Advancing Sustainability in a Competitive World Peter Willis South African Director University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership. Our Exuberant Journey to Here. The Population Take-Off. X 3,5 in 100 years. More ‘Stuff’ per Person. X 10 in 100 years. The Turning Point?.
Advancing Sustainability in a Competitive World
South African Director
University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership
Our Exuberant Journey to Here
The Population Take-Off
X 3,5 in 100 years
More ‘Stuff’ per Person
X 10 in 100 years
The Turning Point?
In 1712, Thomas Newcomen’s steam engine was deployed to pump water from flooded mines in Dudley, England… by turning heat into motion.
Our Recent Encounter with Hard Limits
“Anyone who believes continuous growth is possible on a finite Earth is either a madman or an economist.”
Kenneth Boulding (Economist)
A Rather Dry Planet
Fresh water: 0.76%
Drinking water: c.0.1%
Spheres showing:(1) All water (sphere over western U.S., 860 miles in diameter) (2) Fresh liquid water in the ground, lakes, swamps, and rivers (sphere over Kentucky, 169.5 miles in diameter), and (3) Fresh-water lakes and rivers (sphere over Georgia, 34.9 miles in diameter). Credit: Dr Adam Nieman
SA Portion of River Basin
0 – 100 = Water security
100 – 500 = Water sufficiency
500 – 1 000 = Occasional, seasonal water stress
1 000 – 2 000 = Frequent water stress; seasonally severe
> 2 000 = “Beyond the water barrier” - chronic water stress
“Water Crowding Index”
Water Crowding Index (WCI) = Number of people per million cubic metres of water – (South African catchment portion)
Source: Dr Peter Ashton, CSIR 2010
1. Dramatic increase in urban sector demand for water in all basins
2. Large increase in power sector demand for water in the Orange-
Senqu and Limpopo basins
3. Increased water demands from rural and mining sectors in
Anticipated % Increase in Water Needs by Sector - 2025
& Other Resources
The Economy = Mobility
The Oil Dependency of Transport
Source: IEA Key Energy Statistics & WEO 2010 (data for 2008)
“The consumption of the world’s accessible oil endowment
will occur over a two-century span of human history”
M. King Hubbert – c. 1955
The End of Easy Oil
IEA via The Guardian,2009
No Electricity – Mobility Fails
India: 31 July 2012
The End of Cheap Coal?
The End of Cheap Everything?
Our Very Own, First Ever
The Greenhouse Effect
Up to c.1850
CO2 & other gases
Global Temperature Rising
Poles Warming Faster
Sudden Non-Linear Changes
Extent of surface melt over Greenland’s ice sheet on July 8 2012 (left) and July 12 (right). Satellites showed that on July 8, about 40% of the ice sheet had undergone thawing at or near the surface. In just a few days, the melting had dramatically accelerated and an estimated 97% of the ice sheet surface had thawed by July 12.
Source: UNEP, 2006
A Drier (and Wetter) Future
US National Center for Atmospheric Research:“Drought Under Global Warming – A Review” Oct 2010
Drought in US
Consequences are likely to be very serious
High probability of serious water, food, ecosystem and extreme weather effects
Source: IPCC 3rd Assessment Report. 2007.
Climate change exacerbates existing threats
and generates new ones
Number of people affected by climate-related disasters
No. of people affected (millions)
Source: UNEP GEO-4 report
What are our Options?
Why +2˚C threshold is so important
Cost to Society
How can we Mitigate?
Moderate population growth
Reduce demand (i.e. quantitative growth)
Maximise energy efficiency
Lower carbon intensity of energy supply
Implications for Labour Law?
Our Exuberant Journey to Here