decades. In this scenario, there are no explicit policies to address main environmental challenges. The Trend scenario is in line with the so-called A-worlds in earlier scenario work (IPCC, 2000). These A-worlds feature a strengthening of corporate capitalism and market mechanism, after the proclaimed ‘End of History’, rapid globalisation of goods and financial markets, a new technological wave in the form of ICT, and the rapid economic growth in some major world regions, notably China. The Trend scenario projects a continuing increase in material goods and services, driven by the same entrepreneurial and market dynamics which the world has experienced over the last decades. At individual levels, this has provided an increase in material welfare for billions of people in OECD countries, as well as outside the OECD – and provided hope to the poor of catching up with the rich. A plethora of high-tech products entered the global market place, satisfying demand from the rich and the poor. Meanwhile, there a huge and partly unsatisfied demand for low-tech elementary goods and services remains.

Population size dynamics in the Trend scenario follows the UN medium scenario, increasing to 9 billion around 2050, and slowly declining to around 8 billion by 2100. This projection lies within the uncertainty range of published projections over the last few years. In terms of economic growth, current expectations are followed: economic growth, in general, will be higher in low-income countries than in high-income countries, but this will not result in income convergence. Based on population dynamics (ageing of the population) and declining total factor productivity (TFP) improvement, economic growth in high-income countries is expected to slow down – but, on a global scale, this is compensated by an increasing share of faster growing low-income countries. The key question with respect to the Trend scenario is whether the growth in material flows could remain within the limits for climate change and biodiversity loss. In other words: is the collective outcome of such a world indeed a continuing smooth increase in quality of life for the average person, or will it meet its limits?

The Trend scenario is likely to lead to an increase in average global temperature of 4 °C above pre-industrial levels, by the end of the century. This implies that the climate policy target of 2 °C (chosen as an interpretation of preventing non dangerous climate change) would not be met. Such a degree of global warming is likely to lead to serious climate change. The scenario shows that greenhouse gas emissions will have more or less doubled, by 2050. Assuming that policymakers would like to limit the probability of overshooting the 2 °C target to less than 50%, or even 25%, emissions need would need to peak in about one to two decades, and be reduced by around 50% by the middle of the century. For achieving this, the energy production system should be very different from that under the Trend scenario. Moreover, all major developing countries, including China and Brazil, would have to participate in international climate policy, from 2020 onwards.

Challenge Scenario (Explores the pathway to bring a more environmentally sustainable future)

The Challenge scenario explores the result of policies developed to meet the climate and biodiversity objectives. This scenario is based on two normative choices:

- Greenhouse gases will be reduced in order to limit average global temperature increase to a maximum of 2ºC.

- Expansion of agricultural land will be limited in order to avoid further loss of biodiversity, from 2020 onwards.

The main objective of the Challenge scenario is to find out what kind of changes in the world’s energy and land-use systems would be required to meet the objectives for climate change and biodiversity loss. Given the enormous momentum behind the drivers in the Trend scenario, the force to deflect such trends to meet environmental targets is not a trivial task. As no feedback on population and economic growth was taken into account for the Trend scenario, population and economic growth in the Challenge scenario is assumed to equal that of the Trend scenario.In the Challenge scenario, a low-carbon economy could be achieved with currently identifiable technologies. The first steps would be to improve energy savings, increase use of renewable energy and carbon capture and storage, reduce deforestation, and reduce non-CO2 emissions. An attractive route is based on a further electrification of energy use. In that sense, considerable investments in the power grid would be needed. In the transport sector, energy efficiency could reduce emissions, in the short term. In the long term, however, a dramatic shift towards electric (or hydrogen) vehicles is required.Investments in the energy system (supply-side only) are estimated to be around 60,000 billion USD between 2000 and 2050 (i.e. around 1400 billion per year or 1.5% of GDP). Achieving the Challenge scenario could lead to a doubling of these costs. The macro-economic impacts of these costs are significantly smaller. However, economic and technical barriers are not the main obstacles to achieving the Challenge scenario. A shared sense of urgency and an international response is critically important. Given the need for reducing global emissions within one to two decades, emissions must be reduced substantially in both high- and low-income countries. The current proposals stated by OECD countries and low-income countries as part of the international climate policy negotiations clearly would not be enough to implement a 2 °C scenario. Significant delays in the negotiations would bring the 2 °C target out of reach.

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Club of Rome, 2004

In 1972 "The Limits to Growth" shocked the world. The authors looked into the future and sounded an alarm, for the first time showing the consequences of unchecked growth on a finite planet. Their book gained worldwide attention and became the cornerstone of a global debate on how to achieve a sustainable future. The 30-Year Update brings data on overshoot and global ecological collapse to the present moment. It provides a short course in the World3 computer model, types of growth, and the various kinds of overshoot likely to occur in the current century. While it remains to be seen whether public policy will respond effectively and in time to problems such as climate change, this book makes a compelling case for the vital need for a Sustainability Revolution.

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World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 2010

Under the Vision 2050 project ofthe World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), 29 WBCSD member companies developed a vision of a world well on the way to sustainability by 2050, and a pathway leading to that world – a pathway that will require fundamental changes in governance structures, economic frameworks, business and human behavior. It emerged that these changesare necessary, feasible and offer tremendous business opportunities for companies that turn sustainability into strategy.

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EEA Technical report, No 5/2011
European Environment Agency, 2011

‘BLOSSOM – Bridging long-term scenario and strategy analysis: organisation and methods’ summarises the results of a three-year project, that examined to what extent foresight studies underpinned environmental policies in 12 EU Member States. It shows several successful examples of how European countries are giving increasing attention to using long term approaches, such as scenario building, when formulating environmental policies. Environment public sector is increasing its capacity for futures thinking and striving to make futures studies more relevant in policy. Governments in Europe - and beyond - could also go further in exchanging information on their approaches. A network on futures thinking in environmental policy could help national governments strengthen their work, the report says.

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John Muir Trust
March 2010 

‘Views from 2050’ is a discussion about the value of nature, landscapes and biodiversity. This initiative asked a broad canvas of people to consider themselves as being in the year 2050, with the Government’s 80% greenhouse gas emission reduction targets having been met. This leaflet gives an overview of contributions from a wide variety of sources. Although diverse in theme, they all promote the idea that the natural world - and our relationship with it - should be prominent in discussions about a future ‘emission-lite’ society. 

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EEA Technical report, No 1/2011
European Environment Agency, 2011

The report brings together a review of available scenarios studies relevant to environmental assessment and decision-making at the European (or sub-European) scale (263 studies), and facts sheets of selected 44 studies using common description categories, which enables the user to review existing scenario studies that may be of relevance to their particular interest and benefit from them. It is also a contribution to the evolving knowledge base for Forward-Looking Information and Services (FLIS).

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EEA Technical report, No 3/2009
European Environment Agency, 2009

This report introduces and analyses a pool of 52 pieces of research on scenario planning, commonly known as 'evaluative scenario literature'. Collectively, these studies provide insights into: the types of scenarios that exist and those that work in different contexts, both in the public and private sectors; the characteristics that enable organisations to use scenarios more effectively; and the ways that scenarios influence decision‑making processes and robust organisational strategies.

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Four Scenarios
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005

This chapter presents four internally consistent scenarios that explore aspects of plausible global futures and their implications for ecosystem services. The probability of any one of these scenarios being the real future is very small. Each scenario might resemble some people’s ideal world, but one lesson to us as we developed them was that all four scenarios have both strengths and potentially serious weaknesses. An ideal future would probably involve a mix of all four, with different elements dominating at different times and in different places. The future could be far better or far worse than any of the scenarios, depending on choices made by key decision-makers and other people in society who bring about change. Our purpose in developing the stories is to encourage decision-makers to consider some positive and negative implications of the different development trajectories.The Global Orchestration scenario depicts a worldwide connected society in which global markets are well developed.

The Order from Strength scenario represents a regionalized and fragmented world concerned with security and protection, emphasizing primarily regional markets, and paying little attention to the common goods, and with an individualistic attitude toward ecosystem management. The Adapting Mosaic scenario depicts a fragmented world resulting from discredited global institutions. The TechnoGarden scenario depicts a globally connected world relying strongly on technology and on highly managed and often-engineered ecosystems to deliver needed goods and services.

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European Environment Agency, 2009

Will our traditional rural landscapes still exist in 30 years time? Will the countryside be a lively place, or a desert? Will agriculture have a future? This interactive tool presents a set of five different land use scenarios for Europe. They have been developed using an innovative approach that triggers the imagination of stakeholders and underpins their ideas with state-of-the-art land use models.

You can explore the PRELUDE scenarios from different angles:
Scenario 1: Great Escape - Europe of Contrast
Scenario 2: Evolved Society - Europe of Harmony
Scenario 3: Clustered Networks - Europe of Structure
Scenario 4: Lettuce Surprise U - Europe of Innovation
Scenario 5: Big Crisis - Europe of Cohesion

The last section is the LIBRARY. It allows you to explore and compare the scenario data and land use / landscape maps. These scenarios represent only five of many possible perspectives, and should not be taken as predictions. The purpose of PRELUDE is not to forecast what might happen, but to inspire and inform a discussion about the potential impacts of changes currently taking place in society on Europe‘s future land use and landscapes. 

Explore the PRELUDE scenarios