Thursday, December 8, 2011
World CO2 Emissions and Durban
More than 10,000 ministers, officials, activists and scientists from 194 countries are meeting in Durban in what appears to be a last ditch attempt to extend the Koyoto treaty and to try and to try to tax all the developed nations to pay for climate impacts on poorer nations through the Green Fund for climate assistance. Durban, the 17th annual Conference of the Parties (COP17) to be held since the United Nations' first began to coordinate an attempt to control global warming through carbon dioxide control has reached the final stretch. At this point it appears that the conference will close without any agreement. The European Union refuses to extend without the United States and China committing and neither country appears likely to make any legally binding commitment. The Climate Change movement has lost its urgency. The failure to get any binding international agreement in Durban may be caused by the global economic problems or by the failure of the Global Warming/ Climate Change models to predict temperatures. Levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst-case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago, but temperatures have not risen as projected by the climate models.
The 1997 Kyoto Protocol bound developed countries to cuts of about 5-6% from 1990 levels in global emissions of greenhouse gases as represented by carbon dioxide by 2012. President George W. Bush rejected Kyoto in 2001, saying it did not impose emissions limits on emerging industrialized nations – chiefly China and India, and now China has surpassed the United States as the world largest emitter of greenhouse gases. China (6.9 billons tons in 2009), the United States (5.2 billion tons 2009), India, the Russian Federation (1.5 billion tons in 2009) and the European Union (3.0 billion tons in 2009) were the largest contributors to global emissions growth to a total of almost 30 billion tons of CO2 in 2009 (the specific breakout for 2010 was unavailable from the International Energy Agency, IEA, but the increase worldwide was about 6% 2010). Canada, who signed the Koyoto pact blew through their CO2 levels exceeding their 2000 levels and joined the United States as among the highest per capita emitters on the planet. Canada had agreed to cut emissions 6% below 1990 levels by 2012 as part of the Kyoto Protocol, but Canada’s emissions (0.7 billion tons in 2009) are now 17 % above 1990 levels, largely because of increased emissions related to the development of the Canadian oil industry. Canada failed to meet its Kyoto targets because they refused to take the large economic hit necessary for a big, cold, northern, sparsely populated, oil and natural gas producing nation to achieve them. There are no meaningful penalties for missing a Kyoto emission target. Even the most cooperative countries are missing their Kyoto targets.
However, Japan has been faithful to their word. Japan's Trade Ministry said on Tuesday emissions of CO2 fell 5.6 % to 1.075 billion tons in the year ended March 2010, bringing the Japanese below their Kyoto goal of 1.186 billion tons a year, when taking into account the volumes of carbon offsets Japan has bought from abroad. However, Japan announced that they are reconsidering plans to cut carbon-dioxide emissions by 25% by 2020 due to closing of a significant portion of its nuclear power generation, and the costs of the carbon-credit programs that cost the county almost $11 billion to purchase the carbon offsets by investing in carbon abatement programs in other countries.
The failure to get a binding international agreement in Durban has the Climate Model believers in a frenzy as CO2 emissions are up 6%, to over 30 billion tons, in 2010 40% above the 1990 level. This level of CO2 is higher than the worst-case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago. Securing a commitment from major polluters such as China and India to sign up to a Kyoto II in the future – a move spearheaded by the British and European Union Energy Secretaries appear doomed to failure. The failure to get a binding international agreement in Durban may be caused by the continuing steep rises in annual global CO2 emissions without an accompanying significant rise in global temperatures. Levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst-case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago, but temperatures have not risen as projected by the climate models. The relationship of climate change to worldwide CO2 levels may not be the one assumed in the climate models. In addition, the difficulty in reducing CO2 levels worldwide can be seen in the diagram above. Canada, Russia, and Japan withdrawing from the Koyoto Treaty and the United States not making a binding commitment despite President Obama’s commitment in Copenhagen to reduce United States emissions of CO2 17% by 2020 has doomed Durban.