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van Vuuren D.P.,Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency | Riahi K.,International Institute For Applied Systems Analysis
Climatic Change | Year: 2011

The relationship between long-term climate goals and short/medium-term emission targets forms crucial information for the design of international climate policy. Since IPCC's 4th Assessment Report (AR4), a large number of new scenario studies have been published. This paper reviews this new literature and finds that there is more flexibility in the timing of short-term emission reductions compared to the earlier scenarios assessed by the AR4. For instance, the current literature suggests that a peak of emissions in 2020 and even 2030 would be consistent with limiting temperature change to about 2°C in the long term. The timing when emissions peak depends on whether negative emissions in the long-term can be achieved. The recent scenarios further indicate that global emissions by 2050 should be 40-80% below 2000 levels. Above all, the paper argues that there is no clear, single "law" that would directly determine the required emissions levels in 2020, but that instead policy-makers need to consider trade-offs between the likelihood of achieving long-term targets, the short-term costs, and their expectation with respect to future technologies (and their possible failure). The higher flexibility might be important in finding acceptable agreements on international climate policy. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

de Hartog J.J.,University Utrecht | Boogaard H.,University Utrecht | Nijland H.,Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency | Hoek G.,University Utrecht
Environmental Health Perspectives | Year: 2010

Background: Although from a societal point of view a modal shift from car to bicycle may have beneficial health effects due to decreased air pollution emissions, decreased greenhouse gas emissions, and increased levels of physical activity, shifts in individual adverse health effects such as higher exposure to air pollution and risk of a traffic accident may prevail. Objective: We describe whether the health benefits from the increased physical activity of a modal shift for urban commutes outweigh the health risks. Data sources and extraction: We have summarized the literature for air pollution, traffic accidents, and physical activity using systematic reviews supplemented with recent key studies. Data synthesis: We quantified the impact on all-cause mortality when 500,000 people would make a transition from car to bicycle for short trips on a daily basis in the Netherlands. We have expressed mortality impacts in life-years gained or lost, using life table calculations. For individuals who shift from car to bicycle, we estimated that beneficial effects of increased physical activity are substantially larger (3-14 months gained) than the potential mortality effect of increased inhaled air pollution doses (0.8-40 days lost) and the increase in traffic accidents (5-9 days lost). Societal benefits are even larger because of a modest reduction in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and traffic accidents. Conclusions: On average, the estimated health benefits of cycling were substantially larger than the risks relative to car driving for individuals shifting their mode of transport.

Waha K.,Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research | Van Bussel L.G.J.,Wageningen University | Van Bussel L.G.J.,Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency | Muller C.,Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research | Bondeau A.,Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
Global Ecology and Biogeography | Year: 2012

Aim To simulate the sowing dates of 11 major annual crops at the global scale at high spatial resolution, based on climatic conditions and crop-specific temperature requirements. Location Global. Methods Sowing dates under rainfed conditions are simulated deterministically based on a set of rules depending on crop- and climate-specific characteristics. We assume that farmers base their timing of sowing on experiences with past precipitation and temperature conditions, with the intra-annual variability being especially important. The start of the growing period is assumed to be dependent either on the onset of the wet season or on the exceeding of a crop-specific temperature threshold for emergence. To validate our methodology, a global data set of observed monthly growing periods (MIRCA2000) is used. Results We show simulated sowing dates for 11 major field crops world-wide and give rules for determining their sowing dates in a specific climatic region. For all simulated crops, except for rapeseed and cassava, in at least 50% of the grid cells and on at least 60% of the cultivated area, the difference between simulated and observed sowing dates is less than 1 month. Deviations of more than 5 months occur in regions characterized by multiple-cropping systems, in tropical regions which, despite seasonality, have favourable conditions throughout the year, and in countries with large climatic gradients. Main conclusions Sowing dates under rainfed conditions for various annual crops can be satisfactorily estimated from climatic conditions for large parts of the earth. Our methodology is globally applicable, and therefore suitable for simulating sowing dates as input for crop growth models applied at the global scale and taking climate change into account. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Boons F.,Erasmus University Rotterdam | Mendoza A.,Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
Journal of Cleaner Production | Year: 2010

Biofuels as a renewable source of energy have gained considerable importance in recent years. The use of biofuels is expected to rise since national governments of developed nations like the US and European countries see it as one of the ways to fulfill climate targets and increase the security in their energy supply. Production of biofuels is also expected to rise as developing nations see in biofuels the opportunity for connecting to international markets through supplying a new demand in the energy market. Several studies report on the environmental, social and economic gains and detriments that can arise from increased biofuel production and consumption. However, research that provides insight into the way in which such issues are defined by actors within the product chain is scarce. In this article we analyse how the strategies and value definitions of actors involved in the production and consumption of biofuels lead to specific definitions of sustainability. The empirical material concerns the chain of palm oil production in Colombia and electricity generation in the Netherlands. It is analysed using the method of action-in-context, which allows us to uncover the level and source of diversity of sustainability definitions in the product chain. While the current growth in production of palm oil is definitely buyer driven, the analysis of various activities in the chain shows that several aspects of sustainability are defined in more complex actor fields throughout the product chain. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Benitez-Lopez A.,Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency | Alkemade R.,Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency | Verweij P.A.,University Utrecht
Biological Conservation | Year: 2010

Biodiversity is being lost at an increased rate as a result of human activities. One of the major threats to biodiversity is infrastructural development. We used meta-analyses to study the effects of infrastructure proximity on mammal and bird populations. Data were gathered from 49 studies on 234 mammal and bird species. The main response by mammals and birds in the vicinity of infrastructure was either avoidance or a reduced population density. The mean species abundance, relative to non-disturbed distances (MSA), was used as the effect size measure. The impact of infrastructure distance on MSA was studied using meta-analyses. Possible sources of heterogeneity in the results of the meta-analysis were explored with meta-regression. Mammal and bird population densities declined with their proximity to infrastructure. The effect of infrastructure on bird populations extended over distances up to about 1. km, and for mammal populations up to about 5. km. Mammals and birds seemed to avoid infrastructure in open areas over larger distances compared to forested areas, which could be related to the reduced visibility of the infrastructure in forested areas. We did not find a significant effect of traffic intensity on the MSA of birds. Species varied in their response to infrastructure. Raptors were found to be more abundant in the proximity of infrastructure whereas other bird taxa tended to avoid it. Abundances were affected at variable distances from infrastructure: within a few meters for small-sized mammals and up to several hundred meters for large-sized mammals. Our findings show the importance of minimizing infrastructure development for wildlife conservation in relatively undisturbed areas. By combining actual species distributions with the effect distance functions we developed, regions sensitive to infrastructure development may be identified. Additionally, the effect distance functions can be used in models in support of decision making on infrastructure planning. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

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