Catherine Cameron (British and Guyanese, born 1963) was a member of the core team behind The Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change. She is now director of Agulhas: Applied Knowledge, helping companies and organizations respond to the additional challenges to sustainability posed by climate change. She is a visiting fellow at the Smith School of Environment & Enterprise at the University of Oxford.
She is also a Visiting Fellow at the Global Resource Observatory at Anglia Ruskin University, modelling the near term risks of resource constraints. She sits on a number of Boards and Advisory Boards including the Sustainable Aviation consortium, working to reduce carbon emissions from the UK aviation sector to 2005 levels by 2050 with an anticipated tripling in demand.
I believe that in forty years the balance of power will move further north in Europe. The countries in the ascendant will be Scandinavia, Germany, Benelux, and the Baltic states. Scotland will complete its separation from the UK to join this group, called “the New Europe” and established after the “resetting” of the EU in the late 2020s. The southern states of Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, and the Balkans will suffer temperature increases and water shortages leading to food shortages, ill health, and unrest. Population movements will follow, including migrants from North Africa. Below I describe the future of the UK, and Scotland in particular, with a backdrop of key events elsewhere in Europe.
In the UK, mean temperature is almost 1.1°C above the preindustrial mean. The high temperatures adversely affect rail transportation in the southeast of England. It is exceptionally wet in Scotland, with over 250% of the average recorded rainfall. Drought conditions continue to affect southeastern England, with less than 30% of normal rainfall recorded.
The UK produces 60% of its own food—and more than 74% of all food that can be produced domestically. Two-thirds of food imports into the UK are from other EU member states. On the energy front, prices increase in the winter: gas by 18% and electricity by 16%.
The increase is partly attributed to the unrest in the Middle East, the earthquake in Japan, and the rapidly growing Asian economies driving up demand. The UK population is 62.2 million, of which Scotland is 5.2 million.
On the political front, Scotland has had a devolved parliament and executive since 1999. In 2010 it pulled back from having a full referendum to devolve entirely from the UK. A further referendum is due to be held before 2016. In the EU, Greece exits the euro. Italy receives a bail-out package amid furious Eurozone debate.
South and central England suffer maximum summer temperatures at the extreme range of projections. Drought conditions are a problem in the southeast, with water rationing commonplace. Scotland continues to get higher rainfall, prompting investment in more hydropower.
Food imports from the EU become more expensive as countries prioritize domestic needs. England produces less cereal, vegetables, and fruit in the south, east, and west, while crop production in northern England and Scotland increases.
The UK is importing the majority of its gas and more than half its oil. Scotland has scaled up wind power and is investing in more hydro and tidal power. Norway and Scotland sign the Tromso Agreement in 2022: Scotland provides wind power to Norway in exchange for oil and gas as part of a wider plan to collaborate on shared wind-power resources as deeper-water wind power becomes technically possible for both countries. Scotland votes to be a nuclear-free state after the Sizewell B accident in England, where a combination of tidal surge, coastal erosion, and poor maintenance led to the collapse of the reactor, land unfit for food production, and an exodus of the population.
Scotland’s population reaches 5.5 million, partly because of inmigration. Many migrants are from England, with a marked increase of people over age sixty (for the health service and subsidized elderly care) and people moving away from the congestion, heat, and water scarcity.
The euro collapses in this decade following the exit of Portugal, Italy, Spain, and Ireland. A two-tier setting is agreed for Europe in the Stockholm Agreement in 2023. New Europe (the northern states)and Europe II (the southern states) agree to a preferential trading agreement, but border requirements are amended, reflecting the breakdown of the Schengen area. Italy reverts to two states, an industrial north and an agricultural south, the latter with the same territory as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in 1860. The new border is heavily guarded in an attempt to deter migrants. Fascist policies are on the rise in Europe II in response to food-price rises, water shortages, and increased number of migrants from the Maghreb states.
Temperature extremes continue, resulting in widespread disruption to working patterns, health, and transportation in southern England. Flooding has become a problem in western and central England, with insurance coverage difficult to obtain.
Food production in eastern, western, and central England has plummeted owing to the Sizewell accident, temperature increases, water shortages, and flooding. Imports from the EU are now scarce and expensive. Scotland is self-sufficient in basic foods.
Scotland’s wind-power provision accelerates into deep water with Norway, using shared technology, staff, and installation platforms.
Denmark, Greenland, and Iceland join this partnership later in the decade to form a clean-energy coalition, sharing research and development of tidal and hydropower, skills, resources, and resulting energy in the Keflavik Agreement signed in 2035.
In part from English moving north and in part from a relatively liberal immigration policy, Scotland’s population reaches 6 million.
As in the Scandinavian countries and Canada, immigration policy is heavily linked to the skills of the migrants.
The two-tier setting for Europe is more stable in this decade. Scotland devolves fully from the UK with little public debate. The focus in England is on energy, food, and water access. Scotland’s distinctive energy policy and water abundance change the nature of the relationship between the two nations.
The temperature extremes of 2003, when thousands of Europeans died in the heat, now occur every second year or so. Water scarcity in southeast England continues, with rationing for four to six months of the year. Coastal erosion on the east coast accelerates, with the government policy of managed retreat overtaken by the collapse of some cliffs. Flooding in western and central England is worse than predicted.
Production of champagne and some soft fruits like apricots increases in southern England, while production of traditional cereal crops and vegetables continues to move north. Households are more and more self-sufficient, with their own power from solar panels, water collection from rainwater, and cottage gardening with some poultry and goats. There has been a significant decline in consumption of beef and lamb.
Scotland is wholly self-sufficient in electricity from wind power. This powers the transportation system and a large portion of domestic housing stock. The Keflavik Agreement is working well, with Finland and Sweden as new members and Canada as an associate member.
Population has grown to 7.5 million in Scotland, up 50% in thirty years. Northumbria and the Lake District are the boom areas of England. Scotland puts in place restrictions on immigration.
Political turbulence continues across Europe II. Renewable power and water have become key trading commodities, as gold and oil were fifty years before.
Temperature spikes in the summer ahead of the climate-model predictions. In Scotland water continues to be plentiful. Food production is a national priority for England. Cereals are now an important trading commodity. And Scotland has a 100% renewable energy supply consisting of wind, wave, and hydropower.
The population in Scotland has stabilized at a little over 8 million, with eligibility restrictions and border controls making it difficult for new migrants from outside New Europe to enter.
New Europe and Europe II no longer share any of the old EU structures or status. New Europe is now closely allied with the New North in the Thule Agreement signed in 2052. There is some talk of an ever-closer union between these two groups given the high degree of common membership.