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Updated 16 September 2005

Vision and Framework for Strategy and Planning
Published August 2005


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Planning Context

Over the course of the 21st century, projections by most analyses of human activities related to global climate change indicate significant increases in both anthropogenic emissions of GHGs and their atmospheric concentrations. The projected increases result primarily from the economic activities associated with population growth and expansion of global development, accompanied by increasing use of fossil fuels, changes in land use, and increases in other GHG-emitting activities of industry, agriculture, and forestry.

Increased global energy use is also needed to help lift out of poverty the nearly 2 billion people who lack even the most basic access to modern energy services. Addressing this “energy poverty” is one of the world's key development objectives, as lack of energy services is associated with high rates of disease and child mortality.

Growing concern over projections of such increases in global greenhouse gas emissions, concentrations, and their potential consequences led 157 countries, in May 1992, to adopt the UNFCCC, or the Framework Convention. President Bush reaffirmed America’s commitment to the Framework Convention in 2002. The Framework Convention thus helps to form the context for the longer-term technology development strategies outlined in this CCTP Vision and Framework and, subsequently, for the forthcoming CCTP Strategic Plan.

For the purposes of long-term planning and the guiding of technology research, two considerations arise from the Framework Convention. First, the level of GHG concentrations implied by the Framework Convention’s ultimate objective is not yet known and will likely remain a key planning uncertainty for some time. Second, the Framework Convention’s ultimate objective, apart from its uncertainty regarding levels, implies an ambitious goal for technology. Stabilizing GHG concentrations at any atmospheric concentration level implies that global additions of GHGs to the atmosphere, and global withdrawals of GHGs from the atmosphere must come into balance. This means net emissions of GHGs would need to slow in growth, eventually peak, and decline, such that net emissions ultimately would approach levels that are low or near zero.


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