IPCC SRES revisited: A response

Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Arnulf Grübler, Stuard Gaffin, Tae Tong Jung, Tom Kram, Tsuneyuki Morita, Hugh Pither, Keywan Riahi, Michael Schlesinger, P. R. Shukla, Detlef Van Vuuren, Ged Davis, Laurie Michaelis, Rob Swart, Nadja Victor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Mr. Castles and Mr. Henderson have criticized the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) and other aspects of IPCC assessments. It is claimed that the methodology is "technically unsound" because market exchange rates (MER) are used instead of purchasing power parities (PPP) and that the scenarios themselves are flawed because the GDP growth in the developing regions is too high. The response is: • The IPCC SRES reviews existing literature, most of which is MER based, including that from the World Bank, IEA and USDoE. • Scenarios of GDP growth are typically expressed as MER (the preferred measure for GDP growth, as opposed to PPP which is a preferred measure for assessing differences in economic welfare). • IPCC scenarios did include PPP-based scenarios, which Mr. Castles and Mr. Henderson have conveniently ignored. • Contrary to what Mr. Castles and Mr. Henderson claim, IPCC scenarios are consistent with historical data, including that from 1990 to 2000, and with the most recent near term (up to 2020) projections of other agencies. • Long-term emissions are based on multiple, interdependent driving forces, and not just economic growth. Mr. Castles and Mr. Henderson need to look beyond GDP. • The IPPC scenarios provided information for only four world regions, and not for specific countries. Mr. Castles' and Mr. Henderson's critique is not of IPCC scenarious but of ongoing unpublished work in progress that is not part of SRES. We therefore show that Mr. Castles and Mr. Henderson have focused on constructing a "problem" that does not exist. SRES scenarios are sound and the IPCC has responded seriously and conscientiously. We detail our response below in nine sections. After and introduction (Section 1), we outline the SRES methodology for measuring economic output (Section 2). Section 3 compares SRES to long-historical economic development and provides five responses to the critics. Section 4 addresse the issue of country-level economic projections even if not part SRES. Sections 5, 6 and 7 validate the SRES scenarios by comparing them with recent trends for economic and CO2 emission growth, as well as more recent scenarios available in the literature. Section 8 refutes the argument that lower economic growth in developing countries would lower GHG emissions correspondingly. Section 9 concludes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-214
Number of pages28
JournalEnergy and Environment
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Energy (miscellaneous)


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