Business-as-Usual Scenario – In Short
By 2050, the total world population is projected to reach 9.5 billion people – an increase of a third against the current population. These people will need resources, from food, land and water, to materials to produce homes to live in and products to use. Such growth in population is likely to be centred in developing countries, in which increasing wealth is likely to continue the trend of increasingly ‘westernised’ patterns of consumption (includes a change in diet preferences towards increased meat consumption)
In this scenario, an increased focus and ambition on decarbonisation and resource-efficiency fails to materialise, either internationally or in the EU. This lack of attention (either by policy makers or civil society), along with the growth in global population and livestock to feed them, induces a rapid increase in demand for resources of all kinds (from fossil fuels to agricultural land). This demand, in turn producing increasing scarcity of such resources, leads to rapid price increases of all such commodities.
Such prices inevitably increase the cost of living for the population, with effects likely to be felt more dramatically in low-income sections of society. As such, the incidence of poverty may increase substantially. As a consequence, consumers have less disposable income to spend less on other consumer goods such as computers, cars, furniture, which have more value added than the agricultural sector. As a consequence, economic growth would come under pressure, and decrease from current levels (both in the EU and globally). Unemployment would also likely increase.
As no efforts are made to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels (beyond market dynamics in response to price increases), a global emission trajectory leading to 4–6 degrees of warming would be expected. As such an increasing incidence of climate change-related events, along with conflict over under-pressure global resources, may further exacerbate economic and social strife.