Paris Won’t Stop CO2 Emissions From Climbing
By Paul Homewood
Now we have most of the INDC’s (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions), ie climate plans, submitted in advance of Paris, we can make some reasonably accurate forecasts of what they will all mean for global CO2 emissions.
The first thing to note is that the plans all set targets in terms of all GHG, not just CO2. However, it is not possible to compare such targets with either current emissions or baseline years, as the UNFCC does not have consistent and complete stocktaking records for each country. For instance, the last figure available for India is from 2000.
This is one of the big differences in the way that the Annex 1 countries (developed) have been treated, as these are compelled to file annual data.
Therefore for this exercise I am only looking at CO2, and where necessary will assume this changes in line with all GHG.
Secondly, I am going to ignore LULUCF (Land Use, Land Use Change & Forestry), partly because the plans don’t always provide separate numbers for this, partly because it makes little overall difference for most countries, but mainly because its inclusion is regarded by many as controversial. There is a widespread belief that countries should not be allowed to ramp up industrial emissions, just because they can offset them against chopping down less trees.
Because some plans, notably China and India’s, only target against CO2 emissions per unit of GDP, forecasts of emissions in 2030 depend on how much economic growth is achieved. Therefore I have prepared two scenarios. The High Growth one assumes an annual rate of growth of 8% in China through to 2030, in line with the last few years, and Indian GDP in line with their govt projections.
The Low Growth one is probably more realistic. Chinese economic growth is in line with IMF predictions, at 6.6% per year to 2020, and 5.4% thereafter, while India’s is assumed to be 6%.
All of my calculations are sourced from the detailed work I have done previously, summarised here.
These are the results:-
- Annual global emissions will 46% higher in 2030 than in 2013
- While EU and US emissions drop by 1856 MtCO2, China’s increase by 10871, and India’s by 4895.
- Global emissions are 21% higher in 2030.
- Chinese emissions increase by 5104 MtCO2, 51% higher than in 2013.
- Indian emissions increase by 2540 MtCO2, 105% higher.
It is worth making the point that lower growth is not growth foregone, it is growth postponed. In other words, if India’s economy does not grow as fast as their economic plan calls for, efforts will be made to keep growing after 2030 to make up for it.
After all, can you imagine a newly elected Indian Prime Minister in 2030 telling his electorate, after a decade of low growth, “Sorry chaps, we cannot go for high growth now because some guy called Modi tied our hands fifteen years ago”.
In any event, none of the INDC’s for developing countries will be binding, and if growth is lower than projected, there is nothing to stop the current or future Indian govt from amending the plan and making the targets easier.
According to Kevin Anderson, of the Tyndall Centre, we can afford to put no more than another 860 GtCO2 into the atmosphere if we are to avoid the dreaded 2C of warming. Even on the low growth scenario this allowance will be used up in little more than 20 years. There is clearly no way that the world will be able to stop all emissions after 2035, so it looks like Kevin might as well give up now, and go and get a proper job!
My detailed forecasts are below:
All actual emissions data is from CDIAC