Every June BP publish their statistical review of world energy.
One element of their comprehensive set of spreadsheets is a table of CO2 emissions by world countries since 1965. For the purposes of this post, the CO2 emissions data provided by BP here is assumed to be correct.
That data is here and aggregated into seven Nation groups according to nominal state of development and attitudes towards controlling CO2 emissions, as follows:
- JP CIS CA AU
- EU (28)
- Nominally Developing
- China HK
- KR IR ZA MX SA BR ID TW
- Rest of World (~160 Nations)
The aggregate data of CO2 emissions growth is summarised from 1965 onwards are shown above. The marked differential between the Developed and nominally Developing worlds is shown below.
- The virtual stabilisation of world emissions 2012 – 2019
- The continuing diminution of CO2 emissions from the Developed world from 2005 onwards
- The growing escalation of CO2 emissions from the “Developing” world, including China and India. This growth of CO2 emissions will inevitably continue and accelerate.
Contrasting the Developed and Developing worlds
Developing world emissions overtook Developed world CO2 emissions in 2005 and they have been escalating ever since. CO2 emissions from the Developing world are now ~900,000,000 tonnes higher than the Developed world’s emissions. The prognosis is for Developing world CO2 emissions to continue to grow and to accelerate further.
CO2 emissions in the Developing world are accelerating as the quality of the lives for people are progressively improving. This emissions growth will further escalate as the Chinese develop Coal-fired power stations at home and via the “Belt and Road programme” throughout the developing world. Even so at least ~1.12 billion people, ~15% of the global population, still have no access to reliable electricity.
Having been relatively stable for the previous 5 years, global CO2 emissions grew last year by about 2.0% and again in 2019 by ~+1.4%. All of this growth was in the Developing world, whereas emissions in the Developed world was reduced. In 2019 the overall growth was ~484,000,000 tonnes despite all the international “commitments” of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Since 1990 CO2 emissions from the Developed world have decreased, whereas the Developing world has shown a fourfold increase since 1985. This differential has arisen as a result of:
- to the off-shoring of major CO2 emitting industries to parts of the world that have less rigorous environmental standards or who care less about CO2 emissions
- the growing use of Coal-firing for electricity generation in the Developing world, particularly as supported by Chinese technology exports via its “Belt and Road Programme”
- the use of Fracked natural gas for electricity generation as opposed to Coal-firing as in the USA
- the earlier 1990s “dash for gas” policy in the UK.
On the other hand, Weather Dependent Renewables, have made very little contribution to CO2 emissions reduction, if at all. When looked at in the round, from their manufacture to demolition, they are hardly CO2 emissions nor energy neutral over their service life.
The use of Biomass for electricity generation, although considered to be “carbon neutral”, actually increases the immediate contribution of CO2 to the atmosphere, producing almost twice as much CO2 as Coal firing.
Representation by Region
The pie diagram above shows the proportion of CO2 emissions as of the end of 2019. These 2019 data are set out in tabular form below.
The graph below of total CO2 emission history show that up until 2018 there has been an overall reduction of CO2 emissions from most of the Developed economies since 1990.
This analysis divides the world’s nations into seven logical groups with distinct attitudes to CO2 emissions control:
Developed nations: population ~1.19 billion – ~37% CO2 emissions.
United States of America, now President Trump is gradually rescinding many of Obama’s climate initiatives, including USA support for the Paris Climate accord: population 328m: 14.5% of global CO2 emissions.
Japan, the former Soviet Union, (CIS), Canada and Australia, (JP CIS CA AU), are developed nations, ambivalent towards controls on CO2 emissions and not necessarily adhering to the Paris Climate Accord: population 356m: 12.4% of global CO2 emissions.
The European Union(28), (including the United Kingdom): population 508m: 9.7% of global CO2 emissions., currently believing in action to combat Global Warming, and their governments are generally enthusiastic supporters of the Paris Climate Accord as the European Union. However it should be noted that the populace of the EU(28) is losing enthusiasm for Green agendas for example: the Yellow Vests reaction in France to increase of fuel taxes on grounds of combatting climate change and subsidy support for Renewables is being curtailed and it is likely that many of the pioneering commitments of the past 25 years made to controlling climate change will not retain subsidy support and therefore will be abandoned in future.
Developing nations: population ~6.45 billion – 72% CO2 emissions
China and Hong Kong: developing very rapidly, with no effective commitments under the Paris Climate Accord: population 1,390m: 29% CO2 emissions. China is responsible for the continuing development of its own Coal-Fired installations, multiple Coal-fired installations in the Third World and for the development Fracking for its own Gas fields. Although China makes gestures towards Renewable Energy and has benefitted from Solar PV manufacture, nonetheless its actions are not restricted by the Paris Climate Accord. At the same time, China is advancing the development of new generations of Nuclear power.
India is developing rapidly from a low base with no virtually commitments under the Paris Climate Accord: population 1,339m: 7.3% CO2 emissions. India is continuing the rapid development of its own Coal-Fired installations. Although India makes gestures towards Renewable Energy its actions are hardly in accordance the Paris Climate Accord. At the same time, India is advancing the development of new generations of Nuclear power.
South Korea, Iran, South Africa, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Indonesia and Taiwan, (KR IR ZA MX SA BR ID TW): the more advanced developing nations, are still growing rapidly, with minimal commitments under the Paris Climate accord: population 900m: 12.2% CO2 emissions.
Rest of World (~160 Nations), population 2,758m: 14.8% CO2 emissions, like India the remainder of the underdeveloped world is developing rapidly from a low base of 1.8 tonnes CO2/head. These nations have no real commitments under the Paris Climate Accord, other than the anticipated receipt of “Climate Funds” from developed nations.
The USA, simply by exploiting shale gas for electricity generation, has already reduced its annual CO2 emissions by some by ~1,000,000,000 tonnes since 2005. That alone has already had a greater CO2 emission reduction effect than the entire Kyoto protocol and the Paris Climate Accord.
CO2 emissions from the Developed economies ambivalent about action on CO2 (JP CIS CA AU) have hardly grown since 2005.
The European Union, EU(28) has reduced its CO2 emissions by ~960,000,000 tonnes since 2005.
There has been a further rapid escalation of Chinese CO2 emissions since the year 2000.
China overtook the USA CO2 emissions in 2005, and Chinese emissions are now ~4,800,000,000 tonnes higher than the USA. After a brief hiatus in 2014 the escalation in Chinese CO2 emissions now continues. Chinese emissions have grown by ~3,900,000,000 tonnes since 2005 and this growth will continue as China continues to build coal-fired power stations to supply the bulk of its electricity for industrial and domestic demands.
India has accelerating CO2 emissions, it has grown from a low base in 2005, by ~1,200,000,000 tonnes. India is building coal fired power stations to increase the supply of electricity as ~25% of its population still has no access to reliable electric power.
There is also inexorable CO2 emissions growth from the underdeveloped Rest of the World economies, from their low base, they have grown by ~2,000,000,000 tonnes since 2001.
Even as long ago as October 2010 Professor Richard Muller made the dilemma for all those who hope to control global warming by reducing CO2 emissions, by CO2 reductions from Western Nations, very clear. In essence he said:
“the Developing World is not joining-in with CO2 emission reductions nor should it have any intention of doing so. The failure of worldwide action negates the unilateral action of any individual Western Nation”
By 2018 CO2 emissions from the Developing world were some 62% of the global emissions. India and the underdeveloped world will certainly be continuing to promote their own development to attain comparable well-being levels to their other peer group developing nations.
Recent CO2 emissions growth
The progressive changes indicating recent CO2 emissions growth can be seen in the graphic below.
Global CO2 emissions had previously plateaued. But since 2016 they have shown a significant uplift. Unsurprisingly the emissions growth has mainly occurred in the developing nation groups India and the Rest of World as their quality of life is progressively improving. After a fall in 2015 – 2016 in 2017 – 2019 the was a significant uplift in Chinese emissions.
Notably the only Nation that had consistently reduced its CO2 emissions was the USA, that reduction resumed again in 2019.
With increasing installation of Coal-Fired generation throughout the developing world it is now inevitable that Global CO2 emissions will continue to show significant growth, entirely negating the objectives of the Paris Climate accord.
CO2 emissions / head
Possibly more significant than the total CO2 emissions output is the comparison of the CO2 emissions / head for the various nation groups. This measure represents the level of development of various Nations.
In 2003 China overtook the world-wide average for CO2 emissions / head and surpassed the rapidly developing nations. China’s emissions / head have increased in 2018 to ~6.92 tonnes / head. China and the EU(28) emissions/ head had been closely aligned since 2014 but China has now surpassed the EU(28) at ~6.92 tonnes / head.
India’s CO2 emissions have grown by 4.7 times since 1965 and are now accelerating. That emissions rate is likely to grow continuously with increased use of coal for electricity generation.
India and the bulk of the underdeveloped nations, (~55% of the world’s population), still remain at a low level of CO2 emissions levels/head of about ~1.81 tonnes/head, this level is about 1/8 of the level of the USA and about 1/4 of the level in the EU(28) and China. As a result, these under-developed Nations have poor access to reliable power and substantial potential for further CO2 emissions growth.
The USA has already reduced its CO2 emissions/head by 1/3 since 2000. This has mainly arisen from the substitution of shale gas for electricity generation replacing Coal-firing.
The CO2 emission reduction has not been achieved by the introduction of Weather Dependent Renewables, which will always require ancillary fossil fuel back-up to compensate for their intermittent unreliability. In addition their raw material requirements, manufacture, installation, etc. will always continue to need substantial fossil fuel input.
The EU(28) with active legal measures had reduced emissions until ~2013. Much of that downward trend is largely attributed to their declining economies and the displacement of industrial processes to countries with laxer environmental regimes.
Russia, Japan, Canada and Australia have hardly grown their emissions/head since 2005.
Russia is actively involved in backing anti-fracking campaigns throughout Europe and in the USA via its support of various NGO groups. This is an obvious policy to protect the large Gasprom markets for Russian Gas in the West. This has achieved an energy stranglehold on Western nations, as was well demonstrated in the Ukraine. The export of Fracked gas from the USA to Europe and the possibility of indigenous fracking might break such a stranglehold, if the local protests can be ignored.
CO2 emissions / head for India and the Rest of the World’s Underdeveloped nations (~53% of the world population) remains low at ~1.8 tonnes / head, (still ~40% of the Global average) meaning that their state of serious human deprivation and underdevelopment is continuing, even though it is progressively being rectified.
India’s growth in CO2 emissions 2018 – 2018 was by a further 162,000,000 tonnes. India has some 450 new Coal-fired generation plants currently under development.
China, (still nominally considered here as a “Developing Nation”), according to its un-concerned attitude to the Paris climate accord, showed domestic CO2 emission growth of 2.14%, 314,000,000 tonnes in 2019. However, China is also promoting the use of Coal-firing for electricity generation both domestically, (300 – 500 Coal-fired plants) and across the Developing world with some 300 new Coal-fired generating plants currently in the pipeline.
European Union (28) CO2 Emissions
When the participating nations particularly in the environmentally active / Green aware EU are compared with Chinese CO2 emissions/head, the following picture arises.
Average EU(28) CO2 emissions / head are now exceeded by China by ~6%. EU(28) CO2 emissions overall have fallen slightly in 2019, notably in Germany and remarkably further in France The UK has seen a significant drop in CO2 emissions reaching 5.46 tonnes/head in 2019.
At 4.26 tonnes/head, France, has the lowest CO2 emission rates in the developed world, below the global average. This is entirely due to the French long-term commitments to electricity generation by Nuclear energy. The French experience shows that comparatively low CO2 emissions can be achieved in a developed country using consistent Nuclear power supplies. Nonetheless they are unlikely to be met using unreliable Weather Dependent Renewable Energy technologies.
The unique performance of France as a Developed country limiting its CO2 emissions must question the logic of Green attitudes in opposing of Nuclear power. If CO2 emissions really were a concern to arrest Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming / Man-made Climate Change, these results, particularly from France, show starkly the very real advantage of using Nuclear power for electricity generation.
So, President Macron’s stated intention to reduce Nuclear generation from ~75% to 50% is particularly anachronistic. Green attitudes in the French government are now threatening to destroy this unique French national asset.
At 8.78 tonnes /head, Germany virtually is alone amongst the EU(28) still substantially exceeds the CO2 emissions/head level of China and is well above the EU(28) average, in spite of its major costly policy of “die Energiewende” resulting in the world’s highest power costs. Germany, one of the largest CO2 emitters in Europe, has emissions/head about twice the worldwide average but it is only ~21% higher than China. Germany’s emissions / head had increased recently because they are now burning large quantities of brown coal to compensate for the “irrational” closure of their nuclear generating capacity. Following the Fukushima disaster, the German government position of rapidly eliminating nuclear power in a country with no earthquake risk and no chance of tsunamis is emotional and should have been non-tenable.
The United Kingdom Example
The UK was responsible for 1.1%, 387,000,000 tonnes of the 2019 total 34,169,000,000 tonnes of global CO2 emissions, and now the UK government has committed to reduce CO2 emissions to net Zero by 2050 at an estimated cost in excess of some £1,000,000,000,000.
The total UK CO2 emissions output 391,000,000 tonnes was overtaken in 2019 by just the growth in CO2 emissions from China, India and the other Developing Nations; that growth alone amounted to ~504,000,000 tonnes in 2019.
Any attempt to reduce UK CO2 emissions at enormous costs would therefore seem entirely fatuous.
The futility of Western de-carbonisation
It is clear that CO2 emissions are continuing to grow in the Developing World and can be anticipated to continue indefinitely.
Western industrial companies will seek more congenial energy / business environments, with laxer attitudes towards CO2 emissions to maintain the performance of their businesses. So, the futility of the expenditure of vast resources on Green activities in Europe and throughout the Western world is clear.
But the self-harming actions of the Western Governments in response to Alarmist Green thinking have already caused gross risks to Western energy security by the imposition of unreliable and intermittent Weather Dependent Renewables, with substantially increased costs for private energy users, in addition to damaging the economics of all Western manufacturing industries.
The effective elimination of Fracking as a technique for fossil fuel recovery in Western Europe is self-inflicted harm by “Green Virtue Signalling” have been to the financial benefit of Russia and China in the continuation of “a covert Cold War”.
Any CO2 reduction policy should also be seen in a longer-term context.
- According to reliable Ice Core records the last millennium 1000 – 2000 AD was the coldest of our current Holocene interglacial and the world had already been cooling comparatively rapidly for 3000 years, in fact since before Roman times ~1000 BC.
- The modern short pulse of beneficial Global Warming stopped some 20 years ago and recent global temperatures are now stable or declining.
- At 11,000 years long, our congenial Holocene interglacial, responsible for all man-kind’s advances, from living in caves to microprocessors, is coming an eventual end.
- So, the World will very soon, (on a geological time scale), revert to a true glaciation, again resulting in mile high ice sheets over New York
- The weather gets worse and Man-kind’s survival more difficult in colder times.
The prospect of even moving in a cooling direction is something to be truly scared about both for the biosphere and for man-kind.
Spending any effort, for solely emotional and childish reasons, without true cost benefit analysis and without full engineering due diligence for any proposed technical solutions, let alone at GDP scale costs, trying to stop the UK’s 1% or the EU’s 10% of something that has not been happening for 3 millennia has to be monumentally ill-advised.
An estimate of the additional 60 year lifetime costs of some €2 trillion that has already been committed for the current installation of Weather Dependent Renewables in Europe is given at.
According to Bjorn Lomborg the ~€125billion German investment in solar power not including other Weather Dependent Renewable investments, could only ever reduce the onset of Global Warming by a matter of a few hours by the year 2100, if at all.
And more recently Bjorn Lomborg has produced evidence that the total effect of any agreement in the terms proposed in Paris could only control future warming in 2100 by less than 0.2°C.