The demographic transition is the reduction in the birth rate that occurs when people achieve some level of economic progress. China is a spectacular example where the rising middle class are having one or two children per family despite the end of the one child policy.
Look for an emission transition along the same lines. Not that CO2 is a bad thing, far from it, just ask any green plant. But just to calm the fevered brows of the carbonphobes consider that the US and the EU have lowered their emissions, suggesting that they have come through the emission transition. In the US that came from the fracking revolution and in the developing world it will come from nuclear power and modern coal plants with some help from the sun and the wind. I don’t expect much more reduction until nuclear power is a bigger contributor and old coal-fires plants are replaced by new models that generate 25% less CO2 per unit of power.
China and India have been driving the recent increase in emissions, especially China, but still you can see a hint of the emission transition They are going to have more power without a great deal more CO2 because they are building nuclear capacity and also new coal fired power plants.
India is progressing faster than China at this stage, as you would expect because they lagging on the same path. The same thing is happening in other countries as well on a smaller scale.
In the meantime there is a growing awareness of the hole that we have dug with RE and expect a lot more talk about the need to keep coal in the system. Even Audrey Zibelman is talking about it, so it must be true.
As you would expect, cost of living trumps climate change as a concern for the punters while the ALP is tying itself in knots looking for a way to placate the Greens and at the same time get out of the hole that Bill Shorten dug. Where are the adults in the room? But wait, you can say the same about the Coalition.
A disgraceful call from the PM overnight – reported in The Australian, taking pride in Australia’s multi-billion dollar spend to meet Kyoto targets. What a disaster for the farmers and the nation.
Scott Morrison said Australia was doing the “heavy lifting” in setting and meeting its climate targets after investing billions of dollars to exceed the Kyoto 2020 target — to reduce emissions by 5 per cent below 2000 levels — by 367 million tonnes.
“Plenty of other countries set targets; not many like Australia meet them in the way we meet them,” the Prime Minister said.
UPDATE FROM THE COMMENTS
Good call Mark M and great links, of course, India is just starting the steep part of the increase in emissions. Great news for us! I don’t care where it ends up or how long it takes to get there, it took about 150 years for the US to get to the (possible) transition. China is doing it faster because they have the benefit of Western experience and technology.
In reply to Bruce of Newcastle, of course there is a more or less linear relation ship between GDP and emissions, the point is how far does it go after the first industrial revolution is replaced to some extent by the information economy that requires less concrete and steel (apart from windmills).
I can understand a decline in emissions per capita in the US but the decline in total emissions is strange, I would have expected total emissions to track up in line with population.
Hence my disbelief about the AEMO master plan a few years ago that projected “flattening” demand for power in Australia, maybe they were counting on smelters and high power industries going overseas. No benefit to the planet but ruinous for us.
Also I don’t trust official figures for anything from the developing world:)