Emissions and land use - turning points

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Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions: Europe (million tonnes carbon)

In three of the four scenarios, Europe's total carbon dioxide emissions increase, diminishing the chances of eventual climate control. The shorter term target of the Kyoto Protocol may be met in a Policy First world, but certainly not in a Markets First or a Security First scenario.

Source: IMAGE 2.2 (see technical annex)

These changes in energy use, along with shifts in fuel use, are reflected in gaseous emissions, notably of carbon dioxide (see chart right). There are some striking differences between scenarios and subregions. The growth in emissions is quite significant in all regions in Markets First, with transport contributing a major share. The economic difficulties in Security First for Eastern Europe result in approximately the same level of emissions as in Policy First, where more proactive policy action prompts improved energy use and a switch to noncarbon fuels. In a Sustainability First situation, strong policy actions and changes in lifestyles, including the willingness of more people to shift to public transport, achieve significant reductions, heralding a turning-point in the battle to reduce human-induced climate change.

Land use change in Europe is affected by decisions related to spatial planning of development and transportation policies. It is also driven by the evolution of agricultural policy, including changes in agricultural trade regimes and the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. In the Markets First scenario, the built-up area grows over time in Western Europe (see below). Elsewhere, population decline leads to a stable or modest decrease in the total built-up area in Markets First and throughout the region in Policy First and Sustainability First, where already compact settlement patterns combine with lower population growth to reduce the need for expansion of built-up areas. In Security First, rising populations and more sprawling settlements trigger sizeable growth of built-up areas in Western Europe but little increase in the rest of the region.

Extent of built-up areas: Europe (% of total land area)

Source: PoleStar (see technical annex)

Land area impacted by infrastructure expansion: Europe (% of total land area)

Much of Central and Western Europe has been directly converted to farmland. The few remaining lowdisturbance areas are limited to Scandinavia and protected areas, where tourism and recreational development is putting increasingly greater strain on mountain ecosystems. Restoration of former wetlands has begun, but still on a much smaller scale than the continued development of infrastructure.

Source: GLOBIO (see technical annex)

At the same time, continued development of roads, plantations and other human works will lead to the extension of infrastructure throughout the region and in all scenarios, with a general increase in levels of impact (see chart above). Even so, careful policies - including restrictions on the siting of infrastructure - can help to lessen the effect of this expansion. This potential is most evident in Eastern Europe. In Markets First and Security First, rising pressures to develop resources and infrastructure reduce remaining biodiversity. Impacts include loss of reindeer and wolf populations and of many insects and plants adapted to farmed conditions. To restore lost habitat, particularly where lost agro-ecosystems and wetlands are concerned, would require Sustainability First conditions.

These pressures play a role in determining landbased biodiversity in the region. Europe must also contend with the effects of changing climate conditions, including those determined by greenhouse gas emissions that have already occurred. Overall, differences between the various scenarios by 2032 are small, owing to the delayed effect of climatic changes over foregoing decades. Furthermore, in the short term, the greater regional and global reductions in sulphur oxides and other pollutants seen in Policy First and Sustainability First actually result in faster climate change, increasing the pressure on ecosystems. However, present-day initiatives such as the EU's Natura 2000 take effect and pan-European networks of protected areas and green corridors are launched to protect biodiversity more effectively in Sustainability First and possibly in Policy First, too. Effective action to rehabilitate former agricultural land as additional habitats for wildlife also plays an important role. This is reflected in the somewhat better results for the Natural Capital Index (see chart below) in Sustainability First.

Shifts in agriculture, along with improved technologies, management practices and shifts in crop choices reduce overall water demand in agriculture in all scenarios other than Security First. Under the Markets First scenario, however, economic development still leads to sharp increases in overall water demand, especially in Eastern and Central Europe. With these increases comes expansion of areas in the severe water stress category. Overall demand in a Security First scenario is similar, with the greater population by comparison with Markets First somewhat offset by reduced economic activity.

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The situation is very different under the Policy First and Sustainability First scenarios, where structural changes lead to reductions in water withdrawals in all sectors across Europe. Through these continuing efforts to save water, some of the river basins that currently experience severe water stress, no longer do so under these scenarios. With this advance, the number of people who live in areas with severe water stress drops significantly. These changes are most dramatic in Sustainability First, where declines in meat consumption augment policies, such as water pricing, introduced in the other scenarios. Differences in the amount of wastewater that is purified and industrial recycling of water amplify the differences between the scenarios. These changes are reflected in the number of persons subject to water stress in the sub-regions across the different scenarios (see charts below). Potential problems related to water stress in Policy First and Sustainability First are reduced by full implementation of the Water Framework Directive and agreements regarding regional seas. Meanwhile, these problems intensify in a Security First world, leading to conflict over water and contamination from uncontrolled industrial activity and the inability to deal with the legacies of former lax policies.

Natural Capital Index: Europe

An index of 100 is the situation when total land area is undomesticated and all pressures are below the minimum threshold (see technical annex). Reduction in the Natural Capital Index indicates habitat loss and increasing pressure on terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity. As the pressure from agriculture stabilizes and starts to decrease, the general biodiversity situation in Europe over 30 years does not deviate much from the present.

Source: IMAGE 2.2 (see technical annex)

Population living in areas with severe water stress: Europe (%)

When more than 40 per cent of the renewable water resources of a river basin are being withdrawn for human use the river basin is considered to be under severe water stress. Water stress in Europe is as much about water quality as it is about water quantity, and due to high water withdrawals many of Europe's waters are severely overused. However, in regions in which demand for industrial purposes dominates the water use sector, water can often be heavily reused, mitigating the effects of severe water stress.

Source: WaterGAP 2.1 (see technical annex)

Number of people living in areas with severe water stress: Europe (million persons)

All the pie charts show total region impacts. The top left pie shows the current situation, the relative size of the others reflects the magnitude of impacts by 2032 under the four scenarios.

Source: WaterGAP 2.1 (see technical annex)