Aim This paper identifies socio-economic driving forces of biodiversity change and analyses their political and economic dynamics by modelling socio-economic parts of three scenario storylines developed for the ALARM (assessing large-scale risks for biodiversity with tested methods) project. In the BAMBU (business-as-might-be-usual) scenario policy decisions already made in the European Union (EU) are implemented and enforced, but no additional measures are introduced. The GRAS (growth applied strategy) scenario describes a future world orientated towards economic growth and complete deregulation. And finally, SEDG (sustainable European development goal) is a normative scenario focusing on the achievement of sustainable development.
Methods The GINFORS (global inter-industry forecasting system) model is applied to quantify the effects of different sets of policy measures representing the three scenarios. It allows investigation of the inter-relations between socio-economic driving forces and the state of the environment.
Results The presented results for the 25 EU countries focus on the following variables: unemployment, material extraction, energy supply and CO2 emissions. The lowest amount of unemployment is in the SEDG scenario, where it steadily decreases from 2005 to 2020. In BAMBU it falls to a level that is also below that of 2005. In GRAS, the number of unemployed people in 2020 is clearly over the value of 2005. The development of total material extraction from 2005 to 2020 is nearly stable in BAMBU, while it clearly increases in GRAS. Only in SEDG is there a reduction in resource use. None of the scenarios achieves a substantial reduction in energy use. However, the development of CO2 emissions shows a decoupling from energy supply. For BAMBU there is a slight decline in CO2 emissions over time, for GRAS they increase but with a slightly smaller growth rate than energy supply. In SEDG the emissions are reduced. The decoupling trends can be explained by a shift to more renewable energy sources in all scenarios, with the highest share in SEDG.
Main conclusions The results indicate that a growth-oriented policy design, such as presented in the GRAS scenario, is not compatible with the conservation of biodiversity. Only in the SEDG scenario do the policy measures support the idea of a sustainable development, but in some respects they are still not ambitious enough.