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New online tool helps businesses, governments and individuals explore low carbon worlds

Erica ThompsonThe climate outcomes of different lifestyle and energy choices can now be explored by anyone, thanks to an online tool. Dr Erica Thompson of LSE’s Centre for the Analysis of Time Series (CATS) was the lead climate scientist for the project, which draws on the latest scientific results from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to highlight the range of possible impacts resulting from different energy choices.

The Global Calculator is an interactive tool for businesses and individuals, NGOs and governments. It allows anyone to consider the various options for cutting carbon emissions and the trade-offs for energy and land use to 2050. It suggests that the world can eat well, travel more and live in more comfortable homes while meeting international carbon reduction commitments.

Dr Erica Thompson and Professor Leonard Smith of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) are two of the many academics around the world involved in creating the Global Calculator tool, which was launched simultaneously in London and in China this week (28 January) by the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change. After the launch, Dr Thompson said “"Working on the Global Calculator project has not only been a fascinating and challenging project in communicating the latest climate science, but also a great way to get more involved with government and business decision-makers, see the world from their perspective, and understand when and how scientific outputs are used to inform real-world decisions."

Lenny SmithProfessor Leonard Smith, Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Times Series (CATS) at LSE, said: “Erica has taken the statistics reported by the IPCC and enabled people to explore the space of different futures defined by their choices on life style and how we generate our energy.”

The Calculator allows you to get a glimpse of how different choices interact, allowing you to take on the role of a global policy maker, define your own pathways balancing a wide variety of options, and see how they interact to shape costs and climate. It is open source, so anyone who doubts its outputs can look inside and see why it reports what it reports. Transparency and clarity were key aims of the project.

Dr Thompson worked with a consortium of advisors from the Climate-KIC academic community to construct an accessible, understandable interface between the energy system inputs and the latest climate science. The expertise of LSE's Centre for the Analysis of Time Series in quantifying and communicating uncertainty in climate projections made CATS an ideal partner for the Global Calculator project team.

“The value of the calculator is that it gives you easy access to the implications of the IPCC’s results,” said Smith “You change the levers and it works out the implied implications, making it much easier to see what really matters and grasp the big picture.”

Dr Thompson is a post-doctoral Research Officer in LSE’s CATS, her work is funded by NERC's network on Probability, Uncertainty, and Risk in the Environment (PURE), DECC and Climate-KIC.

Professor Smith is Director of LSE’s CATS. He currently a member of the ASA Advisory Committee on Climate Change Policy (ACCCP) . His research has challenged climate models to clarify the limits beyond which current models should not be interpreted as quantitative projections or probabilities and pressed for credible science-based policymaking. See: http://www.lse.ac.uk/researchAndExpertise/researchImpact/caseStudies/smith-leonard-science-based-climate-change-predictions.aspx

Read the DECC’s press release on the Global Calculator here 

29 January 2015