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Paris Will Make Little Difference To Emissions

November 30, 2015

By Paul Homewood


One thing I think we can expect from Paris is that a lot of claims will be made about how the various INDC’s submitted will have a very real impact on emissions. This will be necessary for western leaders to persuade their electorates to continue down the decarbonisation track.

Developing countries will, of course, support the narrative in order to get their hands on the money pot without actually having to do anything.

Kevin Marshall over at ManicBeancounter picks up on Christina Figueres’ statement to the BBC last month:


The INDCs have the capability of limiting the forecast temperature rise to around 2.7C by 2100, by no means enough but a lot lower than the estimated four, five, or more degrees of warming projected by many prior to the INDCs.

The impression is given that we are nearly there, and only have to do a bit more to achieve the 2C target. Kevin shows this to be essentially nonsense in a detailed post here, and offers this summary:


The analysis by the UNFCCC shows that the policy proposals contained within the INDCs will make very little difference to trends in global emissions of greenhouse gases to 2030. In the accompanying literature, the UNFCCC makes no projections of the difference the INDCs will make beyond 2030. The claim that policy will limit forecast temperature rise to the 2.7C by 2100 is claimed by two other organisations, and is only referenced in a table at the very end of a separate technical annex without any discussion or endorsement. One of these, the IEA, achieves the projection by, post 2050, replacing forecasts contingent on the policy impact of the INDCs with an average of modelled RCP emissions pathways. The RCP website explicitly states that they are not forecasts of potential emissions or climate change, whether with or without policy action. It also states that any of the differences between the pathways be directly attributed to policy differences. The IEA thus replaces real emissions forecasts with data that is unrelated to the real world. The other claim, by Climate Action Tracker, has no explicit statement of how the increasing global emissions through to 2030 start tracking downwards post 2030. Contributing factors may include understating the emissions impact of India and China, along with excluding the likely increasing emissions in the coming decades from the poorest nations.

The claim that any agreement reached in Paris based on the INDCs will constrain to global average temperature rise to 2.7C by 2100 through constraining GHG emissions is therefore unsupported by any rigorous forecast of the policy impact in the referenced documents. Such forecasts are based on making a forecast without policy, then modelling the impact policy will make, stating the assumptions. With 40,000 people attending a conference, the UNFCCC could surely have set aside a couple of million dollars to obtain such a forecast from genuine experts.


Kevin also shows this graph of emissions from the UNFCCC, which makes clear the emissions pathway that lies ahead. (The chart is clearer on the link).




The orange pathway is the estimate of what will happen without the INDCs, and the yellow box shows the range with the INDC pledges. The emission savings from the INDCs is of the order of about 2 GtCO2e/yr.

So where does Figueres get her projections from? Quite simply by assuming mammoth emission cuts after 2030. Other than the EU, there is little in any of the INDCs that commits any countries to making cuts in emissions after 2030, and certainly not of any real significance. Most simply waffle on about the need to “do something”.

And, of course, the whole purpose of the INDCs was to make a start by getting countries looking at the immediate period up to 2030, rather than some distant, nebulous future.


There is an almost childlike naivety which assumes the rest of the world is going to step off the cliff in 2031, and rapidly cut emissions. Does anybody seriously expect the Chinese to suddenly shut down all of the coal power stations they are still busy building? Or that India will happily give up all of the benefits brought by economic growth in the next 15 years?

Even if economic growth in China, India and other developing countries is as great as planned, and history tells us that such plans always usually grossly optimistic, standards of living there will still be very low. What government is going to tell its people in 2030, “Sorry chaps, we’re not allowed any more growth because some wally made a pledge 15 years ago”?

And even if some miraculous technology comes along, nobody is going to chuck out existing technology overnight.

As for the third world, their journey to a better future has only just begun.

On top of all this, it is a cert that global population will be much higher in 20 or 30 years time. This alone will put upward pressure on emissions.


The reality is that whatever is agreed at Paris, it will have a negligible effect on emissions between now and 2030.

  1. November 30, 2015 2:37 pm

    The DT’s International Business Edito,r Ambrose Evans Pritchard’s article in the business section of today’s DT is worthy of Enid Blyton. Apparently, according to Mr E_P, all the developing nations are rushing to decarbonise and Paris will be a defining point in the history of global warming! Just where does he get it all from?

  2. November 30, 2015 2:45 pm

    Right now the Indians on NDTV are the only ones questioning their INDC, whether or not it is achievable. Shame on the BBC and its fellow travelers for totally failing to do this.

  3. NeilC permalink
    November 30, 2015 3:15 pm

    Shouldn’t we start a campaign to make sure all the people spouting AGW nonsense should stop using electricty generated by, and all things manufactured from fossil fuels, immediately, to save the planet.

    Just think of the peace that would ensue without the BBC, Grauniad, most of academia, many politicians and the like…. Heaven.

  4. Scott Mc permalink
    November 30, 2015 3:18 pm

    Yes but it will make a big difference to the money, and in some ways its good because there is the need to ask for more money and more money and more.

    India is in a bind, they want to build coal plants so they may need to do a small German copy, stick up some solar panels(a better latitude) and then build the coal to back up the solar. Talk is cheap, so maybe 1 solar panel for each coal plant might get them a few years..

  5. sonja Christiansen permalink
    November 30, 2015 3:22 pm

    all this may not be about emissions at all, but about money transfers and making decarbonisation (and the selling of related technologies) respectable for the private investor and related government support. I can think of many reasons why this may be desirable for the ‘developed’ capital exporting North without at all relating to climate. Climate change is an interesting and by now credible excuse for all sorts oft ambitions that need to be analysed and then judged. Humanity is well known for being misled by ideology, this time it is green rather that red or brown. Any difference?

  6. Retired Dave permalink
    November 30, 2015 4:41 pm

    An excellent piece of work by Kevin Marshall but it misses the point for me – Christiana Figueres does not need her pronouncements to make sense at all, they are just words because her real purpose was stated here –

    “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,”

  7. November 30, 2015 4:44 pm

    Christina Figueres may have said 2.7c but I have heard, 2.8c, 2.9c and even 3.0c mentioned recently. No doubt as a result of rounding.
    And of course, some are still saying 4.0c plus, ignoring Christina Figueres altogether.

    • A C Osborn permalink
      November 30, 2015 5:13 pm

      I am sure that the BBC repeated a claim of 5c rise in SEA Temps this morning, can you imagine the Energy required to achieve that?

  8. November 30, 2015 5:47 pm

    The whole conference is a huge waste of tax payers money from around the globe. The actions taken will be an even greater waste and will cause unnecessary suffering of the masses who cannot afford more expensive energy. In fact, this is already happening in many developed nations caught up in the Mann-made “climate change” craze and will soon get worse unless more people come to their senses.

    Considering strong scientific evidence that CO2 has little or no effect on global temperature but does have very beneficial effects on plant growth, I see all the more reason to increase CO2 emissions, not decrease them. Too bad these misguided aspiring well-doers don’t realize the huge and likely disastrous folly of their ways.

    • NeilC permalink
      November 30, 2015 6:21 pm


  9. November 30, 2015 7:14 pm

    I read this morning that a letter signed by 50 technology billionaires led by Bill Gates proposing technological solutions to climate change would be presented to the conference. Skipping daintily around the obvious conflict of interest issues, and the fact that Gates, a failed computer programmer (Microsoft outsource all their development work and have since MS DOS was launched – because Gates and his BASIC script kiddies could not put together a functioning system,) has become the world’s greatest authority on climate change, vaccines and all things scientific, I can’t help wondering how much money Gates and Co are hoping to make from their technological solutions. Gates is on record as saying only carbon taxes can save the planet. A pretty obvious statement of intent really.

  10. AndyG55 permalink
    November 30, 2015 8:27 pm

    The amount of CO2 emitted getting to and from this little gathering will more than cancel any “gain” (lol) in the climate change farce.

  11. manicbeancounter permalink
    November 30, 2015 9:20 pm


    Thanks for linking to my post. Although you quite rightly say that the UNFCCC (and many supporters) are naive, I do not think you have got quite right the nature of that naivety. It is not about the expectation that the real world will follow their lead. It is two-fold.
    The first is shown by Climate Action Tracker. They have a very particular interpretation of the INDCs, that squeezes the most favourable interpretation possible. Yet many of the countries are just playing the political game. Making the right noises, but also stating quite clearly that they are not doing anything substantial. Activist scientists just cannot see that this is a game to reconcile being “players on the world stage” with serving the real interests of the people of their countries, or at least not imposing stupid policies that could see them toppled from power.
    The second is shown by the International Energy Agency, in treating modelled data as forecasts. To make long-range forecasts needs some sort of modelling. That is simplification of the variables and making assumptions about the future course of events. But that needs to be done cautiously, and with a strong foundation in recent historical trends and clear statements about deviations from trends. The IEA, like the climatologist modellers, just picked the average of two modelled trends at least four years old and with strong policy assumptions because that “seemed to be about right”. The UNFCCC, consistent with the climate community accepts that because the projections come from climate experts they must be right.

  12. December 1, 2015 11:27 am

    I strongly agree with you! And, though it may seem redundant, I continue argueing that Paris (and other conferences) should (also) be about oceans, since ocens are the most important factor that influence climate on our planet. Oceans govern climate!

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