The outcome of the Obama – China climate deal by 2030: accounting for under-reporting of Chinese CO2 emissions

In November 2014, to much fanfare, President Obama announced that a ground breaking agreement had been concluded with China on Climate. This accord was an important precursor to the major Paris climate conference in December 2015, where it was anticipated that a definitive and binding Climate agreement could have been reached.  These notes follow through that 2014 USA – China agreement as far as it concerns likely future Global CO2 emissions up until the year 2030.

Essentially the agreement committed Western Nations to reduce CO2 emissions substantially, whilst China, India and the rest of the developing world would continue its CO2 emissions growth until at least 2030 to ensure that continuing enhancement of the living standards of their populations.  Only then might China, and thus by implication India and the other developing Nations might be expected stabilise the growth of their CO2 emissions.

Recently the Chinese have revealed that they have been  under-reporting their CO2 emissions to a substantial extent.  The assessment of the additional CO2 emissions from China is calculated by assuming the the emissions previously reported  by BP had increased by 17% in 2014.  Prior to that emissions are increased by 1% every year from 1998 onwards.  This may be an underestimate.

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The Obama – China agreement on climate will do nothing to stop the escalation of CO2 emissions from the developing world, especially from China up until 2030.  And continuing at current rates of growth will have little impact on the improved development of most of the underdeveloped world, ~55% of the then world population.

The impact of growing CO2 emissions from the developing world was acknowledged by Professor Richard Muller in his October 2010 presentation here:

These notes simply take known data about current world CO2 emissions and population as at the end of 2014 and carry out a straight-line extrapolation of that data forward to 2030 using the period from 2000 to 2014 as the indicator of rate of change. The base source CO2 emissions data up to the end of 2014 is at:

This presentation refers to earlier analyses of the growth of CO2 emissions at:

The overall impact on the developed and developing worlds in terms of both total CO2 emissions and resulting likely emissions / head of population is shown below:

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Both this and the former analyses divide the world’s nations into seven logical groups with distinct attitudes to CO2 control:

developed nations:

  • United States of America, attempting CO2 emissions control under Obama’s EPA and already achieving marked CO2 emissions reduction because of the growing use of shale gas for electricity generation.
  • The European Union and EFTA , (including the UK), currently believers in action to combat Global Warming and where environmental action groups are resisting the exploration for shale gas and the use of Nuclear energy.
  • Japan, the former Soviet Union, Canada and Australia are developed nations, currently rejecting controls on CO2 emissions.

developing nations:

  • advanced developing nations, still developing rapidly including:

South Korea, Iran, South Africa, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Indonesia and Taiwan: (KR IR ZA MX SA BR ID TW).

  • China and Hong Kong: developing very rapidly.
  • India: developing rapidly from a low base.
  • Rest of World (~160 Nations): developing quite rapidly but from a low base.

The extension of the trends between 2000 and 2014 to 2030 is shown below:
Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 06.49.08

The following table outlines the straightforward basis for the extrapolation of data that could well result from the Obama – China climate deal.  In particular it shows the scale of the radical change 2000 – 2014 – 2030, with China moving from ~14% to 41% of all global emissions over the 30 year period.  The EU(27)+EFTA moving from ~17% to 6% over the same period.  The position of the USA is also diminished from ~25% to ~10% over the same period.

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This article predicts the likely CO2 emissions picture by 2030 the possible end point of the Obama – China climate deal in 2030.  Thereafter China has suggested that its CO2 emissions would stabilise and no longer increase significantly.  This analysis uses the CO2 emissions development from 2000 to 2014 as the predictor to further CO2 emissions straight line emissions growth.

According to these straightforward calculations overall world CO2 emissions could well grow by ~42% up to ~51,000,000,000 tonnes.  The Developed world, if it continues on its current track would see a reduction overall of ~711,000,000 tonnes over the 16 year period, whereas the developing world would see the substantial increase of 15,000,000,000 tonnes at the same time.  Only the developed grouping, JP RU CA AU, would see a marginal increase of CO2 emissions.

By 2030 the CO2 emissions of developing Nations could well exceed the developed Nations by some 2 1/2  times.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 07.00.00

The largest contributor to the growth in emissions is inevitably China at an additional ~10,900,000,000 tonnes, followed at a quarter of that level by the other rapidly developing economies, KR IR ZA MX SA BR ID TW.  India and the other 160 underdeveloped nations would grow significantly percentage wise but only modestly in absolute terms.  India will have grown to about 1/6 the rate of China and the other 160 Nations grouped together at about 1/4 of the China emissions.

China by 2030 will then be responsible for about 37% of CO2 emissions worldwide and even if China were by that time to limit its emission growth it would be likely to remain with that share of worldwide CO2 emissions whilst other developing nations increased their CO2 outputs to improve the development level of their own populations.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 07.06.55

However more important will be the likely resulting CO2 emissions / head which give a significant guide to the level of National development.  The consumption figures for the USA and Europe will diminish by about 20% each whereas the other developed group, JP RU CA AU, may well advance marginally by ~+6%.  The  JP RU CA AU group could well exceed the emissions/head level of the USA.  China by 2030 would exceed the four other groups and would approach similar levels of emission / head as the USA.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 07.04.46

It appears that with growing populations in India and the developing world their overall CO2 emissions / head will remain fairly constant.  On the other hand some of the developing Nations will advance their CO2 emissions / head substantially with China approaching ~13.5 tonnes / head for its whole population by then of some 1.5 billion.  By 2030 this will be almost twice the value in Europe at 6.2 tonnes / head and is approaching the then 14.6 tonnes / head level in the USA,  The European level will level will be close to the other rapidly developing Nations, KR IR ZA MX SA BR ID TW.

Europe is likely to diminish its CO2 emissions / head to as little as ~ 6.4 tonnes / head.   This will then be close to the worldwide average and could even be overtaken by the rapidly developing nations, KR IR ZA MX SA BR ID TW.

It is not clear how much reduction of industrial capability will result from these reduced European  emissions but it could continue to cause detrimental economic damage to European competitiveness when compared to other markets in the developing world, which are less concerned about CO2 reduction to control  “Climate Change”.

It should also be noted that Germany, the major CO2 emitter in Europe, is currently adding to its CO2 output by increasing it’s use of coal for base load electrical energy production, so eventually European emissions reduction may not be achieved to the extent anticipated here over the coming 16 years.

Although the developing Nations of India and the Rest of World (160 nations) should see substantial growth (about +50%), but that will only be growing from their present very low  base.  As a result resulting from their population growth they will not significantly add to their emissions / head and thus will see little increase to their level of development.  They will remain at only ~2 tonnes / head, which would mean the provision of electricity for these 4.8 billion people by then about 56% of the  world population will still remain severely restricted.

So there will continue to be substantial continuing demand from both India and the other 160 underdeveloped nations for more access to reliable electricity supply.  This demand could well increase CO2 emissions for these 4.8 billion people and thus the estimate for 2030 of ~51,000,000,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions overall may well be a significant underestimate.  This is particularly so as these developing nations all will have access to indigenous available coal reserves.

Just doubling of the CO2 / head for this underdeveloped population level to the modest level of 4 tonnes /head  would increase world CO2 emissions from ~ 51,000,000,000 tonnes by a further ~10,000,000,000 tonnes to the region of 61,000,000,000 tonnes.

Temperature Consequences

At a total of ~51,000,000,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum by 2030 when compared to the total of CO2 in the atmosphere it amounts to about 1/600 by weight.  But about half of that increased amount is quickly re-absorbed by the oceans and sequestered by improving the fertility of all plant life on the planet.

Current CO2 levels are ~400 ppmv but an apparent optimum for plant fertility, for example as used in greenhouses, is in excess of 1000 ppmv.  And past history shows that concentrations of CO2 can be at many thousands of parts per million with no ill effects on the temperature of the climate, except for more luxuriant plant life.

So at the rate of emissions at ~51,000,000,000 tonnes per annum, this would be equivalent to ~5 ppmv rate / annum, but with 50% absorption, it would take more than 200 years to add that extra amount of CO2 to the atmosphere to 1000 ppmv, if that were at all possible by burning fossil fuels.  In the 16 year period to 2030 a further 20-30 ppmv could be added to the world’s CO2 concentration.

According to the calculations of the logarithmic diminution of the effectiveness of CO2 as greenhouse gas, using IPCC figures, shown in:

This additional CO2 up to as much as 1000 ppmv could only add something between 0.4°C and 0.9°C to world temperatures in total, (this range assumes that water vapour and clouds are responsible for between 90% and 80% of the 33°C greenhouse effect).  And beyond 1000 ppmv any further CO2 additions to the atmosphere will have very little effect indeed on temperature because of the effect of logarithmically diminishing returns in terms of added temperature with further increases of CO2 concentrations.

With increased plant productivity, a slightly warmer climate and with greater areas available for agriculture this can hardly be seen as a world-wide catastrophe nor as an immediate global emergency.


All attempts to reduce CO2 emissions assume that any man-made warming of the climate is dangerous and that it could be controlled by reducing Man-made CO2 emissions mainly by the developed western Nations.  But by 2030 those developed Nations would only be responsible for some ~27% of global CO2 emissions. And their likely reduction in emissions would be marginal because it could only amount to about 1/20 of the increased of emissions from the developing world.

It is clear that even the continuation of current CO2 emissions growth associated with population growth in the rest of the underdeveloped world will do little to enhance the restricted level of development for the larger part (~55%) of the then global population.  Although with the downturn in the Chinese economy their level of CO2 emissions may not continue in the straight line expansion as anticipated here, it would seem likely that demand for enhanced living standards throughout the much larger populations of the underdeveloped world are likely to compensate for any reduction in the Chinese emissions growth rate.

Western world opinion has conflated CO2 from burning fossil fuels, as a pollutant, with other real pollutants that can arise from burning fossil fuels (SO2, N2O, particulate matter, etc.).

But CO2 is currently close to an historically low level in the atmosphere and any real reduction of CO2 levels would jeopardise all life on earth by damaging the Carbon cycle by means of which all plants survive.

It is clear that man-made CO2 emissions will continue to escalate and no substantial temperature reduction or control of Climate Change can occur as a result of the Obama – China climate deal.  And in addition any escalation of CO2 levels would be beneficial to life on earth.

From ice core records for our current benign Holocene interglacial it is clear that the previous millennium 1000 – 2000 AD was the coldest in the last 10,000 years, some 1.5°C lower than the Holocene climate optimum, ~9000 years ago.  At 10,000 years old our current benign Holocene interglacial is now long in the tooth.  That would seem to point to a coming real glaciation either this century, next century or in this millennium.  That in combination with the current Dalton minimum solar characteristics means that real cooling as opposed to warming is more than likely to be imminent.

Any future cooling is likely to make any warming, whether man-made or not, that occurred in the late 20th century, look wholly beneficial but sadly trivial and entirely irrelevant.

One thought on “The outcome of the Obama – China climate deal by 2030: accounting for under-reporting of Chinese CO2 emissions

  1. Pingback: Ed Hoskins: Charting the outcome of the Obama – China climate deal by 2030 | Tallbloke's Talkshop

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