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Cut carbon and live well


Cutting carbon emissions to limit global temperatures to a 2°C rise can be achieved while improving living standards, a new online tool shows.

The world can eat well, travel more, live in more comfortable homes and meet international carbon reduction commitments, according to a new Global Calculator tool that launched today.

But we must act now: the amount of CO2 emitted per unit of electricity globally would need to fall by at least 90% and our forests protected and expanded by 5-15% by 2050.

‘Ambitious targets’

The project was led by the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change and co-funded by Climate-KIC.

‘The calculator clearly highlights that we can meet our 2°C target while maintaining good lifestyles – but we need to set ambitious targets on all fronts and use innovation to address climate change.

‘The challenge to find new commercially viable business models is considerable – but for those organisations who succeed, the reward is even greater. The calculator provides a framework for policy makers and business leaders to create an environment where this is possible.’

Dr Mike Cherrett, Climate-KIC’s director of operations and international partnerships

Roadmap to 2050

Built in collaboration with a number of international organisations from the US, China, India and Europe, the calculator is an interactive tool for businesses, NGOs and governments to consider the options for cutting carbon emissions and the trade-offs for energy and land use to 2050.

‘For the first time this Global Calculator shows that everyone in the world can prosper while limiting global temperature rises to 2°C, preventing the most serious impacts of climate change.

‘Yet the calculator is also very clear that we must act now to change how we use and generate energy and how we use our land if we are going to achieve this green growth.

‘The UK is leading on climate change both at home and abroad. Britain’s global calculator can help the world’s crucial climate debate this year. 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.’

Edward Davey, energy and climate change secretary

Acting now

Using data reviewed by over 150 international experts, this free and interactive tool shows that, despite expectations that the world’s population will rise from its current 7 billion to 10 billion by 2050, it is physically possible for everyone to have a good standard of living while limiting global temperature rises to 2°C.

But the tool also shows that the world needs to act now and transform the technologies and fuels we use, while also making smarter use of our land for food, forestry and fuel.

Global vision

In 2010, DECC published the ‘UK 2050 Calculator’, a simple and transparent online tool that allows anyone to explore all the potential energy futures for the UK to 2050, and the impacts on energy security, costs, land use, air quality and emissions.

This tool was used to explore and communicate the options for the UK’s energy system to 2050, within the UK Government’s 2011 ‘Carbon Plan’.

While country-level calculator tools are useful, they can’t tell us how actions add up at a global level or what risks we face if we don’t take action to reduce global emissions. This is why Decc, with joint funding from Climate KIC, has led a range of global partners to build a global version.

The UK Calculator has also proved useful outside government; organisations such as Friends of the Earth and the National Grid have used it to better understand the choices and trade-offs facing the UK.

Try the Global Calculator at or visit Climate-KIC’s website to find out the current level of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere.

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