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The following assumptions about society help to form a picture of what life would be like
for Europeans in 2050. These assumptions also inform the consideration of the policy
measures needed in this Scenario to reach the One Planet Economy goal:
The EU must take strong measures to limit population growth both in Europe, but
more importantly in the rest of the world in the face of increasing demand at a
time when technological innovation is stagnant and global shortages (e.g. of fossil
fuels and agricultural land) are pushing up prices. In some European countries,
life expectancy stagnates; in others it falls.
LIFE IN EUROPE IN 2050
The global struggle for increasingly scarce energy and raw materials resources
needed to meet spiralling demand is the dominant theme of life in this world.
Eventually, uncertainty shocks10 force the people of this unwilling world to decrease their
consumption levels – this is done by the imposition of draconian government measures.
The industrialised and emerging countries of today
fight to protect their large tracts of land in developing countries which they bought to
secure resources and food production. Armed conflicts have become more numerous and
international cooperation is limited to securing resources rather than promoting global
In this future, European society is strongly divided and work-obsessed. There is
a large social gap between the very few who can still afford affluent lifestyles and the
masses that have been forced to significantly reduce their overall levels of material
consumption. The impact of increasing prices for materials, products and services means
that people have not seen significant increases in real wages for the last four decades. To
compensate, people work long hours and many are unable to take even short holidays.
The average age of retirement has increased significantly.
Energy rationing becomes the norm. The rich, however, can afford to pay the upfront
capital investments required to save energy (in their homes through efficiency
renovations and by purchasing ―best practice‖ products, and vehicles that run on
biofuels). Many of the poor cannot afford to pay the up-front costs of these goods and
must use their energy ration sparingly. Due to high electricity prices, many poor opt to
sell portions of their rations to the wealthy, as they cannot afford to pay to consume their
Nearly every aspect of life is heavily regulated by the state. Because of the slow
pace of lifestyle changes in the early years of this scenario, the adoption of sustainable
lifestyles needs to be continually reinforced by government policy in the later years
leading up to 2050. In 2050, Europeans are forced to adopt ―green‖ lifestyle habits– for
example, via bans on non-essential individual long distance travel. By this stage, air
travel has long been too expensive for the majority of people. The state controls or
heavily influences all available channels of education, media and marketing to spread this
message to continually reinforce its adoption and mould perceptions of ―sustainability
Education reform. Europe‘s education system was completely reformed by 2020
to focus on education and knowledge based service careers. By 2030, education
was largely privatised to allow export of education as a service. This resulted in
higher costs of education, further adding to the social tensions of this Scenario.
State media policy. By 2020, most media outlets were tightly controlled by the
government and used to try to manage behaviour change, selling the "cool to play
within the limits" and "green means growth" messages.
Meat Tax. A tax on meat was introduced in 2015 (100% surplus on the market
price) and rose to 200% in 2040. Only the rich were able to afford to eat meat