To demonstrate the Futility of Western thinking in unilaterally trying to reduce its Man-made CO2 emissions, this post follows the thinking of the late Professor Sir David Mackay, using “some simple speculative back of the envelope calculations”.
This post makes estimates of the probable future growth in global CO2 emissions to put the efforts at CO2 emissions reduction in the Western World into the perspective of the inevitable growth of Global CO2 emissions in the future.
This point was amply made by Berkley Professor Richard Muller in 2010. His graph below and anticipates rather faster CO2 emissions growth from the developing world, than either of the scenarios here. It shows the extent that the Underdeveloped world is set to wholly overwhelm any efforts in the West to reduce Global CO2 emissions and thus attempt to influence Global temperature.
As Professor Richard Lindzen said at a UK parliamentary hearing in 2014:
“Whatever the UK decides to do will have no impact on your climate, but will have a profound impact on your economy. You are trying to solve a problem that may not be a problem by taking actions that you know will hurt your economy.”
Two future scenarios are considered but with no timescales are defined. They simply set the range of outcomes:
- Firstly: the Underdeveloped world, (~160 Nations) and India presently at a level of ~1.7 tonnes/head/annum attain the COVID reduced 2020 Global average level of CO2 emissions/head/annum: 4.14 tonnes/head/annum
- Secondly: the Underdeveloped world and India eventually approach the present level of CO2 emissions/head in China: ~6 tonnes/head/annum.
These values give a reasonable range of estimates and show how the inevitable CO2 emissions growth in the Developing World would entirely negate and swamp any CO2 reductions made by Western nations, however draconian, in the name of controlling Global climate.
Starting point from 2020 with the COVID effect
BP releases its review of World Energy every year and their most recent CO2 emissions data was released for the end of 2020. This data takes into account the COVID effect during 2020. However the COVID effect has meant that in 2020 overall:
- the Global Man-made CO2 emissions fell by 1,885 million tonnes to 32,284 million tonnes per annum, (~6%), with CO2 emissions / head reduced from 4.43 tonnes to 4.14 tonnes on average.
- the Developed world reduced its Man-made CO2 emissions by ~1,400 million tonnes per annum, (~11%), with CO2 emissions / head reduced from 10.56 tonnes to 9.35 tonnes on average.
- the Developing world only reduced its Man-made CO2 emissions by ~450 million tonnes per annum, (~2%), with CO2 emissions / head reduced from 3.30 tonnes to 3.19 tonnes on average.
This data set is used as the foundation of the following speculative calculations.
This post uses the current 2020 CO2 emissions status as provided in current BP (British Petroleum) dataset, accounting in part for the COVID effect. The comprehensive BP data is reclassified into major Nation groups as shown below:
The 2020 progress of CO2 emissions shown as current tonnes/ head according to the BP data is set out below.
An equivalent 2019 assessment undertaken before the COVID epidemic impacted on world economic activity and thus Western CO2 emissions is shown below
Further CO2 emissions growth
In spite of the 2016 Paris Climate accord and all other International CO2 reduction efforts, the Underdeveloped and Developing Nations have no significant limitation of their CO2 emissions for the foreseeable future.
The BP data reports the total 2020 Man-made CO2 emissions as ~32,300 million tonnes/annum.
Two simple speculative scenarios for Global development are modelled:
- Firstly: the Underdeveloped world and India presently at a level of ~1.7 tonnes/head/annum attain the Global average level of CO2 emissions/head/annum of 2020: 4.14 tonnes/head/annum. This results in Global CO2 emissions growing by an extra 20,000 million tonnes/annum to reach ~52,000 million tonnes/annum. At 4.14 tonnes/head/annum this current Global average level is already higher than CO2 emissions/head/annum of France with its ~80%+ commitment to Nuclear energy for power generation.
- Secondly: the Underdeveloped world and India eventually approach the level of CO2 emissions/head current in China: ~6.00 tonnes/head/annum. This would result in Global CO2 emissions growing by ~32,000 million tonnes/annum to reach ~64,000 million tonnes/annum. China maintains its level of CO2 emissions/head at 6.93 tonnes/head and grows it population by ~15%. The Chinese emissions level/head is already higher, (+28%), than the 2020 average level of CO2 emissions/head/annum in the EU(28) at 5.40 tonnes/head, (post COVID).
It can be anticipated that Western CO2 emissions will recover as the economic damage induced by the COVID epidemic recedes in the coming few years, but some part of the Western economic damage and thus Western CO2 emissions reduction is likely to persist.
Western agencies, such as the UN and IMF, are trying to hold back investment for effective power generation in the Underdeveloped World, (about 54% of the Global population), on the grounds of controlling Man-made Climate Change.
On the other hand, the Chinese “Belt and Road Programme” is working in exactly the opposite direction. China is promoting Coal-fired power and the installation of electrical grids throughout the Underdeveloped World. The likely future outcomes in terms of CO2 emissions of this Chinese policy may well be indicated by these speculative estimates.
The improvements in lifestyle for the Underdeveloped world will progressively reduce the pressure for further population growth in those Nations. The concomitant beneficial outcome for China is the eventual technical and financial colonisation of much of the Underdeveloped World.
The USA on the other hand with the COVID effect has already achieved substantial CO2 emissions reduction, about -32% ~1,500 million tonnes/annum since 2000 by the use of Fracked Gas rather than Coal for electricity generation. This technical shift has already resulted a far greater CO2 emissions reduction than could have been achieved by either the Kyoto Protocol or the Paris Climate Accord. The USA’s continuing replacement of Coal-firing by relatively inexpensive Fracked gas for electricity generation is assumed to effect a further 15% reduction in USA CO2 emissions.
The only Nations making any real, proactive efforts to reduce their CO2 emissions are in Europe, Australia and Canada. And more recently possibly under the Biden administration the USA. The aspiration to get to “Net Zero CO2 emissions” cannot be achieved without the destruction Western economies and the total loss of wellbeing in Europe and the West. It should also be noted that the reduction of CO2 emissions/head/annum down to ~5.4 tonnes/head in the UK was largely attributable to the earlier UK “dash for Gas” policy, whereas the German “die Energiewende” policy and even with its massive commitment to Weather Dependent Renewables has not resulted in an equivalent CO2 emissions reduction, save for the COVID effect.
Rather than achieving “Net Zero emissions”, more realistically, these estimates assume that Europe as a whole might reduce its CO2 emissions by a further 20%, but this could only amount to a reduction ~550,000,000 tonnes/annum. Nonetheless even this level of CO2 emissions reduction would still result in massive self-harm to European economies. This comparatively minor EU(28) CO2 emissions reduction of ~550,000,000 tonnes/annum should be set in the context of the inevitable CO2 emissions growth anticipated here initially of 20,000 million tonnes/annum and possibly later up to 32,000 million tonnes/annum.
The proportional percentage breakdown of these CO2 emissions growth scenarios is shown below.
An estimation of Global Population Growth
This speculative estimates assume that the bulk of population growth will arise in the Underdeveloped world, Rest of World (~160 Nations), growing by 30% and with India and the rapidly Developing Nations growing by ~20%. This population growth can only be curbed by increasing development and urbanisation of the Underdeveloped world. It is assumed that population growth in China will be more limited to about 15%.
The developed world would see only marginal population growth, with 5% growth in the USA and other Developed Nations, (JP CIS CA AU) and with virtually nil population growth in the EU(28).
The result is that Global population is likely to exceed ~9 billion by 2100, of which the EU(28) share will reduce to from 6.7% to 5.7% of Global population. According to current UN predictions this Global population outcome by 2100 is a low estimate. The range of CO2 emissions increase will increase as the population of the underdeveloped world grows further.
The environmental context for concerns about atmospheric CO2
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 the last 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 to it’s eventual end.
- so, the World will very soon, (on a geological time scale), revert to a true glaciation, eventually again resulting in mile high ice sheets over New York.
- in colder times the weather gets worse because of the increased energy differential between the poles and the tropics.
- in colder time Man-kind’s survival will become more difficult.
- plant productivity is hampered in colder weather: any cooling can immediately lead to agricultural losses, as has already been seen in the last two growing seasons, 2020-2021, at the present Solar minimum.
- however, it should now be realised that even a doubling of the level of atmospheric CO2 whether from natural or man-made sources can now only affect global temperature very marginally.
But, the prospect of even moving in a cooling direction is something to be truly concerned about both for the biosphere and for the survival of man-kind.
The current, 2020 EU(28) CO2 emissions are 2,770,million tonnes/annum or 8.6% of current Global CO2 emissions. In the event of these two scenarios this EU(28) proportion of Global CO2 emissions will reduce to between 4.9% – 3.6%. A reduction of only 2,770 million tonnes/annum could be achieved by meeting the impossible target of Net Zero emissions in the EU(28). Net Zero emissions achieved in the UK alone could only result in a CO2 reduction of ~319,000,000 tonnes/annum, or less than 0.5% of the likely future CO2 emissions total.
However as soon as the Underdeveloped world gets access to centralised power that potentially viable 20% reduction for the EU(28) at 550 million tonnes/annum would be entirely swamped by the inevitable additional CO2 emissions elsewhere in the World.
The likely CO2 emissions increases ranging from 20,000 – 32,000 million tonnes/annum and puts the possible 20% reduction by the entire EU(28) of ~55 million tonnes into its true context. And as UK CO2 emissions are roughly 10% of the EU(28) total CO2 emissions, makes any efforts in CO2 emissions reduction in the UK even less significant.
From past experience neither significant CO2 emissions reductions nor massive excessive annual production seem to have made any perceptible reaction or forced inflexion to the Mauna Loa Keeling curve over the past 55 years.
The unchanging progress of the Mauna Loa Keeling curve implies that all concerns over the control of Man-made CO2 emissions particularly from the Western world are unwarranted and unjustifiable.
In the context of the inevitable and massive future expansion of CO2 emissions from the Underdeveloped world, any CO2 reduction efforts in the West, the EU(28) or just in the UK alone would simply be acts of massive economic self-harm and clearly futile. Even doubling Man-made CO2 emissions, (from the developing world), as anticipated by these scenarios is unlikely to cause any significant perturbation of the Keeling curve.
The irrelevance of further Man-made CO2 emissions towards modifying Global temperature is demonstrated in the following post:
An excellent way to undermine Western economies is to render their power generation unreliable and expensive. That objective of Green thinking is progressively being achieved by Government policy but without popular voter mandate throughout the Western world.
So, spending any effort, for solely emotional and in the quasi-religious belief in the evil of Western Man-made CO2 emissions:
- without full due diligence
- without true cost benefit analysis
- without detailed engineering consideration for any proposed technical solutions,
let alone at GDP scale costs, trying to stop the UK’s 1.0% or the EU’s 8.6% of something that has not been happening for 3 millennia has to be monumentally ill-considered and ill-advised.
Unsurprisingly, Russia, China and India are mocking the way Western governments have been induced by their “Green thinking and Virtue Signalling” to promote their policies of abject self-harm at great National cost and to no perceptible benefit. This is amply supported by Western “useful idiots”, (Lenin’s term).
The “Green” movement has already succeeded in eliminating Fracking throughout Europe and Germany now has a dependency on Russian Gas exports via the Nordstream pipelines, which can be cut off any time at Russia’s whim.
The Developing and Eastern worlds are certainly not going to be meekly following the deranged example of the “virtue signalling” West.