Guest Post: Peter O’Brien – Passing the hat around for Gaia

The UN is calling for national leaders to sign up to a global agreement on reduction in human CO2 emissions that will “limit global warming to 2C degrees above the pre-industrial level”.  This agreement is to be signed in Paris in December 2015.   Australia has agreed to participate.

The process for reaching this agreement was thrashed out at the 2014 Lima conference.  Individual nations ‘that are ready to do so’ will submit national pledges by the first quarter 2015.  Australia has now said it will submit its’ pledge by mid 2015.

But it is not clear whether or not the Australian government subscribes to the 2C target.  The recently released issues paper ‘Setting Australia’s post-2020 target for greenhouse gas emissions’ does not refer to this aim.

I have unsuccessfully sought clarification on this from Minister Hunt and from my local member, who is a member of the Government.

The 2C limit is a very specific target.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of ‘wiggle room’.  Which is as it should be if one accepts the prognostications of catastrophe upon which the need for this agreement is based.  (Which, for the record, I don’t – but let’s play the game anyway.)

The obvious question at this point is – exactly how much atmospheric CO2 will result in such a warming?  The IPCC tells us the warming effect of a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration is anywhere between 1.5C degrees and 4.5C degrees. (So much for ‘settled science’!)

So how are individual governments to know what emission cuts would be necessary and sufficient to meet the aim?

In other words, what official guidance has been issued to countries?

If such guidance exists it is not widely published, as the 2C degree limit is.

In the case of Australia, one would have thought that such guidance would be issued by the Department of the Environment but I can find no reference to any guidance on their website.

So I checked the Climate Change Authority (CCA), and it has issued some guidance.

The Authority has issued a report, based on a paper by Meinshausen et al (2009) which assigns various probabilities of limiting warming to 2C against various emission scenarios. The report can be read at http://www.climatechangeauthority.gov.au/reviews/targets-and-progress-review-3.

These scenarios are based on total cumulative global CO2e emissions (called global budgets) from 2000 to 2050.  There are four of them equating to various probabilities of limiting warming to 2C.

 

Probability of remaining within 2C

80%

75%

67%

50%

GT CO2

900

1010

1170

1450

GT CO2e

1370

1520

1700

2020

The budget that the CCA has chosen to base its’ recommendations upon is 1700 GT of CO2 equivalent between 2000 and 2050.  (As a point of reference, the global CO2 equivalent emission for 2014 is roughly 50GT.)  And it is worth noting that the Authority recognises that roughly 40% of this 1700GT budget has already been used between 2000 and 2014.

Thus we have a residual global budget of only 1020GT CO2e to 2050.

According to Meinshausen et al, limiting emissions to this budget, would deliver a probability of 67% of not exceeding 2C degrees.   (I do not have the technical knowledge to comment on the scientific merit or practical value of this paper but it is surely worth scrutiny by someone who does.)

The CCA report recommends that Australia’s ‘fair share’ of this residual budget (2013 to 2050) is 10.1GT.  This works out at 0.27GT per annum.

Australia currently emits approx. 0.6GT CO2e per annum.

The CCA report says that the pathway to achieving the desired cuts is flexible but the principle is that the overall budget should not be breached.  The CCA has issued some interim targets but, for simplicity’s sake, let’s just look at the overall picture.

Under business as usual we would emit 22GT by 2050, so we are looking at an overall cut of  greater than 50%.

What is the likelihood that the Australian government will sign up to something like this in December?

But it’s even more problematical when one looks at the global picture.

Let’s assume the rest of the world adopted the same target (1020GT CO2e from 2015 to 2050).

Currently, China emits roughly 15GT CO2e pa and its’ emissions are forecast to grow until 2030, when, supposedly, they will peak.

The developed world currently emits 24GT CO2e pa.

The developing world (not including China) emits roughly 15GT CO2e pa and its’ emissions are also forecast to grow.

(Source: http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/news_docs/pbl-2013-trends-in-global-co2-emissions-2013-report-1148.pdf.  Note:  I have converted CO2 to CO2 equivalent using a factor of 1.5, which is what is used in the CCA report.)

Last year China’s emissions grew at 3%.  If that growth continued until 2030 (and why wouldn’t it, China having been given carte blanche by President Obama to do just that?), and then peaked, China will have emitted a total of approx 760GT CO2e by 2050.

If the developing world also grew at 3% until only 2030 it would have emitted the same – 760GT.

So already we have consumed 1520GT of our global budget of only 1020GT CO2e.

Even if the developed world achieved a 50% cut in emissions, it would still have emitted roughly 430GT by 2050

Against a budget of 1020GT, actual emissions would total 1950GT.  (And I think my assumptions are conservative as to the growth in emissions from China and the developing world and ambitious as to the cuts in emissions achievable by the developed world.)

So even if Australia achieved its’ 10GT budget, in the best case, the world will have overshot the mark by 90%, equating to a probability (according to Meinshausen) of limiting warming to 2C of only 50%.

The Climate Change Authority has been in existence for two and a half years with an annual budget of $6 million.  So this report has cost us about $20 million.

But we can be pretty sure the government will not use this guidance.  It has said it will base its’ cuts on what the rest of the world does.  And yet it also says it respects the science of climate change.  There’s not a lot of science in this process.

Already, it seems, some of the lead UN figures in the process are hedging their bets and suggesting that the 2C target is not the be all and end all.

As it is, the process instigated by the Lima conference resembles nothing so much as an office farewell party:

 We’re passing the hat around for Charlie.  As you know he’s leaving the company after 30 years’ service.  We’d like to get him a gold Rolex but chip in whatever you can and we’ll get what we can afford.

It’s time to end this costly farce but I’m not holding my breath.

This entry was posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Guest Post. Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Guest Post: Peter O’Brien – Passing the hat around for Gaia

  1. Empire

    Thanks for demonstrating the impossibility of the propaganda Peter.

    CAGW. Utter crap from soup to nuts.

  2. Natural Instinct

    Australia currently emits approx. 0.6GT CO2e per annum.

    Is that figure “gross” or “nett”?
    I am sure that one can calculate energy use, fuel types, and the number of cows etc and thus calculate CO2 and CH4 emitted – but how does one calculate how much is reabsorbed back into the Australian land mass?
    .
    What I am angling at here is that I am tired of being told that Australia has the highest per capita emissions (energy use) and thus we should all go back to the stone age as it is our moral duty – regardless of how much of China’s emissions our large continent absorbs.
    But then again I guess a large conifer or fir forest in Russia absorbs a lot more than us.

  3. Bill Griffiths

    Not much chance of an end to it all while we still have the madness of a Renewable Energy Target here in Oz. Communism has consistently had two features: contempt for the people. Only the elite can know what’s good for us; and crony capitalism. Both are on show here as the poor struggle to manage their power bills and we subsidise the rich to build more and more wind farms. Interesting to see that the German medical profession has called for a moratorium on new wind farms until there is some solid research into their effects on people’s health.

  4. lem

    “..limit global warming to 2degrees”

    But since the temperature hasn’t gone up surely it should be business as usual?

    Or am I missing something here?

  5. mundi

    Yes you are, temperature doesn’t matter, only the CO2 target does.

    Otherwise they would be calling for output to vary with temperature.

  6. Sydney Boy

    Hang on … Australia emits 0.6GT CO2e per annum and falling, China emits 15GT CO2e per annum and climbing until they supposedly reach peak output in 2030? And the swampies accused Australia of not doing enough to combat climate change?

    [facepalm]

  7. 2dogs

    In the table, what is the associated atmospheric CO2 ppm for the GT CO2 emissions figures?

  8. Peter OBrien

    2Dogs asks:

    In the table, what is the associated atmospheric CO2 ppm for the GT CO2 emissions figures?

    The answer: they don’t know because atmospheric CO2 concentration has been increasing linearly at 2ppm per year while emissions have been increasing exponentially. No-one knows how the natural carbon sinks operate.

  9. Splatacrobat

    There was some numptie on abc the other day pushing the line the warmth is hiding in the ocean………..Indian Ocean to be specific.

    She said currents,winds, deeper this and that were causing heat to be stored in the Indian Ocean.

    If they were more scientifically astute they would just its the vibe.

  10. Deep Green

    This is the usual guff that Global Warming Denialists drag out, time after time.
    It’s another potential Shoa, and you know it will harm more than Six Million.
    It will harm the whole planet.

  11. Gerard van Rijswijk

    2 degrees above the supposed world temperature before the industrial revolution.

    How much of that will relate to the earth recovering from the little ice age????

  12. Eyrie

    Let’s call it the “Canute Agreement”.

  13. incoherent rambler

    “..limit global warming to 2degrees”

    I am with Plimer. There is no evidence that human CO2 production causes warming on planet Earth.

    But playing another game, to think that we can lower the temperature of the planet or raise it, is a tad egotistical. It is akin to the alien discussion – if they existed, only humans would assume that they would want to contact us.

  14. incoherent rambler

    There was some numptie on abc the other day pushing the line the warmth is hiding in the ocean………..Indian Ocean to be specific.

    Yep, it is confirmed. It was spotted in the same area as the missing airliner.
    Do the arithmetic, it is a big planet and we are a small species.

  15. incoherent rambler

    Can’t find the airliners, can’t find the hot spot, can’t find the sunken treasure, can’t find a yeti, can’t find a bigfoot …
    if we could just tidy the place up a bit …
    And you think I am crazy.

  16. 2dogs

    they don’t know because atmospheric CO2 concentration has been increasing linearly at 2ppm per year while emissions have been increasing exponentially. No-one knows how the natural carbon sinks operate.

    Huh? A (temp) is a function of B (CO2 ppm), which, in turn, is a function of C (CO2 emissions). They are forecasting A based on C, but don’t have any estimate of B?

  17. blogstrop

    This reckless spending climate scam numptyism must stop!

  18. Rabz

    The UN is calling for national leaders to sign up to a global agreement on reduction in human CO2 emissions that will “limit global warming to 2C degrees above the pre-industrial level

    Insanity. Utterly barking mad, cat hurling, howling at the moon crazy.

  19. Insanity. Utterly barking mad, cat hurling, howling at the moon crazy.

    Nope.
    I certainly can’t improve on that, Rabz.
    Bugger it – I’ll try:

    Insanity. Utterly barking mad, carpet shredding,cat hurling, screechbat frothing, howling at the moon crazy.

    It’s bigger, but doesn’t seem to be that much of an improvement. I’ll leave it with you, Rabz.

  20. jupes

    So this report has cost us about $20 million.

    I’m betting this $20 mil doesn’t get us a graph showing the planet stopped warming 18.5 years ago.

  21. Rabz

    Thanks, Winston.

    I was trying not to resort to hyberbowl.

  22. Fred Lenin

    The fact that the criminal socialists at the untidy nayshuns get a ten per cent cut of tge warming tax. And their millionaire socialist owners rip off electricity consumers would have nothing to do with the panic to get the stupid selfish politicans to sign this crap ,so tge lawtrade can make a fortune enforcing it talk about Mafia !

  23. duncanm

    We’re passing the hat around for Charlie. As you know he’s leaving the company after 30 years’ service. We’d like to get him a gold Rolex but chip in whatever you can and we’ll get what we can afford.

    Australia should be the guy who drop a used condom in the envelope.

  24. duncanm

    Tell you what,

    the Eemian was pre-industrial. Let’s agree to keep below that.

  25. Craig

    Sent an email to Chris Bowens office asking for empirical evidence of CAGW in relation to CO2 and some boof head sent me back 3 political statements from 2001, 2004 and 2008. Useless and this is the shit Bowen is basing the carbon tax on? Statements dating back nearly 15 years?

    Chump change from our ministers of the crown, clueless, feckless and pathetic.

  26. braddles

    The U.N., bless their hearts, have come up with a figure for the cost of meeting these targets. In just 15 years, they want at least 89 trillions dollars. Forget your mere millions and billions, that’s Trillion with a T. The figure has actually been published in a world Bank report.

    Jo Nova spotted this one.

  27. Empire

    The U.N., bless their hearts, have come up with a figure for the cost of meeting these targets. In just 15 years, they want at least 89 trillions dollars.

    Sure thing. A carefully considered diplomatic response is warranted.

    “Hey UN, here’s 2 bob. Go buy yourself an ice cream, then fuck off and die. That’s the way, run along now.”

  28. Fred Furkenburger

    I still have problems with the question as to why the whole shebang hasn’t been brought to heel by the actual enunciation of the actual science. There is so much scientific evidence out there which exposes the so-called “science” of AGW that it just beggars the imagination that the conservative side of politics won’t/can’t use it to debunk the scam for what it is. One has to wonder, are our conservative pollies so stupid or so scared that they can’t tell the truth! Are they so ignorant that they can’t see the absolute rent seeking industry for what it is! We are all going down one big hole because those who we need to ask the right questions and expose the scams won’t!

  29. cohenite

    A good article but every aspect of the emissions, CO2 concentration, forcing conglomerate is estimated, made up, plucked out of an arse and waved around as though it was newly minted from heaven.

    Seriously, its all bullshit, that’s why they can’t predict the weather more than 3 days and even then they’re flicking coins after one.

  30. Rafe Champion

    IPCC tells us the warming effect of a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration is anywhere between 1.5C degrees and 4.5C degrees. (So much for ‘settled science’!)

    In some progressive circles the effect is under one degree.

  31. zipping

    If it was a “travesty” that they couldn’t account for the lack of warming in 2009, what is it in 2015?

  32. I Am the Walras, Equilibrate and Price Take

    Rabz
    #1688736, posted on May 21, 2015 at 7:14 pm
    Insanity. Utterly barking mad, cat hurling, howling at the moon crazy

    That’s actually an understatement.

  33. Robert O

    It requires the same irrationality which would have us believe that it is possible to produce industrial power 24/7 with wind generators operating less than 30 % of the time, and more often about 17%, and some solar for 4-5 hours a day if it isn’t cloudy.

Comments are closed.