Energy productivity and decarbonization of the global economy: Factor five resource productivity

Hargroves, Karlson, Desha, Cheryl, & Weisaecker, Ernst Von (2016) Energy productivity and decarbonization of the global economy: Factor five resource productivity. WIREs, 5(1), pp. 57-67.

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In the 21st Century much of the world will experience untold wealth and prosperity that could not even be conceived only some three centuries before. However as with most, if not all, of the human civilisations, increases in prosperity have accumulated significant environmental impacts that threaten to result in environmentally induced economic decline. A key part of the world’s response to this challenge is to rapidly decarbonise economies around the world, with options to achieve 60-80 per cent improvements (i.e. in the order of Factor 5) in energy and water productivity now available and proven in every sector. Drawing upon the 2009 publication “Factor 5”, in this paper we discuss how to realise such large-scale improvements, involving complexity beyond technical and process innovation. We begin by considering the concept of greenhouse gas stabilisation trajectories that include reducing current greenhouse gas emissions to achieve a ‘peaking’ of global emissions, and subsequent ‘tailing’ of emissions to the desired endpoint in ‘decarbonising’ the economy. Temporal priorities given to peaking and tailing have significant implications for the mix of decarbonising solutions and the need for government and market assistance in causing them to be implemented, requiring careful consideration upfront. Within this context we refer to a number of examples of Factor 5 style opportunities for energy productivity and decarbonisation, and then discuss the need for critical economic contributions to take such success from examples to central mechanisms in decarbonizing the global economy.

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ID Code: 86479
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1002/wene.181
ISSN: 2041-840X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > CIVIL ENGINEERING (090500) > Infrastructure Engineering and Asset Management (090505)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING (090700) > Environmental Technologies (090703)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ECONOMICS (140000) > APPLIED ECONOMICS (140200) > Economic Development and Growth (140202)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Copyright Statement: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: WIREs, 5,1, pp. 57-67, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Deposited On: 27 Aug 2015 01:37
Last Modified: 16 May 2016 09:58

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