skip to Main Content

Technology Is Not Enough: Climate Change, Population, Affluence, and Consumption

Mitchell, Ronald B.. 2012. Technology Is Not Enough: Climate Change, Population, Affluence, and Consumption. The Journal of Environment and Development, 21(1): 24-27.

Abstract

Reducing human emissions of carbon dioxide by 80% by 2100 requires more than technological innovation. Historical rates of emissions decline due to such innovation of about 0.7% are insufficient to offset the 3% growth in emissions that stems from population and per capita income growth. Existing scientific and political debates are dominated by a “technophilic optimism” that projects emission reductions from technological improvement that are not supported by the evidence. If we fail to develop policies proactively to constrain population, affluence, and consumption while respecting other human values, we will almost certainly face impacts from climate change that constrain population, affluence, and consumption for us.

Recent publications

Assessing the effectiveness of orchestrated climate action from five years of summits
Five years of climate action and summitry have taught us valuable lessons. Orchestrators of climate action can positively influence performance by setting minimum requirements for credibility and robustness among the initiatives they engage.
Transforming Biodiversity Governance
Edited by Ingrid J. Visseren-Hamakers, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, Marcel T. J. Kok, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
2021 Annual Report
The Earth System Governance Project seeks to mobilise and advance scholarship at the interface between global environmental change and governance. Discover how by learning more about the project in this summary of 2021!