CO2 Emissions from Energy production forecast to be rising beyond 2040 despite COP21 Paris Agreement

Last week the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) published their INTERNATIONAL ENERGY OUTLOOK 2016. The Daily Caller (and the GWPF) highlighted the EIA’s summary energy energy production. This shows that the despite the predicted strong growth in nuclear power and implausibly high growth in renewables, usage of fossil fuels are also predicted to rise, as shown in their headline graphic below.

For policy purposes, the important aspect is the translation into CO2 emissions. In the final Chapter 9. Energy-related CO2 Emissions figure 9.3 shows the equivalent CO2 Emissions in billions of tonnes of CO2. I have reproduced the graphic as a stacked bar chart.

Data reproduced as a stacked bar chart.

In 2010 these CO2 emissions are just under two-thirds of total global greenhouse gas emissions. The question is how does this fit into the policy requirements to avoid 2°C from the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report? The International Energy Authority summarized the requirements very succicently in World Energy Outlook 2015 Special Report page 18

The long lifetime of greenhouse gases means that it is the cumulative build-up in the atmosphere that matters most. In its latest report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that to preserve a 50% chance of limiting global warming to 2 °C, the world can support a maximum carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions “budget” of 3 000 gigatonnes (Gt) (the mid-point in a range of 2 900 Gt to 3 200 Gt) (IPCC, 2014), of which an estimated 1 970 Gt had already been emitted before 2014. Accounting for CO2 emissions from industrial processes and land use, land-use change and forestry over the rest of the 21st century leaves the energy sector with a carbon budget of 980 Gt (the midpoint in a range of 880 Gt to 1 180 Gt) from the start of 2014 onwards.

From the forecast above, cumulative CO2 emissions from 2014 with reach 980 Gt in 2038. Yet in 2040, there is no sign of peak emissions.

Further corroboration comes from the UNFCCC. In preparation for the COP21 from all the country policy proposals they produced a snappily titled Synthesis report on the aggregate effect of intended nationally determined contributions. The UNFCCC have updated the graphics since. Figure 2 of 27 Apr 2016 shows the total GHG emissions, which were about 17 Gt higher than the CO2 emissions from energy emissions in 2010.

The graphic clearly shows that the INDCs – many with very vague and non-verifiable targets – will make very little difference to the non-policy emissions path. Yet even this small impact is contingent on those submissions being implemented in full, which is unlikely in many countries. The 2°C target requires global emissions to peak in 2016 and then head downwards. There are no additional policies even being tabled to achieve this, except possibly by some noisy, but inconsequential, activist groups. Returning to the EIA’s report, figure 9.4 splits the CO2 emissions between the OECD and non-OECD countries.

The OECD countries represent nearly all countries who propose to reduce their CO2 emissions on the baseline 1990 level, but their emissions are forecast by the EIA still to be 19% higher in 2040. However, the increase is small compared to the non-OECD countries – who mostly are either proposing to constrain emissions growth or have no emissions policy proposals – with emissions forecast to treble in fifty years. As a result the global forecast is for CO2 emissions to double. Even if all the OECD countries completely eliminate CO2 emissions by 2040, global emissions will still be a third higher than in 1990. As the rapid economic growth in the former Third World reduces global income inequalities, it is also reducing the inequalities in fossil fuel consumption in energy production. This will continue beyond 2040 when the OECD with a sixth of the world population will still produce a third of global CO2 emissions.

Unless the major emerging economies peak their emissions in the next few years, then reduce the emissions rapidly thereafter, the emissions target allegedly representing 2°C or less of global warming by 2100 will not be met. But for countries like India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Ethiopia to do so, with the consequent impact on economic growth, is morally indefensible.

Kevin Marshall

 

Climate Interactive’s Bogus INDC Forecast

Summary

Joe Romm wrote a post in early November claiming UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres had misled the public in claiming that the “INDCs have the capability of limiting the forecast temperature rise to around 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100”. Using Climate Interactive’s figures Romm claims the correct figure is 3.5°C. That Romm had one of two sources of the 2.7°C staring at him is a side issue. The major question is how Climate Interactive can achieve a full 1.0°C reduction in expected temperature rise in 2100 and a reduction of 40% in 2100 GHG emissions from pledges covering the period 2015, when the UNFCCC estimates will have a much smaller impact in 2030? Looking at the CO2 emissions, which account for 75-80% of GHG emissions, I have found the majority answer. For OECD countries where emissions per capita have been stable or falling for decades, the “No Action” scenario forecasts that they will rise for decades. For Russia and China, where per capita emissions are likely to peak before 2030 without any policy action, the “No Action” scenario forecasts that they will rise for decades. This is largely offset by Climate Interactive assuming that both emissions and economic growth in India and Africa (where there are no real attempts to control emissions) will stagnate in the coming decades. Just by making more reasonable CO2 emissions forecasts for the OECD, Russia and China can account for half of the claimed 2100 reduction in GHG emissions from the INDC. Climate Interactive’s “No Action” scenario is bogus.

 

Joe Romm’s use of the Climate Interactive projection

A couple of months ago, prior to the COP21 Paris climate talks, Joe Romm at Climate Progress criticized the claim made in a press release by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres:

The INDCs have the capability of limiting the forecast temperature rise to around 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100, by no means enough but a lot lower than the estimated four, five, or more degrees of warming projected by many prior to the INDCs

Romm’s note to the media is

If countries go no further than their current global climate pledges, the earth will warm a total of 3.5°C by 2100.

At a basic level Romm should have done some proper research. As I found out, there are two sources of the claim that are tucked away at the end of a technical appendix to the UNFCCC Synthesis report on the aggregate effect of INDCs. One of these is Climate Action Tracker. On their home page they have a little thermometer which shows the 2.7°C figure. Romm would have seen this, as he refers in the text to CAT’s page on China. The significance may not have registered.

However, the purpose of this post is not to criticize Romm, but the Climate Interactive analysis that Romm uses as the basis of his analysis. Is the Climate Interactive Graph (reproduced in Figure 1) a reasonable estimate of the impact of the INDC submissions (policy pledges) on global emissions?1

Figure 1. Climate Interactive’s graph of impact of the INDC submissions to 2100

What struck me as odd when I first saw this graph was how the INDCs could make such a large impact beyond the 2015-2030 timeframe that they covered when the overall impact was fairly marginal within that timeframe. This initial impression is confirmed by the UNFCCC’s estimate of the INDCs

Figure 2. UNFCCC’s estimate of emissions impact of the INDCs, with the impact shown by the yellow bars. Original here.

There are two things that do not stack up. First is that the “No Action” scenario appears to be a fairly reasonable extrapolation of future emissions without policy. Second, and contrary to that is the first, is that the “Current INDCs” scenario does not make sense in terms of what I have read in the INDCs and is confirmed by the INDCs. To resolve this requires looking at the makeup of the “No Action” scenario. Climate Interactive usefully provide the model for others to do their own estimates,2 With the “User Reference Scenario” giving the “no action” data3, split by type of greenhouse gas and into twenty regions or countries. As about 75-80% of emissions with the model are CO2 Fossil Fuel emissions, I will just look at this area. For simplicity I have also reduced the twenty regions or countries into just seven. That is USA, Other OECD, Russia, China, India, Africa and Rest of the World. There are also lots of ways to look at the data, but some give better understanding of the data than others. Climate Interactive also have population estimates. Population changes over a long period can themselves result in changed emissions, so looking at emissions per capita gives a better sense of the reasonableness of the forecast. I have graphed the areas in figure 3 for the historical period 1970-2010 and the forecast period 2020-2100.

Figure 3 : Fossil Fuel Emissions per capita for six regions from the Climate Interactive “No Action” Scenario.

Understanding the CO2 emissions forecasts

In the USA, emissions per capita peaked at the time of 1973 oil embargo. Since then they have declined slightly. There are a number of reasons for this.

First, higher oil prices gave the economic incentives to be more efficient in usage of oil. In cars there have been massive improvements in fuel efficiency since that time. Industry has also used energy more efficiently. Second, there has been a growth in the use of nuclear power for strategic reasons more than economic. Third is that some of the most energy intensive industries have shifted to other countries, particularly steel and chemicals. Fourth, is that growth in developed countries is mostly in the service sector, whereas growth in developing countries is mostly in manufacturing. Manufacturing tends to have much higher energy usage per unit of output than services. Fifth, is that domestic energy usage is from cars and power for the home. In an emerging economy energy usage will rise rapidly as a larger proportion of the population acquire cars and full heating and lighting systems in the home. Growth is much slower once most households have these luxuries. Sixth is that in the near future emissions might continue to fall with the development of shale gas, with its lower emissions per unit of power than from coal.

I therefore cannot understand why anyone would forecast increasing emissions per capita in the near future, when they have been stable or falling in for decades. Will everyone start to switch to less efficient cars? When these forecasts were made oil was at $100 a barrel levels, and many thought peak oil was upon us. Would private sector companies abandon more efficient energy usage for less efficient and higher cost usage? The USA may abandon nuclear power and shift back to coal for political reasons. But in all forms of energy, production and distribution is likely to continue to become more efficient in all forms.

In the rest of the OECD, there are similar patterns. In Europe energy usage was never as high. In some countries without policy CO2 emissions may rise slightly. In Germany they are replacing nuclear power stations with coal for instance. But market incentives will increase energy efficiency and manufacturing will continue to shift to emerging nations. Again, there appears no reason for a steady increase in emissions per capita to increase in the future.

Russia has a slightly different recent past. Communist central planning was highly inefficient and lead to hugely inefficient energy usage. With the collapse of communism, energy usage fell dramatically. Since then emissions have been increasing, but more slowly than the economy as a whole. Emissions will peak again in a couple of decades. This will likely be at a lower level than in the USA in 1970, despite the harsher climate, as Russia will benefit from technological advances in the intervening period. There is no reason for emissions to go on increasing at such a rapid rate.4

China has recently had phenomenal growth rates. According to UN data, from 1990 to 2012, economic growth averaged 10.3% per annum and CO2 emissions 6.1%. In the not too distant future economic growth will slow as per capita income approaches rich country levels, and emissions growth will slow or peak. But the Climate Interactive forecast has total emissions only peaking in 2090. The reason for China’s and Russia’s forecast per capita emissions exceeding those of the USA is likely due to a failure to allow for population changes. In USA population is forecast to grow, whilst in China and Russia population is forecast to fall.

India has the opposite picture. In recently years economic and CO2 emissions growth has taken off. Current policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi are to accelerate these growth rates. But in the Climate Interactive forecast growth, economic growth and CO2 emissions growth plummet in the near future. Economic growth is already wrong. I am writing on 30/12/15. To meet the growth forecast for 2010-2015, India’s GDP will need to drop by 20% in the next 24 hours.5

For the continent of Africa, there have been encouraging growth signs in the last few years, after decades when many countries saw stagnation or even shrinking economies. Climate Interative forecasts similar growth to India, but with a forecasts of rapid population growth, the emissions per capita will hardly move.

Revised CO2 emissions forecasts

It is extremely difficult and time consuming to make more accurate CO2 emissions forecasts. As a shortcut, I will look at the impact of revisions on 2100, then at the impact on the effect of the INDCs. This is laid out in Figure 4

Figure 4 : Revised Forecast CO2 Emissions from Fossil Fuels

The first three columns in pale lilac are for CO2 emissions per capita calculated, from the Climate Interactive data. In the 2100 Revised column are more realistic estimates for reasons discussed in the text. In the orange part of the table are the total forecast 2100 Climate Interactive figures for population and CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. In darker orange is the revised emissions forecast (emissions per capita multiplied by forecast population) and the impact of the revision. Overall the forecast is 10.2GtCO2e lower, as no calculation has been made for the rest of the world. To balance back requires emissions of 11.89 tonnes per capita for 2.9 billion people. As ROW includes such countries as Indonesia, Bangladesh, Iran, Vietnam, Brazil and Argentina this figure might be unreasonable 85 years from now.

The revised impact on the INDC submissions

The INDC submissions can be broken down.

The USA, EU, Japan and Australia all have varying levels of cuts to total emissions. So for the OECD as a whole I estimate Climate Interactive over estimates the impact of the INDCs by 8.4GtCO2e

The Russian INDC pledge it is unclear, but it seems to be saying that emissions will peak before 2030 at below 1990 levels6. As my revised forecast is above this level, I estimate Climate Interactive over estimates the impact of the INDCs by 3.2GtCO2e

The Chinese INDC claims pledges that its emissions will have peaked by 2030. This will have happened anyway and at around 10-12 tonnes per capita. I have therefore assumed that emissions will stay constant from 2030 to 2100 whilst the population is falling. Therefore I estimate that Climate Interactive over estimates the impact of the INDCs by 19.5GtCO2e

Overall for these areas the overestimation is around 31 GtCO2e. Instead of 63.5GtCO2e forecast for these countries for 2100 it should be nearer 32.5GtCO2e. This is about half the total 2100 reduction that Climate Interactive claims that the INDC submission will make from all types of greenhouse gases. A more rigorous forecast may have lower per capita emissions in the OECD and China. There may be other countries where similar forecast issues of CO2 emissions might apply. In addition, in note 7 I briefly look at the “No Action” CH4 emissions, the second largest greenhouse gas. There appear to be similar forecast issued there.

In summary, the make-up of the CO2 emissions “No Action” forecast is bogus. It deviates from an objective and professional forecast in a way that grossly exaggerates the impact of any actions to control GHG emissions, or even pledges that constitute nothing more than saying what would happen anyway.

Notes

  1. The conversion of a given quantity of emissions into average surface temperature changes is outside the scope of this article. Also we will assume that all policy pledges will be fully implemented.
  2. On the Home page use the menu for Tools/C-ROADS. Then on the right hand side select “Download C-ROADS”. Install the software. Run the software. Click on “Create New Run” in the centre of the screen.


    This will generate a spreadsheet “User Scenario v3 026.xls”. The figures I use are in the User Reference Scenario tab. The software version I am working from is v4.026v.071.

  3. The “User Reference Scenario” is claimed to be RCP 8.5. I may post at another time on my reconciliation between the original and the Climate Interactive versions.
  4. The forecast estimates for economic growth and emissions for Russia look quite bizarre when the 5 year percentage changes are graphed.


    I cannot see any reason for growth rates to fall to 1% p.a in the long term. But this is the situation with most others areas as well. Nor can I think of a reason for emissions growth rates to increase from 2030 to 2055, or after 2075 expect as a contrivance for consistency purposes.

  5. The forecast estimates for economic growth and emissions for India look even more bizarre than for Russia when the 5 year percentage changes are graphed.


    I am writing on 30/12/15. To meet the growth forecast for 2010-2015, India’s GDP will need to drop by 20% in the next 24 hours. From 2015 to 2030, the period of the INDC submissions, CO2 emissions are forecast to grow by 8.4%. India’s INDC submission implies GHG emissions growth from 2014 to 2030 of 90% to 100%. Beyond that India is forecast to stagnate to EU growth rates, despite being a lower to middle income country. Also, quite contrary to Russia, emissions growth rates are always lower than economic growth rates.

  6. The Russian Federation INDC states

    Limiting anthropogenic greenhouse gases in Russia to 70-75% of 1990 levels by the year 2030 might be a long-term indicator, subject to the maximum possible account of absorbing capacity of forests.

    This appears as ambiguous, but could be taken as meaning a long term maximum.

  7. CH4 (Methane) emissions per Capita

    I have quickly done a similar analysis of methane emissions per capita as in Figure 2 for CO2 emissions. The scale this time is in kilos, not tonnes.

    There are similarities

  • OECD emissions had been falling but are forecast to rise. The rise is not as great as for CO2.
  • In Russia and China emissions are forecast to rise. In Russia this is by a greater amount than for CO2, in China by a lesser amount.
  • In Africa, per capita emissions are forecast to fall slightly. Between 2010, CH4 emissions are forecast to rise 3.1 times and population by 4.3 times.
  • In both the USA and Other OECD (a composite of CI’s categories) total CH4 emissions are forecast in 2100 to be 2.778 times higher than in 2010. In both China and India total CH4 emissions are forecast in 2100 to be 2.420 times higher than in 2010.


 

WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE and Indonesian Emission Figures

In looking at the Indonesian INDC submission, I came across a confusing array of estimates for Indonesia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. These are the ones I found.

Estimates of Indonesia’s Total Greenhouse Emissions in MtCO2e
Dataset

1990

2000

2005

2010

UNFCCC 1,101 1,444 2,829 1,908
EDGAR 1,165 622 1,171 745
WRI CAIT 2.0 1,026 1,372 1,584 1,928
WRI Blog   1,000 1,400 1,500
Indonesian Govt     1,800  

In graph format the figures are:-

The Indonesian INDC Submission says it will give unconditionally cut emissions by 29% from the BAU of 2881 MtCO2e, it means that in 2030 emissions will be about 100 MtCO2e lower than in 2005 not 1120 MtCO2e lower (UNFCCC) or 530 MtCO2e higher (EDGAR) . But on the basis of the UNFCCC or EGDAR figures by 2010 Indonesia had fallen by a third, so meeting the 2030 unconditional target should prove a doddle. Alternatively, use the World Resources Institute CAIT 2.0 data and Indonesia has unconditionally agreed something much more drastic. Between 2005 and 2010 emissions grow at 4% a year. On that trend, the 2030 BAU becomes 4200 MtCO2e, not 2881 MtCO2e, so the unconditional emissions “cut” is not 29% but 51%.

The worst example is contained in a graph about the Indonesian INDC Submission at the World Resources Institute Blog and reproduced below.

There are a number of things wrong with this graph, including

  • Scale is in KtCO2e, not MtCO2e.
  • Does not use WRI’s own CAIT 2.0. This is despite WRI claiming itprovides free access to comprehensive, reliable, and comparable greenhouse gas emissions data sets, as well as other climate-relevant indicators, to enable analysis on a wide range of climate-related data questions.
  • Nor does is there any trace of Indonesia’s claimed emissions 1800 Mt CO2e in 2005. So where does this wibbly-wobbly projection come from? The reference includes BAPPENAS 2015 – the Indonesian “National Development Planning Agency”. A search finds this graph.

The figure for 2005 is about 1400 MtCO2e, not the 1800 MtCO2e stated in the INDC. The Indonesian’s have fiddled their own unaudited figures to get a politically desired result – an easily achievable “reduction” in GHG emissions. Even worse, the WRI does check the data. There are minor points that the Indonesian “dalam ribu ton” translates on Google as “in thousand tons“, or that anyone who knows climate data would realize that 1,000,000 MtCO2e is greater than 49GtCO2e, the UNIPCCs AR5 global estimate of GHG emissions in 2010.

Finally, the Carbon Brief, in a recent article says that 1997 was a record for forest fires – a record that may be broken in 2015. Already 1600 MtCO2e has been emitted from forest fires. On this basis, therefore, 1997 total Indonesian emissions are likely to be well in excess of 2000 MtCO2e, and a considerable spike in the record.

The WRI CAIT 2.0 data, shows a minor spike. The narrower “GHG Emissions from Land-Use Change and Forestry” was estimated at 904 MtCO2e, as against 1321 MtCO2e in 2006. This is nowhere near the implied Carbon Brief 1997 emissions record. The figures

In summary, emissions figures for Indonesia are just arbitrary estimates, based on extremely limited and contradictory data. Both the WRI and the Indonesian Government cherry-pick data to suit their cause. Whether it is justified depends on the purpose. The WRI states their missions clearly.

That is to impose their environmentalist beliefs and perspectives on everybody else.

Indonesia’s INDC submission begins

This is, in my view, a far more rounded and focused mission. Against the environmentalist ideologies of the UNFCCC I believed that in manipulating figures Indonesia is serving the interests of 250 million Indonesians.

Kevin Marshall

Plans to Increase Global Emissions at COP21 Paris

Summary

It is a necessary, but far from sufficient, condition to cut global greenhouse gas emissions for any increases in emissions in some parts of the world to be offset by emissions cuts elsewhere. INDC submissions for the COP21 in Paris contain proposed emissions targets between 2010 and 2030 suggest the opposite will be case. For every tonne of emissions reductions in 32 leading developed countries there will be at least three tonnes of emissions increases in 7 major developing countries. The net effect of these targets being achieved from these countries (which combined make up both 60% of global emissions and 60% of global population) will be to make global emissions 20% higher in 2030 than 2010. Using UNIPCC AR5 projections, unless there are large and rapid cuts in in global greenhouse emissions post 2030, any agreement based those submissions will not save the world from two degrees of dangerous global warming and will likely not save the world from three degrees of warming. This leads to a policy problem. Emissions reduction policies will only reduce a small part of the harms of climate change. So even if the more extreme claims of climate catastrophism are true, then it might be more beneficial for a nation to avoid emissions reduction policies.

Assumptions

In the following analysis makes these assumptions.

  • UNIPCC estimates of the relationship between global average temperature and atmospheric greenhouse gas levels are accurate.
  • UNIPCC estimates of the relationship between greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric greenhouse gas levels are accurate.
  • Policy commitments will always turn into concrete policy.
  • Climate change policy priorities will not conflict with other priorities.
  • All policy will be effectively implemented in full, implying the requisite technological and project management capacities are available.

The Context

The World’s leaders meeting from 30 November to December 11 in Paris together to thrash out a plan to save the world from a dangerous two degrees of warming. In preparation 146 countries, representing 87% of Global Emissions have submitted plans to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). These are available at the submissions website here. There is no-one who has gone through to evaluate whether these submissions are consistent with this objective. I have chosen a small sample of 7 major developing nations and 32 developing nations (EU 28 have a single target) which combined represent about 60% of global emissions and 60% of global population.

The level of global emissions control required to constrain global warming is given by the IPCC in their final version of the 2014 AR5 Synthesis Report page 21 Figure SPM 11(a) and reproduced below.

The dark blue band is the maximum emissions pathway to avoid going beyond 2 degrees of warming, with RCP2.6 denoting the central pathway. The dark orange pathway would produce 2.5-3.0 degrees of warming. According to the figure SPM 5(a) Annual GHG emissions in 2010 were 49 GtCO2. They are currently increasing by at least 2% a year. The extrapolated projection for 2030 is 70-75 GtCO2, roughly following the solid black line of the RCP8.5 BAU (non-policy) scenario. In 2015 this will be about 54 GtCO2. The minimum for policy is that global emissions should be at least no higher than they were in 2010, and preferably below that level to offset the cumulative overshoot that will occur.

How does the global policy requirement fit in with the country submissions?

If the IPCC projections are correct, to avoid 2 degrees of warming being exceeded there needs to be a global cap on greenhouse gas emissions of around 50 GtCO2 almost immediately and for that level to start to start falling in the early 2020s. Alternatively, if global emissions reach 60 GtCO2 without any prospect of major reductions thereafter then from the model projections three degrees of warming is likely to be exceeded. There is a large gap between these two scenarios, but even with submissions from a limited number of the major countries it is possible to state that the lower limit will be exceeded. This can be done by calculating emissions increases in the major high growth developing countries and the proposed emissions reductions in the major developed countries. This is not straight forward, as in most country submissions there are no clear figures, so various assumptions need to be made. For developing countries this is particularly difficult, as the estimated business as usual (BAU) emissions are usually not stated and are dependent upon assumptions of economic growth, though sometimes there are clues within the text. For the developed countries the projections are easier to calculate, as they are relative to a date in the past. There is a further issue of which measure of emissions to use. I have used the UNFCCC issued estimates of GHG emissions in its Country Briefs for 1990, 2000, 2005 & 2010.1 In many of the submissions there often both conditional and unconditional estimates of 2030 emissions. For developing countries the lower estimates are dependent on external funding. For the other countries, emissions reductions are expressed as a range. In every case I have used the lower emissions figure.2

For the developing countries, those with major projected emissions increases countries are as follows.3

Estimated targeted emissions increases from 2010 to 2030 for major developing countries based on INDC Submissions
Country

Emissons Change

INDC Submission

Country Brief

Mexico

30%

Mexico

Mexico

China

55%

China

China

Indonesia

90%

Indonesia

Indonesia

Turkey

115%

Turkey

Turkey

India

138%

India

India

Bangladesh

250%

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Vietnam

260%

Vietnam

Vietnam

The targeted total increase GHG for these seven countries between 2010 and 2030 is estimated to be in excess of 13 Gt.

According to World Bank Data there were 3300 million people in these seven countries in 2013, or 46% of the global population.

For the developed countries those with the largest quantitative emissions reductions are as follows.4

Estimated targeted emissions change from 2010 to 2030 for major developed countries from INDC Submissions
Country

Emissons Change

INDC Submission

Country Brief

Australia

-30%

Australia

Australia

Canada

-29%

Canada

Canada

EU

-40%

EU

EU

Japan

-20%

Japan

Japan

USA

-28%

USA

USA

The targeted total decrease GHG for these thirty-two countries between 2010 and 2030 is estimated to be 4 Gt.

According to World Bank Data there were 900 million people in these thirty-two countries in 2013, or 13% of the global population.

For every one tonne of emissions reduction by developed countries, it will be replaced by at least three tonnes of emissions elsewhere. Bigger reductions by these developed countries will not close the gap, as their total 2010 emissions are just 12.9 G. The developing countries do not include a single African country, nor Pakistan, Iran, Venezuela, or numerous other countries. Yet it does include all the major developed countries.

Whilst the developing countries way not achieve this increase in emissions by 2030, collectively they will achieve this increase shortly after that date. Many of the developed countries may not achieve the emissions reductions due to changing priorities. For instance the EU targets reduction may not be achieved due to Germany abandoning nuclear power in favour of coal and Southern European states reducing renewables subsidies as a response to recent economic crises.

The Elephant in the Room

In 2030, even with an agreement based on the INDC submissions signed this December in Paris, and then fully implemented without compromise there is still a problem. If the IPCC models are correct, the only way to stop the 3 degrees of warming being exceeded is through rapid reductions in emissions in those countries where emissions have recently peaked (e.g. South Korea and China) along with steep reductions in emissions of countries where they are still increasing rapidly (e.g. India and Bangladesh). Unless a technological miracle happens in the next decade this is not going to happen. More likely is that global emissions may keep on rising as many slower-growing African and Asian nations have ever larger unit increases in emissions each year.

The Policy Problem

The justification for mitigation policy is most clearly laid out in the British 2006 Stern Review Summary of Conclusions page vi

Using the results from formal economic models, the Review estimates that if we don’t act, the overall costs and risks of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global GDP each year, now and forever. If a wider range of risks and impacts is taken into account, the estimates of damage could rise to 20% of GDP or more.

That is the unknown and random costs of climate change can be exchanged for the lesser and predictable costs of policy. A necessary, but far from sufficient, condition of this happening is that policy will eradicate all the prospective costs of climate change. It could be that if warming is constrained to less than 2 degrees the costs of climate change would be trivial, so the reality could be a close approximation of Stern’s viewpoint. But if warming exceeds 3 degrees and the alleged harms are correct, then emissions reducing policies are likely to lead to net harms for the countries implementing those policies and a small net benefit for those countries without policy.

Kevin Marshall

Notes

  1. The exception is for Bangladesh. They are one of the few countries that clearly lays out 2030 estimates in MtCO2, but the 2010 estimate is about 20% lower than the UNFCCC figure. I have just lifted the Bangladeshi figures.
  2. For instance the USA the target is to reduce is emissions 26-28% on the 2005 level. I have used the 28% figure. The United States is about the only country not providing target figures for 2030. I would be imprudent to assume any greater reductions given that it is not certain even this level will be ratified by Congress.
  3. Not all the countries outside of the rich are targeting emissions increases. Brazil and Argentina are targeting emissions reductions, whilst Thailand and South Korea would appear to be targeting to maintaining emissions at around 2010 levels.
  4. Not all developed countries have emissions reduction targets.
  5. South Korea with 1.3% of 2010 global emissions could be included in developed countries, but its target it is to roughly maintain emissions at 2010 levels. Switzerland, Norway and Singapore are all committed to emissions reductions, but combined they have less 0.3 GT of emissions.