Britain’s Folly in Attempting to Save the World from Global Warming

Last week in the House of Lords1 Viscount Ridley asked Baroness Verma, a minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, about the hiatus in global warming. Lord Ridley asked Lady Verma

Would you give us the opinion of your scientific advisers as to when this hiatus is likely to end.

Lady Verma replied

It may have slowed down, but that is a good thing. It could well be that some of the measures we are taking today is helping that to occur.

I already commented at Bishop Hill – repeated by James Delingpole

From 1990 to 2013 global emissions increased by 61%. Of that increase, 67% was from China & India. This is not surprising as they were both growing fast from a low base, and combined contain nearly 40% of global population. The UK, with less than 1% of global population managed to decrease its emissions by 19%. In doing so, they managed to offset nearly 1.2% of the combined increase in China & India.

However this is not the full story, particularly with respect to understanding future emissions growth. Here I extend the analysis of the CDIAC data set2 to give a more comprehensive picture. CDIAC (Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre) have estimates of CO2 emissions in tonnes of carbon equivalent for all countries from 1960 to 2013. These I have split out the countries of India, China and UK. The rest I have lumped into three groups – The major developed ACEJU countries3, the Ex-Warsaw Pact countries4 and ROW5 (Rest of the World). For emissions I have taken the baseline year of 1990, the latest year of 2013 and then forecast emissions for 20206.

The major developed economies have virtually unchanged, although, along with the UK the proportion of global emissions has fallen from 45% to 28% between 1990 and 2013 and are forecasted to fall further to 23% of global emissions even without aggressive emission reduction policies.

The collapse of communism meant the collective emissions of the Ex-Warsaw Pact countries fell by 44% between 1988 and 1999. That in 2020 emissions levels will still be around 20% lower, even though the economies will be far richer, is due to the inefficiencies of the Communist system.

China and India had most of the emissions growth between 1990 and 2013, there emissions growing by 300% and 250% respectively. That growth was equivalent to 16 times the UK emissions in 1990. By 2020 China and India’s emissions growth over 30 years is likely to have cancelled out the UK’s 30% reduction 78 times over. That forecast emissions increase from 1990 to 2020 is also a third larger than the combined 1990 emissions of the major rich countries.

Finally there is the ROW countries, nearly half the World’s population now live and where emissions increased by 130% between 1990 and 2013.

To put these figures in context, we need to look at population figures, which are available from the World Bank7.

The big CO2 emitters in 1990 were the First and Second World countries. Over two-thirds of global emissions were produced by a quarter of the population. Those same countries now produce 40% of global emissions and have 20% of the global population. The population has grown, but only by 10%. In some of the countries it is already falling. China’s population grew by 20%, India’s by 44% and the Rest of the World by 55%, giving a global population growth of 35%. Looking at CO2 emissions in tonnes per capita puts the CO2 emissions problem into perspective.

China started from an extremely low base in terms of emissions per capita. It is unlikely to exceed the rich world’s 1990 emissions per capita in the next 10 years. However, due to slower population growth and its current stage of development, it is unlikely to be the major source of emissions growth through to 2050. It is likely to be overtaken by India, who in turn will be overtaken by the rest of the world before the end of the century. Unless very cheap non-CO2 emitting sources of energy are developed, global emissions will continue to grow. That emissions growth will be the result of genuine economic growth that will see grinding poverty disappear from every country that embraces the modern world.

The UK with less than 1% of the world’s population will continue to have no impact at all despite all the hype of having the World’s “greenest” energy policies. Even if the scariest scenarios of Lord Stern’s nightmares are true, there is absolutely no reason to continue with policies that are pushing ever greater numbers into fuel poverty and jeopardizing security of energy supply. The future impacts will be just the same, but with current policy, Britons will meet that future poorer than without. The British Government is like a doctor that prescribes useless medicine in the knowledge that it has nasty side effects. Most would agree that a GP who did that to a patient should be struck off, even if it were one patient in hundreds.

For the people who still genuinely believe that increasing CO2 emissions will cause catastrophic climate change there are two causes of action. First is to find a plentiful source of non-polluting energy where the full costs are less than coal, but just as reliable. There is genuine pollution from coal in the form of smog, so everyone should be in support of this. Shale gas, then thorium nuclear reactors might be a ways forward in the next few decades. Second is to far more accurately predict the catastrophic consequences of global warming, so adaptation can be made at minimal cost and waste of resources. Every prediction of short term catastrophe (e.g. worsening hurricanes) or a worsening situation (e.g. accelerating sea level rise) has proved to be false, hence the reliance on noisy publicists and political activists that discourage learning from past mistakes.

 

Please note that first time comments are moderated. I welcome debate. Please use the comments as a point of contact, with a request not to publish.

Kevin Marshall

Notes

  1. As reported by James Delingpole at Brietbart. Also reported at The Daily Mail, Bishop Hill, and Not a Lot of People Know That here and here.
  2. CDIAC is the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre. The 2014 Budget 1.0 contains estimates of CO2 emissions in tonnes of carbon equivalent for all countries from 1960 to 2013. I have converted the figures to tonnes of CO2.
  3. Australia, Canada, EU (the Western European 15, less UK), Japan and USA. This is most of what used to be called “First World”.
  4. This includes the former USSR countries, plus Eastern Europe. I have added in North Korea, Yugoslavia and Cuba.
  5. By definition this includes Central and South America, Africa, Middle East and South East Asia.
  6. Britain has committed to reduce its emissions by 30% of 1990 levels by 2020. China has pledged to “Reduce CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 40–45% by 2020 compared to the 2005 level”. I assume 8% GDP growth and achieving a full 45% reduction, which is achievable. Similarly India has pledged to Reduce CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 20–25% by 2020 compared to the 2005 level. Although it is unlikely to be achieved, based on emissions growth from 2005-2013, I have a assumed 7% GDP growth and achieving a minimum 20% reduction. For the other countries I have assumed half the emissions change from 1999-2013. This is likely to be an underestimate, as many other economies are growing emissions are a fast annual rate. For them this assumes a much reduced growth rate. Also many developed economies, particularly in Southern European showed sharp drops in emissions along with GDP in the credit crunch. They are now emerging, so should be expected to have higher emission growth rates.
  7. The 2020 population figures are assuming that each country’s population will change in the next seven years by the same number that it did in the previous seven. As world population growth in slowing, this might be a reasonable estimate. The result is a population increase of 550 million to 7,675 million.
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2 Comments

  1. Spending Money on Foreign Aid instead of Renewables | ManicBeancounter
  2. Have 250.000 Spanish jobs been sacrificed for the folly of saving the planet? | ManicBeancounter

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