How are we doing? American readers in particular could use a little perspective. Trump is not the USA, the USA is not the world. So: good in parts. I will leave out the record temperatures, droughts, floods here and there, and melting Arctic ice. You know all that and it’s bad, bad. But we are maybe not doomed â€“ yet.
1. To start with the good news. Global industrial carbon emissions are about flat. The IEA says they are exactly flat at 32.1 gigatonnes of CO2 a year.
That’s 8.5 GT of carbon. I propose to use carbon rather than CO2 (1 unit carbon = 3.67 units CO2, by the molecular formula). Nobody can imagine a tonne of a gas. A tonne of carbon corresponds to about 1.3 tonnes of typical US hard coal, 1.2 tonnes of crude oil (with some variation).
The Tyndall Centre and the Global Carbon Project estimate global emissions including the hard-to-measure land-use changes and methane leaks. They find a slight rise: +0.7% in 2014, approximately constant in 2015, and up again by 0.2% in 2016 (provisional data excluding Q4). See here and Le QuÃ©rÃ© et al here.Â Global GDP growth was about 3%. We have decoupled GDP growth from industrial carbon emissions. There is still a little growth from land-use changes like deforestation.
2. A plateau isn’t enough. Emissions have to go down. Carbon BriefÂ has estimated the world’s remaining carbon budget at 222 GT for a 66% chance of staying within the 2 degree C target; 56 GT for the more demanding and prudent 1.5 degree target. I set up a few scenarios to show what these imply. Continue Reading…