More energy needed to cope with climate change

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A new study published today in Nature Communications by researchers from IIASA, Boston University and the Ca' Foscari University of Venice found that by mid-century, climate change will increase the demand for energy globally, even with modest warming.

The world is dependent on energy both for human wellbeing and societal development. However, is also one of the human systems that is most directly influenced by changes in climate, so it's crucial to gain insight into the impacts of on energy demand.

Most previous studies explored this topic for a single country or continent, or for a single sector (mostly households). In addition, researchers only employed climate projections from either a single climate model, or from only a few. In this new study, the authors did a global analysis using temperature projections from 21 climate models, and population and economy projections for five socioeconomic scenarios. This information was analyzed with a statistical model that calculated changes in demand for three fuels and four economic sectors to determine how energy demand would shift relative to today's climate under modest and high-warming scenarios around 2050.

Compared to baseline scenarios in which energy demand is driven by population and income growth alone, the findings indicate that climate change increases the global demand for energy around 2050 by 11 to 27 percent with modest warming, and 25 to 58 percent with vigorous warming. Large areas of the tropics, as well as southern Europe, China and the U.S., are likely to experience the highest increases. The largest changes in demand are due to electricity needed for cooling, and occur in the industry and service sectors of the economy.

The magnitude of the increase depends on three uncertain factors: the future pathways of global greenhouse gas emissions, the different ways that climate models use this information to project future hot and cold temperature extremes in various world regions, and the manner in which countries' energy consumption patterns change under different scenarios of future increases in population and income.

"An important way in which society will adapt to rising temperatures from climate change is by increasing cooling during hot seasons and decreasing heating during cold seasons. Changes in space conditioning directly impact energy systems, as firms and households demand less natural gas, petroleum, and electricity to meet lower heating needs, and more electricity to satisfy higher cooling needs," explains study coauthor Enrica de Cian from the Ca' Foscari University of Venice and the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change (CMCC).

"Whether future warming will cause the demand for energy to increase or decrease is a crucial question," adds study coauthor Ian Sue Wing, a researcher at Boston University. "If energy use rises and leads to additional emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, increased energy consumption for air conditioning could make it more difficult and costly to mitigate future warming. Quantifying this risk requires understanding how the demand for energy by different types of consumers in different climates will be affected by warming. The results of our study can in the future be used to calculate how energy market dynamics will ultimately determine changes in energy consumption and emissions."

According to the authors, an important qualification is that the study's findings represent the initial impacts of global warming. They do not account for the additional adjustments in fuel supplies and prices, and subsequent substitution responses by producers and consumers around the world that such impacts will trigger. While these forces are likely to lead to ultimate changes in energy consumption that are less extreme, they also incur adaptation costs that will affect the broader economy and household incomes.

"The lower the level of income per person, the larger the share of income that families need to spend to adapt to a given increase in energy demand," says Bas van Ruijven, a researcher with the IIASA Energy Program and lead author of the study. "Some scenarios in our study assume continued population growth and in those cases temperature increases by 2050 could expose half a billion people in the lowest-income countries in the Middle-East and Africa to increases in demand of 25 percent or higher. The poor face challenges to adaptation that are not only financial—in areas that have unreliable electricity supplies, or lack grid connections altogether, increased exposure to hot days increases the risk of heat-related illnesses and mortality."

While societies are doing their best to mitigate climate change, policymakers have to be aware that even moderate levels of change will lead to increases in for several areas around the world. Economic development in impoverished countries will be essential to help people adapt to the .

Explore further

2018 spike in energy demand spells climate trouble: IEA

More information: Bas J. van Ruijven et al. Amplification of future energy demand growth due to climate change, Nature Communications (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-10399-3
Journal information: Nature Communications

Citation: More energy needed to cope with climate change (2019, June 24) retrieved 22 October 2019 from
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Jun 24, 2019
What can be called an effective swindle for increasing demand for a boondoggle investment, "alternative energy". First, push that it's needed to stop dependence on "fossil fuels", then declare it's actually necessary to stop "climate change".
In fact, "alternative energy" damages the environment, itself.
Turning wind energy into electricity, windmills take some of the ability of the wind to do work away. But wind moves seed, distributes topsoil and moderates temperatures over large areas. Already, areas downwind of windmill farms are warmer than normal. With large areas of shiny surfaces, solar farms prevent clouds from forming, superheat dust in the air and create a massive disparity between the temperature of the air and the ground. Already, solar farms are being described as producing "heat island' effects likes cities! It's chemtrails not "fossil fuels" that cause the changing weather.

Jun 24, 2019
Turning wind energy into electricity, windmills take some of the ability of the wind to do work away. But wind moves seed
wind turbines will not take away all the wind and there be plenty of wind left over to disperse wild seeds. Trees deduce wind
distributes topsoil
this is called soil erosion. If it reduces soil erosion then that is probably a net good thing.
and moderates temperatures over large areas.
Yes, including allowing more heat to move from the tropics to the poles where it will melt ice and cause sea levels to rise.
Already, areas downwind of windmill farms are warmer than normal.
Less wind won't make much difference to the global temperature. In contrast, more CO2 will.
With large areas of shiny surfaces, solar farms prevent clouds from forming
Now you are making crap up (lies)
superheat dust in the air
...yet more made up crap (lies).
Are you working for the fossil fuel industry?

Jun 24, 2019
While societies are doing their best to mitigate climate change...

They are? You coulda fooled me.

Jun 25, 2019
Solar farms are best in desert climates where heat is a constant environment, and not many plants or animals are affected. In fact, solar photovoltaic is so beneficial and effort free to maintain as opposed to coal fired boiler/turbine power, for instance that to choose any other than fotovoltaics becomes foolish. We have hundreds thousands of hectares of deserts suitable for solar farms, and the transmission lines to usage areas/storage areas are known technology. Solar efficiency is increasing year by year with new discoveries much like Moore's Law. And energy storage/batteries/supercapacitors are also improving.
That said, we need to also keep up nuclear power developement with an eye to use in space, for we are not always going to be near our star in our pursuit of the rare earth elements in the asteroid belt to keep our industro/techical society running. We will need ever more powerful and light and compact and easy to run nuclear and later fusion systems in space.

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