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Climate Hustle

Analysis: WRI data suggests emissions have already ‘peaked’ in 49 countries

Posted on 22 November 2017 by Zeke Hausfather

This is a re-post from Carbon Brief

To avoid dangerous levels of global warming, the international community has pledged to limit global temperature rise to less than 2C above pre-industrial levels.

This commitment requires rapid and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the next few decades from all of the world’s major emitters. To meet this target, global emissions would likely have to peak in the next few years and decline 50% by the year 2050, according to the latest United Nations analysis.

new report published by World Resources Institute (WRI), a US-based global environmental research group, now suggests that 49 countries have already seen their emissions peak, representing around 36% of current global emissions. Another 8 countries representing another 23% of emissions have commitments to peak in the next decade or so.

Turning points

Using WRI’s data, Carbon Brief has created the interactive chart below. It shows the countries whose emissions have peaked in each decade, with the size of the bubble representing the relative size of that country’s emissions. The line at the bottom shows the percent of current global emissions represented by the peaking countries.

When national emissions peaked

Determining when a country has peaked is not always straightforward. While emissions may be flat or decline for a few years, it is no guarantee that they may not tick back up in the future. In creating their list of countries that have peaked, WRI has looked both at the emission history of the country and its domestic policies and international commitments.

For example, while China’s energy-related CO2 emissions have declined slightly in both 2015 and 2016, it is too early to say whether emissions have actually peaked. China has committed to peak its emissions by 2030 and many experts expect it will happen before then, but the exact date is still unclear.

WRI’s analysis only considers countries with unconditional targets or pledges among those that have commitments to peak emissions in the future. Some countries have conditional targets that imply an emissions peak by 2030, such as Bhutan, Botswana, Ethiopia, Grenada and South Africa.

However, these commitments are only binding if international support is provided, which may not come to pass. So they are not included in the list of countries that have committed to peak by 2020 or 2030.

The interactive map below shows the GHG emissions peak date for different countries around the world, with countries in grey having no definite peak date or planned peak date. Clicking on a country on the map will show its emissions (in million tonnes CO2-equivalent) between 1990 and 2015, when available.

Greenhouse gas emission peak dates and country-level emissions. Click on individual countries to see their emissions over time. Peak dates based on the WRI Turning Points report. Country emissions from 1990-2015 based on date from PIK and UNFCCC. Chart by Carbon Brief using Highcharts.

In 1990, 19 countries had already peaked their emissions, according to WRI’s analysis. Many of these were part of the Soviet Union, whose breakup subsequently led to economic crisis and large changes in industrial activity that dramatically reduced emissions in many former Soviet countries. Germany’s emission reductions also benefitted from a restructuring of the economy in the former East Germany post-reunification.

By 2000, 33 countries had peaked emissions, including the UK, France, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Costa Rica’s emissions also peaked, making it the first country to do so outside of Europe and the former Soviet Union. These countries collectively represent 15% of total global GHG emissions.

By 2010, a number of additional countries in the Americas had seen their emissions peak, including the US, Canada, and Brazil. Australia and Micronesia also joined the group, as well as more European countries, such as Ireland, Austria, Portugal, Greece and Spain. In 2010, countries who had peaked their emissions represented a combined 36% of total global emissions.

By 2020, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea have committed to peak. And by 2030 (or potentially earlier) they will likely be joined by China (for CO2 emissions), Mexico and Singapore. By 2030, countries representing at least 60% of global emissions are committed to reach their respective peaks.

List of countries that peaked or have a commitment to peak and the percentage of global emissions covered, by decade. Table adapted from WRI Turning Points report. Note that unlike the table in the WRI report, the percent of global emissions in countries that peaked is shown relative to 2010 rather than to the decade in which the peak occurred.

Global emissions must peak soon

The news that 49 countries have already peaked their emissions is a sign that the world is moving away from a business-as-usual scenario where global average temperatures reach 4C or more above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century. Global CO2 emissions from energy were largely unchanged in 2016 relative to 2015, raising hopes that a global peak in emissions may be possible in the near future.

If countries stick to existing commitments to peak and reduce emissions, but undertake few additional reductions, global emissions would stay relatively flat through to 2100 and the world would warm around 3C. While this could help avert some of the worst impacts of high-end warming scenarios, it would still be far away from delivering the 2C goal embraced by the international community.

Carbon Brief reached out to researchers at Norway’s Center for International Climate Research (CICERO) to examine how the timing of a global emissions peak affects the required speed of future reductions. The figure below shows a number of different CO2 emission reduction curves that have a 66% chance to keep warming below 2C. It shows how the later global emissions start to decline, the more rapid the subsequent emission reduction needs to be.

 Emission reduction trajectories associated with a 66% chance of avoiding more than 2C warming by starting year. Solid black line shows historical emissions, while dashed black line shows emissions constant at 2016 levels. Data and chart design from Robbie Andrew at CICERO and the Global Carbon Project. Chart by Carbon Brief using Highcharts.

To have a good chance of avoiding 2C warming, global emissions need to peak some time in the next few years and decline very rapidly thereafter. If global emissions had peaked around the year 2000, it would have been possible to gradually reduce emissions by only 1-3% per year and still avoid 2C warming. In 2016, however, a sizable portion of the remaining carbon budget had already been used up.

If global emissions peak in 2017, they need to decline by 4-8% per year. If the world waits until 2025 to start reducing emissions, reductions would have to be a massive 8% or more per year.

It’s worth noting that these emission reduction scenarios do not include negative emissions, which involve removing CO2 from the atmosphere through options such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storageaforestation, and land management changes. These could potentially buy more time to avoid 2C warming (or to overshoot, then draw CO2 levels back down), but are largely untested at scale.

Conclusions

Countries representing around 36% of global emissions have already peaked. Others, including China, may peak their emissions in the near future. In total, 60% of current global emissions are in countries that have or will soon have emissions peak. This raises hopes that some of the worst potential warming scenarios might be avoided. However, it is only a first step toward the large reductions in global emissions needed to avoid 2C warming.

Global emissions will likely need to peak in the next few years if there is to be a reasonable chance for limiting global warming to 2C. Rapid emission reductions will be needed thereafter, with an increasingly assumed reliance on as-yet-untested negative emissions technologies the longer that the world delays.

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Comments

Comments 1 to 19:

  1. Australia's emissions achieved a peak in 2006, but have been rising rapidly from a low point in 2014 when the carbon pricing policy was abolished. It is highly likely Australia will exceed 2006 emission levels and keep increasing out to 2030, unless there is a major policy direction change. See March 2016 article: Greg Hunt's claim of 'peak emissions' attacked by climate experts 

    See also the Climate Council from March 2016 questioning whether Australia's emissions have peaked.

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  2. takver@1,

    The Australian Carbon Tax was implemented in 2012. Its ending in 2014 may have created a temporary surge of irresponsible behaviour. But something other than a "Carbon Tax Policy" was reducing emissions prior to 2012. Perhaps the possibility of a carbon tax being imposing was an influence. Things were also affected significantly by the 2008 global set-back due to irresponsible pursuers of Private Interest temporarily Winning until the inevitable collapse of their unsustainable and damaging pursuits.

    One of the factors regarding the bump up after 2014 may have been an expansion of activity in Autralia related to the development and operation of factlities for exporting fossil fuels for burning elsewhere. In addition to increasing coal exports (the same irresponsible behaviour the Trump Administration is trying to temporarily impress people with in the USA), Australia has been increasing natural gas exports.

    The Australian DoE document that Figure 9 was taken from for the Guardian Article (and that it incorrectly sub-labelled as 1990-2025) states the following related to Figure 9.

    "Projected 2029–30 emissions provide an indication of long-term emissions trends. Projected emissions growth to 2029–30 is dominated by electricity generation emissions, as electricity demand increases with growth in economic activity and coal-fired electricity generation retains a high share of total electricity generation. Emissions from direct combustion and fugitives also increase significantly, primarily as a consequence of the extraction of coal and natural gas in increasing volumes for export (Figure 9)."

    How coal exports will be doing in the future is an important consideration for the future emissions in Australia (note there are added emissions of that coal being burned elsewhere). China is clearly cutting back on coal burning. And the latest COP meeting included a significant group of nations becoming activists for the more rapid termination of the global burning of coal.

    And the infrastructure building for fossil fuel export may not continue far into the future since facilities can operate for 30 to 50 years. Facilities related to fossil fuel burning are likely to have a shorter future than that in developed nations (the nations that will be globally expected to lead the reduction of global fossil fuel burning). That shorter future makes the Return on Investment less encouraging for new infrastructure related to fossil fuel burning in the more fortunate nations.

    The global community may be a significant factor regarding what happens in Australia if Australia does not responsibly restrain its pursuits. It is highly likely that global trade tariffs will be introduced to 'encourage better behaviour from individuals in irresponsible nations that hope to win advantages by behaving less acceptably'. There is also the possibility of global limits or embargoes on the export of fossil fuels for burning, a more extreme step to deal with the worst offenders.

    That type of future global action is often ignored because it seldom happens to an activity that the most fortunate benefit from. But that type of global action is the history regarding dealing with individuals, and groups they gather around themselves, who try to get away with unacceptable behaviour (Private Interest behaviour that is clearly compromising the Global Public Interest in developing lasting improvements for all of humanity - The 2015 Sustainable Development Goals set out the actions that will make lasting impovements for the future of humanity as long as all the goals are achieved).

    So what happens in the future in Australia, and any other nation, can either be responsibly determined by Australian's or be externally 'corrected' by global interests in the future of humanity. That is where the future has been headed since the 1960s with a few unfortunate Dips temporarily Winning Influence along the way. Responsible Global Leadership Winning is actually the only way for humanity to have a future that is not dystopian.

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  3. Minor rephrasing in the 7th para. of my post @2

    'encourage better behaviour from individuals in nations trying to get away with behaving irresponsibly in the hopes of temporarily benefiting more by getting away with behaving less acceptably'

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  4. New Zealand has pledged that its emissions will peak by 2020?  Really?  Living in the country, I see business continuing as usual and no real sign of actions to limit our emissions.  We have a new government now that has pledged to take action on climate change.  Nevertheless, I'll believe it when I see it.

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  5. Digby Scorgie@4,

    At least you appear to be in a region with Leadership that  gets popular support for claiming to support actions to reduce carbon emissions and could win re-election if they meaningfully act to reduce fossil fuel burning.

    I live in Alberta, Canada. I would bet Alberta (along with similarly addicted to benefiting from the export of fossil fuels for burning - Saskatchewan) will be among the last places on the planet to get a combined significant popular support for action to reduce Carbon emissions and Leadership that wants that.

    Alberta's current Leaders claim to want action to reduce Carbon Emissions. But they have been careful to not say they want to wind-down the Oil Sands extraction and export quicker than the market-place would wrap it up (the provincial budget is massively dependent on revenue from fossil fuel export for burning).

    But they are only the current Leaders due to a freak event where 2 Conservative Parties were in the 5 Party chase for power. That allowed the strongest of the non-Conservative Parties to win many seats with less than majority support. (Unlike Australia, Canada still uses First-Past-the-Post Voting even though we have almost always had at least 3 major political parties).

    The current government in Alberta has implemented a Carbon Fee and partial Rebate program. A portion of the Carbon Fee is returned to people with moderate or lower income with the rebate likely exceeding the Carbon Fee those people would pay (Full rebate at $60,000 income reduced to Zero rebate at $90,000). And the rest of the Carbon Fee is used to try to diversify the Alberta economy away from actions related to the burning of fossil fuels.

    The Conservative Parties in Alberta recently United. And polls clearly show the popularity in Alberta of that United Party being higher than any other party, though still lower than 50%. In Alberta that level of support (less than 50%) has produced clear majority authority for a party. That is how the current non-Conservative Party won majority power in the last election.

    The leader of the United Conservatives has already made misleading marketing pitches criticizing the Carbon Fee program because the increase in the fees happens at the start of next year. They claim the Carbon Fee hurts the less fortunate (they never mention the rebate). And they claim the Fee is a 75% Tax on Natural Gas (they do not mention that natural gas only costs $2 per GJ and the Carbon Fee after the increase will be a fixed $1.50 per GJ meaning the 'tax rate' goes down as the price goes up).

    A few of the media in Alberta have tried to better inform Albertans when they report the claims made by the United Conservatives. But not all of the media are that responsible (many of the media are also misleading marketers - eager to lock in the more popular audience support that many advertisers look for).

    I am heartened by the fact that some media in Alberta are trying to better inform the population. But I doubt that enough proper efforts to better and more fully inform the population in Alberta will occur before the next election. I also doubt that even all of the major media trying to better inform the population in Alberta would make enough of a difference before the next election. Such action, pointing out the Fake Claims being made by the United Conservatives, would probably lead to massive amounts of loud popular support for claims of Fake News being produced.

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  6. OPOF @5

    Your account of Canada's climate policy is interesting.

    I live in New Zealand, and our history of emissions reductions has actually been very weak, but our new government elected this year is taking a stronger stand on emissions reduction, and I will get to that.

    Firstly, our history of attempts to reduce emissions and deal with global warming has been of limited success so far. Here is a brief summary of the sorry story, a comedy of errors and denial:

    The Labour (liberal / left leaning party) started things about 15 years ago by proposing a sensible carbon tax,  but was beaten in that election and the incoming National Party (conservative party) adopted an emissions trading scheme. This ETS has been an appalling joke of a scheme with limited strength, no actual cap, and huge reliance on imported carbon credits that turned out to be worthless, but still form part of the system in terms of value, despite this being acknowledged by the government. This ETS is still in force today.

    The ETS scheme is so complicated nobody understands it, and the media don't go near the thing, apart from Brian Fallow, but his comments are so technical only enthusiasts would bother. This ETS has proven useless, because our emissions have continued to grow, and the scheme excludes farming, our main source of emissions, because we are a big dairy producer. The ETS settings are not strong enough, and too much reliance is put on forestry sinks particularly buying credits in these from other countries that are proven to be of dubious value.

    But the ETS "sound impressive" like we are doing something, and the National Government has sold it with appropriate spin and exaggerated hype, and never been properly challenged by the media. I don't think its media political bias, more possibly just laziness and not enough news in a gray complex issue like this, but that is no excuse. We are a small country with just a few main media outlets, and no huge media bias, although the main newspaper did arguably start to favour National a little recently.

    Renewable energy has been more successful, but only by accident. We had good hydro and geothermal power making up over 50% of our electricity, going way back to the 1940's. We have added more geothermal power recently but this would have happened regardless of climate policies. We have added wind power which gets a small subsidy and is about 5% or so of our generation. More wind power is planned, but the global financial crash caused a drop in electricity demand, so we have surplus of generation at the moment.

    Currently approx. 80% of our electricity is hydro, geothermal and wind with the remainder gas and one coal station I think. DS will correct me if I'm wrong.

    Believe it or not we actually export oil, shamelessly as far as the climate issue goes. We are a very open  free market economy and both export and import oil (weird I know, but this is an open market economy). We also export coal, although less recently I think. So there are no limits on this in terms of climate policies, and the National government also allows deep sea oil exploration, again regardless of climate issue. They make a bizarre point of principle that the ETS should be only control on emitters, in a nonsensical application of ideological free market purity. Everyone else can work out you don't have to rely just on an ETS, and need a range of policies and the public have questioned the wisdom of drilling for more oil.

    Now we come to the year of 2017, when a Labour government has been elected (with a very pleasant and smart leader). More precisely we have a proportional representation system of MMP the same as Germany. The National Party got the highest popular vote, but had no real coalition partners this time, so the other three main parties Labour, NZ First and The Greens with less of the vote, formed a governing coalition. As you can imagine this complicates climate policies.

    The new Labour coalition elected this year has taken a stronger stand overall on climate issues, but precise policy is not clear yet and time will tell.

    Unfortunately they have decided one thing, to keep the ETS, but have proposed a rethink and may modify it, but who knows. More significantly they have proposed a carbon tax of some sort on agriculture in an attempt to reduce methane emissions. Time will tell if they implement this.

    The leader Adern has expressed a strong and genuine commitement to reducing emissions, however it appears the party has backtraked partly on some other strong economic policies out of fear of causing negative economic side effects so who knows what will happen over climate issues. I'm not yet decided whether Adern is sensible and prepared to listen and do sensible modifications, or easily lead and weak. Again its too early to say.

    We have no idea what Labour will do in terms of coal and oil exports. and given their commitment to free market this may not change. I think its likely they would stop offsore exploration as this is easy "low hanging fruit" and offshore potential appears limited anyway. I have no doubt they would support renewable electricity generation, as this is an easy thing to agree on.

    So in summary the new Labour government talks tough on climate change, but time will tell if it amounts to much and what real policies are. However it cant be worse than the outgoing National government.

    As you can see I'm not all that enthused about ETS schemes, and think a carbon fee and dividend is probably better. However both can be made to work if theres a will.

    Our political parties and lobby groups have also made some shameless claims about how various climate policies and so on will hurt the poor etc, usually in a very misleading way, but not quite as brazenly as Canada by the sound of it. The various schemes only get back page coverage in the media, and hardly even figured in the election campaign. The media seldom ask the hard questions of National ministers on their terrible ETS, apart from Brian Fallow alone. I suppose the media find it complicated, and frankly anyone would, but it still seems like laziness and poor journalism to me as its clearly an important issue.

    In general we have all the same media issues as you do in Canada, but possibly not quite as severely!

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  7. nigelj,

    Just to clarify. In Canada the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan are 'outliers' when it comes to political leaning and attitude towards reduction of burning of fossil fuels. Both of those provinces are heavily dependent on continuing to get away with benefiting from the burning of fossil fuels for electricity and export of fossil fuels for burning ... because they have large deposits of those non-renewable resources (Alberta more than Saskatchewan).

    Excluding the GHG generated by the burning of fossil fuels exported from Alberta, activity in the province of Alberta is the largest contribution to Canada's total emissions. This can be seen in the lastest Government of Canada report of GHG emissions (2015).

    And Alberta will have increased emissions since major expansions of Oil Sands extraction will be completed and start operations in the near future. These facilities can take nearly a decade to design and build. So they got started when the price of oil was alluringly high. Now that they are built their investors have 'sunk their costs in the facilities'. Those investors are desperate to maximize their revenue, and so is the Government of Alberta. They push for new pipelines to reduce the cost, increase the speed of exporting the stuff, and also in the hopes of attracting new investment to further expand the extraction for export.

    The popularity of getting away with getting wealthy from the global burning of fossil fuels is regionally massive. So massive that just about any Alberta Government has to be seen to be a Cheerleader for the unacceptable activity if they want to stand a chance to win power in the flawed multi-party First-Past-the-Post game. The current government leaders have implemented Carbon Legislation for Alberta that includes a modest Carbon Price. And they set a limit on the GHG emissions, but at a level that allows significant expansion of Oil Sands extraction (Alberta plan for Oil Sands GHG). And the United Conservatives have declared the 'Need' to eliminate all of the Carbon Plan without offering any Carbon Reduction action of their own.

    Thankfully, the Federal Government has legislated a minimum required action by any province. So the Conservatives winning power in Alberta will only be able to cut back the actions in Alberta to the Federal minimums. The United Conservatives in Alberta (and Conservatives in the rest of Canada), have already declared their dislike of the Federal Government that implemented such a diabolical restriction of 'Their Freedom to Believe and do as they please'.

    If the likes of the United Conservatives win Federal power it may be necessary for the global community to impose targeted penalties on Canadian activities (or specific Canadians) to motivate 'better behaviour' from the anti-Leaders. Since the power winners in multi-party First-Past-the-Post elections usually do not have true majority support, the majority of Canadians would likely support such external influence, just as the majority of Albertans would support Federal restrictions on a Conservative Provincial leadership.

    And the Conservatives should not be expected to change their minds. They will likely continue trying to Win any unacceptable way they can get away with. The future of humanity clearly needs that group to globally become nothing more than an irrelevant annoyance.

    Things are headed in that direction. And the rising anger of the United Right/Conservatives is probable proof that even they know their Winning is not sustainable. But since they only care about the benefit they can get away with in their lifetime there will always need external restrictions on what they can get away with - restrictions and penalties that they will always be angry about, never acknowledge their understanding of the importance of the restrictions because the importance is the Public Interest. And their Private Interest is to compromise the Public Interest as much as they can get away with.

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  8. OPOF,

    We used to have a FPP voting system, and frustratingly this system twice lead to a party with less popular vote than the other main party being elected on the basis of electorate results. This is just so unacceptable to me personally.

    One of these governments turned out to be a genuine disaster, and this motivated a change to mixed member proportional representation about 1994, and we still have this. It has been good on the whole, imho, and has delivered coalitions of both centre left leaning governments and centre right governments, both of which have been reasonably decent  governments on the whole, no huge disasters of policy, although some issues not adressed well enough. (I want to avoid polarising political evaluation of which I personally prefer etc). Two of these governments had stability issues due to one of the smaller parties, but FPP also had stability issues of its own kind.

    But the point is if we can change our voting system anyone can, and the majority don’t want to go back to FPP. This speaks volumes. Although I would suggest STV proportional representation system may be best, (if hard to get ones head around,) as it avoids some of the issues of mmp.

    People are addicted to oil in various ways on various levels. Take the drug away, and you get anger, tantrums, and an endless stream of excuses and sceptical nonsense just like any drug.

    Coming back to MMP it seems to have lead to a consensus on having climate policy and this appears to be an inevitable result of MMP style of system. Nobody would dare dump policy completely because they would be punished electorally where with FPP winner take all system it appeared easier to get away with this sort of thing.

    What is more troublesome is manipulation of ETS by the last centre right government and weakening of it, but this may be partly because an ETS is susceptible to this manipulation,  as Europe has found if you read about their system.

    Anyway people who ruthlessly abuse or exploit the "commons" or business activities to their own benefit to cause damage to the community well being, and planetary resources and systems, have to be subjected to boundaries, that is for sure.

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  9. OPOF @ 7

    "And the Conservatives should not be expected to change their minds. They will likely continue trying to Win any unacceptable way they can get away with. The future of humanity clearly needs that group to globally become nothing more than an irrelevant annoyance."

    Don't hold your breath.  I think that anyone thinking that the Conservatives of Alberta or the Republicans in the US will just "fade away" have to examine their powers of analysis to be polite.  I think that the NDP government in Alberta (referred to your in your blog as the "non-Conservative" party) when it unexpectedly found itself in power had to face political reality and come up with some rational proposals.  For those who are not familiar with Canadian politics, the NDP is the most left wind party in Canada.  I personally think they have done a good job of balancing political realities with a climate policy.   It is amazing what happens when you are suddenly faced with political power rather than arguing from the opposition. 

    I personally think that FPP is the best system compared to proportional representation.  Look what is happening in Germany at the present time.  Or consider Italy or Israel or ......  I have always thought that the US system was a disaster because of its "checks and balances".  I would much prefer 4 or 5 year "dictatorships" who have to know they will be booted out if they do not behave.  But we really should not be discussing political systems on this website. 

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  10. NorrisM @10 , certainly 810 billion tonnes of CO2 is a formidable amount to "remove".

    All the more reason, to minimize the problem in the first place, by rapid conversion of the world energy economy to "renewable" energy.

    It may well be that future citizens [of late 21st Century] will stridently demand that their politicians take action to get the carbon back in the ground.   Will the technology exist in 60 years' time, to do so?   As well as the renewable-sourced electricity to reduce the 810 bn tonnes you mentioned, into black sooty carbon [ = 220 bn tonnes of soot ] ??

    On my back-of-envelope arithmetic, 220 bn tonnes of carbon would equate to about a 10mm thick layer of (granular) soot covering the world's 1700 million hectares of arable farmland.  Maybe not all that difficult to churn that underground during routine seasonal ploughing.  Good for the soil, too.  Though I don't know what the carbon degradation rate would be.

    On another thread, contributor Red Baron discussed the alternative approach of biological [fungal] fixation of carbon into pasture/ range-land.

    Then again, some 200 custom-built supertankers could carry that 220 bn tonnes of granular carbon and, during 25 years . . . dump it somewhere off the continental shelf, where no voters exist!

    Still, NorrisM — an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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  11. My apologies, Moderators.  My post above was a reply to a post of NorrisM's which has been "disappeared".  Please delete, too.

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  12. NorrisM@10,

    To begin, I did not say the Conservatives 'will choose to fade away'. What I said, and meant, was that unless the Conservatives become a less significant factor in Global Leadership there is no real hope of make lasting improvements for the future of humanity.

    And I should have said the 'Collective of current day Unite the Right groups who claim to be Conservative' (rather than using the term Conservative), need to become irrelevant.

    The Global Public Interest is advancing humanity through the development of 'lasting' improvements for a robust diversity of humanity, the future of humanity. And all sub-sets of humanity need to govern their regional or tribal behaviour in line with achieving that Public Interest, ensuring their regional or tribal Private Interests do not compromise the Global Pubic Interest.

    Unite the Right groups can clearly be seen to be collections of a diversity of Private Interests that are contrary to the Public Interest. As that awarenss and understanding grows fewer people will be willing to stay in that United group that votes to support each other's understandably unaccepable interests.

    It is inevitable that the Unite the Right groups will see reduced popularity. The extremists among that group like ISIS and Team Trump are making it more difficult for people to excuse what is understandably the pursuit of unacceptable and ultimately unsustainable regional or tribal Private Interests that compromise the Public Interest of the future of humanity.

    As I mentioned in my earlier comment, Alberta is likely one of the last places on the planet where the Unite the Right will fade away. But the United Right in Alberta have less than 50% popularity. That shows that even in a very Religious part of Canada with so much easy money to be made if they can get away with behaving less acceptably, the collective of Religious Fundamentalists, Callous Greedy and those who Tribally just vote 'Conservative' because that is what they always did are less than 50% of the population.

    As for voting, I think that Ranked Transferable votes are the Right way to vote in multi-party systems to ensure the First Past 50% support is the Winner. The United Right who call themselves Conservative are unlikely to be anyones 2nd choice. When they won Minority Power at the Federal level in Canada in 2006 they could not Lead because they were so different form all te other parties, except the Quebec Seperatist Party. They called for new elections several times until the flawed FPP system gave them the narrow win of Majority rule. They lost in the next election.

    As for the realities of public opinions created by massive misleading marketing campaigns favoring the compromise of Public Interests for Private Interests in Alberta, I understand that changing the public understanding is the political challenge faced by any responsible Government in Alberta (maximizing the misunderstanding in the population is the objective of Unite the Right types especially when they Win Government Leadrship. The Unite the Right Leadership in Saskatchewan that has walked away from the job because the unsustainable delusions they created were recently shattered is proof of that.

    A ranked ballot vote would reduce the chances of the United Right winning unfettered power in Alberta (or anywhere else). What are your thoughts regarding a Ranked Transferable Ballot?

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  13. Moderator

    As Eclectic has noted, my question relating to the recent lead article in the November 18, 2017 of the Economist has been "disappeared" but without any explanation for why this was done.  I thought perhaps it should be posted on the "Models are Unreliable" thread but it did seem relevant to this thread as well in that the levelling of emissions is not enough according to the Economist.  We have to pull massive amounts of carbon out of the air to meet most of the model's projections.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Another Moderator deleted your comment because it was "off topic."

    Andy Skuce produced a three-part series on the issues of your concen in the Fall/Winter of 2015.  

    The Road to Two Degrees, Part One: Feasible Emissions Pathways

    The Road to Two Degrees, Part Two: Are the experts being candid about our chances?

    The Road to Two Degrees, Part Three: Equity, inertia and fairly sharing the remaining carbon budget

    Please read this set of articles and post your comment on one of them. 

    For more recents article on this topic, see:

    Who will deliver the negative emissions needed to avoid 2C warming?, Guest Post by Glen Peters & Oliver Geden, Carbon Brief, Oct 30, 2017

    Can Carbon-Dioxide Removal Save the World? by Elizabeth Kolbert, Annals of Science, The New Yorker, Nov 20, 2017 Print Edition

  14. Norrism:

    Your comment was deleted for being off topic on this thread (I am not a moderator).

    I suggest you repost your question on the Weekly news roundup where it will be more on topic.  I imagine that John  Hartz did not see the post in the Economist, it is difficult to read everything.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] See my Moderator's comment on NorrisM's post.]

  15. Voting systems are actually extremely relevant to the climate issue. FPP makes it very challenging for small parties, like Green Parties and other environemtally driven parties to become part of any government. Proportional representation is more inclusive of Green parties, and wider minority parties generally. I have seen this in my country first hand where small parties have been in government, or had confidence and supply agreements. Just the possibility they could be in government might influence policy of other parties.

    The problem with MMP is it can give minority parties a disproportionate influence, where the tail wags the dog. This can lead to instability. STV (single transferable vote) proportional representation overcomes this problem and may be the best system overall.

    Approx 80 countries have some form of proportional representation as below. Many have proportional party list.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proportional_representation

    I dont think you can lightly dismiss the decision of 80 countries, especially wealthy european countries, some with good climate policies. FPP might have the virtue of it being easier and more clear cut in forming a government, but the results in terms of quality of government often aren't compelling.

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  16. Looking at the dates when national emissions peak, as in this article, could give an over-optimistic impression of how far and fast the world is advancing in tackling climate change.

    Surely it's also necessary to consider the reasons why certain countries' emissions have peaked relatively early. For a number of developed countries like the UK, the relatively early peak to some extent reflects a decline in home-grown manufacturing industry; replaced by a greater reliance on imports of manufactured goods from countries like China.

    The rise of the globalised economy and goods being transported for long distances also raises other questions. Where are emissions from planes and ships being accounted for when considering whether or not a particular country's emissions have peaked? And what about emissions connected to rapidly increasing internet activity, for maintaining server farms, and call centres, etc?

    A few major players like China and India are responsible for an increasing share of global manufacturing (and arguably too of data processing and the internet-based service economy). How much reliance can be placed on their good intentions to reduce emissions by xx date - while simultaneously increasing their share of global business activity - ?

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  17. Peter Wilde@16

    The impression of how many countries have reached emissions peak might indeed be over optimistic in some cases, but not all cases, or that widely. In Russia it was driven by politics of the breakup of the Soviet Union and later economic recessions, and with no real sign of a genuine commitment to reduce emissions.

    However offshoring of manufacturing in Britain to China is only part of the reason for emissions reductions. It's well known Britain have a well developed renewable electricity sector which would be a big contributor to lower emissions.

    Surely emissions from planes are accounted for in country of origin? I dont see why it would be ambiguous or otherwise.

    China's share of manufacturing has increased over the last 30 years, but this process is nearing saturation according to the economist.com. China has some manufacturing migrating back to America and very low cost centres like Vietnam and Bangaldesh. This is because of wage rises in China.  Theres's also a government push to expand the services sector rather than just manufacturing. Manufacturing debt servicing is also right at the upper limits. Chinas building boom of high rise apartments is also nearing saturation level, so its use of cement may decrease to some extent. So if you consider all that, it is feasible that China can reduce emissions.

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  18. nigelj,

    An organization calling itself the GHG Management Institute has published an article about International Travel and Climate Change. The article explains why international air travel is excluded from a nation's GHG accounting. It explains that it was agreed that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) would be responsible for GHG abatement actions on international travel (International cargo GHG is also not accounted for by nations, and neither is the GHG emissions of a nation's military activity outside of their nation).

    An interesting point is how difficult it has been for the ICAO to make meaningful progress. My suspicion is that they lack the authority to direct what will be done by aircraft manufacturer's because those are 'National and Business Organization Interests'. And they lack the authority to direct what will be done by International Carriers because they are also 'National and Business Organization Interests'. And as an association of Private Interest organizations, part of their mandate is maximizing the success of their members, protecting their Private Interests.

    Asking the ICAO to impose profitability challenges on their members (the actions required to responsibly address the climate change challenge), appears to be similar to asking the International Energy Agency (IEA) to effectively manage the rapid termination of global burning of fossil fuels.

    The real problem continues to be the power of inappropriately developed Private Interests to interfere with efforts to curtail understandably harmful and ultimately unsustainable activity. And the real problem related to that problem is the ability of powerful people to abuse the understanding of marketing message creation and delivery to improperly influence the education of the population.

    Which leads to John Stuart Mill's warning in "On Liberty" that I share so often (because it keeps coming up as the best fundamental explanation of so many problems/challenges relating to developing lasting improvements for all of humanity).

    “If society lets a considerable number of its members grow up mere children, incapable of being acted on by rational consideration of distant motives, society has itself to blame for the consequences.”

    And a related quote that keeps coming up as the best explanation of what is going on is from the UN Commissioned Report "Our Common Future" published in 1987.

    "25. Many present efforts to guard and maintain human progress, to meet human needs, and to realize human ambitions are simply unsustainable - in both the rich and poor nations. They draw too heavily, too quickly, on already overdrawn environmental resource accounts to be affordable far into the future without bankrupting those accounts. They may show profit on the balance sheets of our generation, but our children will inherit the losses. We borrow environmental capital from future generations with no intention or prospect of repaying. They may damn us for our spendthrift ways, but they can never collect on our debt to them. We act as we do because we can get away with it: future generations do not vote; they have no political or financial power; they cannot challenge our decisions.
    26. But the results of the present profligacy are rapidly closing the options for future generations. Most of today's decision makers will be dead before the planet feels; the heavier effects of acid precipitation, global warming, ozone depletion, or widespread desertification and species loss. Most of the young voters of today will still be alive. In the Commission's hearings it was the young, those who have the most to lose, who were the harshest critics of the planet's present management."

    And those identified fundamental problems have led to the development of a Global set of Sustainable Development Goals that can be used to measure the worthiness of any leader of humanity (in Business and Politics). Those goals include climate action. And it is clear that all of the SDGs need to be achieved for humanity to have a decent future.

    The missing link is the global ability to effectively limit the influence of undeserving Winners of Pursuit of Private Interest and keep other undeserving people from becoming temporary damaging Winners. And that missing link will not be easily developed as long as there remains a powerful belief/dogma that Good Results will develop if people, groups or nations are freer to believe and do whatever they can get away with that suits Their Interest.

    Better education of the entire global population will be best developed when Private Interests that want to compromise the Global Public Interest have no significant influence on the leadership or education of any sub-set of the population. As long as sub-sets are freer to believe whatever they want and try to get away with doing what suits their Private Interest there will be damaging developments and conflict.

    The continued development of climate science awareness and understanding has unintentionally, but very powerfully, exposed the unacceptability of what has been developed by competitions of Private Interests for popularity and profit, and the social and economic leadership changes that are needed for the Global Public Interest of humanity to have a lasting constantly improving future, not being compromised by Private Interests pursuing better personal presents at the expense of others.

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  19. OPOF, yes business interests / organisations are unlikely to do much on own initiative to reduce airplane emissions. The fox is not going to guard the henhouse.

    There's quite a good critique of the ICAO plan here. and it covers a wide range of aspects.  Although at the end of the day reducing aircraft emissions is hard, and we may be stuck with some form of carbon offsets. 

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