As a hobby, I began some exploration of Anthropogenic Global warming / Climate Change starting with the Professor David MacKay’s book Sustainable energy without the hot air. This book, using as he says “numbers not adjectives”, debunks all the common assertions about the efficacy of weather dependent Renewable energy.
Although Professor Mackay believed that CO2 is contributing significantly to “Global Warming / Climate Change”, he had at long last produced a great deal of quantified common sense on the subject of the efficacy of renewable energy.
Very sadly Professor Mackay died prematurely in April 2016. In spite of the fact that he was a green supporter and agreed with de-carbonisation of the Western economies he was devoutly rational preferring mathematics to Green religious conjecture.
In his final interview he called the concept of powering a western society with Renewable energy an “appalling delusion”.
And I have been trying to look at these questions, just like him as simple “back of the envelope calculations”.
I would hope that these notes follow his lead in as much they attempt to quantify, illustrate and thus question many of the aspects of the Green dogma and the assertions of the possibility of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming / Climate Change just with simple mathematics.
The following calculations and graphics are based on information on national CO2 emission levels worldwide published by BP in June 2016 for the period from 1965 up until the end of 2015.
Some highlights arising from the BP data and the revisions arising from the recent announcement of under-reporting of CO2 emissions by China:
- by 2015 CO2 emissions from the developing world were ~60% of the global total.
- China’s CO2 emissions / head for its population of some 1.4 billion have approached the average emissions/head in Europe, and China’s CO2 emissions / head was higher than most of the EU Nations other than for Germany.
- CO2 emissions / head for India and the rest of the world’s Underdeveloped nations (~53% of the world population) remained very low at ~1.7 tonnes / head, meaning that their state of very serious deprivation and underdevelopment is continuing.
- India and the underdeveloped world will be continuing to promote their own development to attain comparable development levels.
- Global CO2 emissions growth was minimal at 0.1% overall.
- India’s growth in CO2 emissions 2014 – 2015 was by a further 5%, whereas China’s CO2 emission growth was slightly negative.
The contrast between the developed and developing worlds remains stark in terms of their history of CO2 emissions and the likely prognosis for their future CO2 output.
Since 1980 CO2 emissions from the developed world have shown a real decrease, whereas the developing world has had a fourfold increase since 1980. That increase is and should be accelerating to ensure the improvement of the quality of the lives of people in the underdeveloped world..
In October 2010 Professor Richard Muller made the dilemma for all those who hope to control global warming by reducing CO2 emissions, particularly from Western Nations, clear: in essence he said:
“the Developing World is not joining-in with CO2 emission reductions nor does it have any intention of doing so. The failure of worldwide action negates the unilateral action of any individual western Nation”.
Representation by Region
This presentation divides the world nations into seven logical groups with distinct attitudes to CO2 control:
developed nations: population 1,184m – 16%.
- United States of America, attempting CO2 emissions control under Obama’s EPA: population 321m – 4.4%.
- The European Union, (including the UK), currently believers in action to combat Global Warming; population 506m – 6.9%.
- Japan, the former Soviet Union, Canada and Australia are developed nations, presently rejecting controls on CO2 emissions: population 356m – 4.9%.
developing nations: population 6,123m – 84%
- South Korea, Iran, South Africa, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Indonesia and Taiwan: more advanced developing nations, still developing rapidly, (KR IR ZA MX SA BR ID TW): population 833m – 11.4%.
- China and Hong Kong: developing very rapidly: population 1,398m – 19.1%.
- India: developing rapidly from a low base: population 1,274m – 17.4%.
- Rest of World (~160 Nations): developing rapidly from a low base: population 2,630m – 36.0%.
CO2 emissions / head
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 Nation groups.
- The EU(28) even with active legal measures have maintained a fairly level CO2 emission rate but have managed to reduce their CO2 emissions/head by ~22% since 2005. Much of the recent downward trend is largely attributed to their declining economies and the displacement of industrial processes to countries with laxer environmental regimes.
- the EU (28) has seen a slight upturn in CO2 emissions / head in the last years particularly because of increased coal burning for electricity generation in Germany
- The USA has already reduced its CO2 emissions/head by ~20% since in 2005, mainly arising from the use of shale gas for electricity generation.
- Russia is actively involved in backing anti-fracking campaigns in Europe so as to protect his largest Gasprom market and to have an energy stranglehold on the West, as he has demonstrated in the Ukraine.
- Russia, Japan, Canada and Australia have only grown their emissions/head by ~1% since 2005.
- China’s CO2 emissions / head have increased ~11 fold since 1965. China overtook the world-wide average in 2003 and surpassed the rapidly developing nations in 2006.
- China’s emissions / head at 6.66 tonnes / head have reduced slightly the average level of the EU(28) nations, (7.33 tonnes /head).
- India’s CO2 emissions have grown by 4.7 times over the period and are now showing recent acceleration. That increasing rate is likely to grow substantially with increased use of coal for electricity generation.
- India and the bulk of the underdeveloped, ~55% of the world’s population, still remain at a very low level of CO2 emissions levels of only about 1.7 tonnes / head, this level is about 1/10 of the level of the USA and about 1/4 of the level in the EU(28).
When the participating nations particularly in the environmentally active / Green aware EU are compared with Chinese CO2 emissions/head, an interesting picture arises, showing:
- EU(28) CO2 emissions overall have increased slightly in 2015, notably in Germany and France but not in the UK
- Chinese CO2 emissions at 6.44 tonnes / head for its 1.4 billion population are already ~45% greater than the worldwide average. China’s emissions have levelled off in 2015.
- China’s emissions / head has now approached, within 7%, the overall average of the whole European Union, EU(28).
- China’s CO2 emissions/head now exceed those in the UK.
- Germany alone still exceeds the CO2 emissions level of China.
- At 4.42 tonnes / head, France, with ~80% nuclear electricity generation, has the lowest CO2 emission rates in the developed world
- France emissions/ head are ~1% below the world-wide average.
- China’s CO2 exceeded France’s CO2 emissions / head in 2009 and are now ~46% higher.
- The EU(28) CO2 emissions / head as a whole is now ~7% higher than China
- Germany, one of the largest CO2 emitters in Europe, has emissions/head ~105% higher than the worldwide average but it is only ~45% higher than China.
- Germany’s emissions/head have tended to increase recently because they are now burning much larger quantities of brown coal to compensate for the “irrational” closure of their nuclear generating capacity.
The performance of France in limiting 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.
But even France’s commitment to Nuclear power is now being questioned. Green attitudes in the French government are now threatening to destroy one of France’s supreme national assets, i.e. its commitment to Nuclear energy for electricity generation, which if it were an advantage, have no significant CO2 emissions.
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 should not be tenable.
Gross CO2 emissions
- there has been a reduction of emissions from developed economies since 1990.
- the USA, simply by exploiting shale gas for electricity generation, has already reduced its CO2 emissions by some 9.5% since 2005. That alone has already had more CO2 emission reduction effect than the entire Kyoto protocol.
- CO2 emissions from the developed economies rejecting action on CO2 (JP RU CA AU) have hardly grown since 2005.
- the European Union, EU(28) has reduced its CO2 emissions by ~22% since 2005
However, CO2 emissions from the developing world as a whole overtook the developed world in 2007 and are now ~60% larger than the developed world’s CO2 emissions.
There has been a very rapid escalation of Chinese CO2 emissions since the year 2000.
- China overtook the USA CO2 emissions in 2006, and Chinese emissions are now ~62% greater than the USA, the escalation in Chinese CO2 emissions continues. Chinese emissions have grown by +75% since 2005 and China continues to build coal fired powerstations to supply the bulk of its electricity as its industrial and domestic demands grow.
- India has accelerating emissions, growing from a low base, by +63% since 2005. India too is building coal fired powerstations to increase the supply of electricity as 25% of its population still has no access to electric power.
- there is inexorable emissions growth from the Rest of the World economies, from a low base, they have grown by +30% since 2005.
So any CO2 emissions reduction achieved by the Developed Nations will be entirely negated by the increases in CO2 emissions from Developing Nations.
A comparison can be made between the annual growth of CO2 emissions from China and India and the annual CO2 emissions output of major European economies.
This graph shows clearly that total European CO2 emissions from key European nations have often been entirely dwarfed by the incremental growth seen in China.
The growth of Chinese CO2 emissions in some years have often exceeded the German, UK and French CO2 emissions level.
It is also interesting to note that by 2014 the growth in CO2 emissions in India have currently overtaken those in China.
Cumulative CO2 emissions in the 50 years since 1965
The residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere is about 5 – 10 years. The CO2 burden for which man-kind can be responsible extra CO2 is absorbed by improving the growth of all plant life and is quickly resorbed by the oceans. This is a simplistic view, the whole question of the various Carbon cycles is well covered by Clive Best here:
The following graphs shown 5 and 10 year half-life calculations.
These graphs show that on both an 5 year and 10 year half-life basis Chinese CO2 emissions have already surpassed the USA. And that on a 5 year half-life basis the 160 nations of the underdeveloped world are approaching the cumulative emissions of the EU(28).
When the cumulative 5 years half-life CO2 emissions / head are plotted the significant decline in the USA arising from the growing use of fracked gas for electricity generation becomes clear.
The futility of Western de-carbonisation
Actions in the West in response to the Green agenda have increased risks to energy security, cost private energy users dearly and damaged the economics of all its manufacturing industries. Those industrial companies are bound to seek more congenial energy / business environments, with laxer attitudes towards CO2 emissions.
So the futility of the expenditure of vast resources on Green activities in Germany and throughout the Western world becomes clear. An estimate of the 60 year lifetime cost commitment of some €3.4 trillion that has already been committed for the installation of weather dependent Renewables in Europe is given at
According to Bjorn Lomborg the ~€125billion German investment in solar power alone, not including other renewable investments, could only ever reduce the onset of Global Warming by a matter of about 37 hours by the year 2100, if at all.
In addition in their recent paper the prestigious French Société de Calcul Mathématique SA have clearly said:
“The battle against global warming: an absurd, costly and pointless crusade”
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.