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UK Tool Shows Long-Term Climate Impacts on Energy, Land and Food Systems

The United Kingdom government has launched a new tool to help businesses and governments understand the environmental impacts of energy and emissions policies.

The Global Calculator — produced with input from more than 150 experts worldwide — is a model of the world's energy, land and food systems that allows users to design their own version of the future up to 2050 and see the implications for the climate.

Soft launched in 2010, the online tool has previously only been used exclusively by governments such as China and India. China has been using the calculator to support the development of its economic and energy strategy, and to train officials on the energy challenges it faces.

"Britain's global calculator can help the world's crucial climate debate this year,” said UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey, “Along with the many country-based 2050 calculators we pioneered, we are working hard to demonstrate to the global family that climate action benefits people."

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The calculator focuses on the UN-led 2C global warming limit, and shows that the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of electricity must fall by 90 percent by 2050. In addition, buildings in 2050 must be 50 to 65 percent better insulated and cars 50 percent more efficient.

The International Energy Agency has programmed a 'business as usual' scenario on the calculator, where greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at their current rate, reaching 84.3 gigatons annually. The high-end temperature rise from these emissions is 6.6C by 2100.

Another preset scenario is a 'Friends of the Earth' option, where the planet produces zero net emissions by 2050. The change is driven by a tripling of transport efficiency and a quadrupling of building efficiency — renewables will also produce around 72 percent of electricity.

Shell and the Vegan Society also have preloaded scenarios on the calculator. Shell focused on tackling energy issues while the Vegan Society imagined a less carbon-intensive, meatless diet.

A PwC report released late last year found that global economies must cut their energy-related carbon emissions for every dollar of GDP by 6.2 percent — more than five times the rate currently achieved — every year from now to 2100 in order to to limit global warming to 2°C.

In 2013, The Climate Reality Project and communications agency Arnold Worldwide launched Reality Drop, a social media tool that educates users about the reality of climate change and uses modern gaming techniques to combat climate-change deniers. The tool curates hundreds of online news articles daily that demand a response — whether it’s a misleading quote from a climate denier or a heated debate raging in the comments section. It also catalogs more than a hundred of the most pervasive climate myths and distills complex science into simple and succinct rebuttals that can be shared on social networks or on comment threads beneath news articles.

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