Countries are submitting their plans for emission reductions now for discussion at the Paris IPCC meeting. Plans are in the form of “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDCs). You can track INDCs submitted to date and analyses by several NGOs:
Or see them directly at the UN site.
Emissions trading or cap and trade (“cap” meaning a legal limit on the quantity of a certain type of chemical an economy can emit each year) is a market-based approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants. Various countries have adopted emission trading systems as one of the strategies for mitigating climate-change by addressing international greenhouse-gas emission.
Carbon emissions trading is a form of emissions trading that specifically targets carbon dioxide (calculated in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent or tCO2e) and it currently constitutes the bulk of emissions trading. This form of permit trading is a common method countries utilize in order to meet their obligations specified by the Kyoto Protocol; namely the reduction of carbon emissions in an attempt to reduce (mitigate) future climate change. Under Carbon trading, a country having more emissions of carbon is able to purchase the right to emit more and the country having less emission trades the right to emit carbon to other countries. More carbon emitting countries, by this way try to keep the limit of carbon emission specified to them. The principles of carbon markets were established in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, but to date there have been few, if any, measurable reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that can be attributed to these measures. The two most important carbon markets so far – the EU Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS) and the UN’s carbon offsetting scheme, Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) – are failures, yet, new carbon markets based on these schemes are being planned in both developed and developing nations. CO2 emission certificates are more of a distraction than a solution. Regardless of problems with corruption (Once whatever set of rules are in place, the letter would be followed but the spirit broken) CO2 certificates are a bad a idea because pollution should be cut by more than 80 % and everybody must do its share. Local sustainable development must be promoted, but not as an excuse to pollute elsewhere. It is distracting to see sustainability form the perspective of fairness. The Guatemalan rain forest is not a Guatemalan problem in the same sense that the Amazon is not a Brazilian problem. The precious remaining of rain forest is our last ditch of hope for humanity as a whole. Their destruction implies much more than sad news on TV. It risks the destruction of the current civilization at a global scale. CO2 certificates (http://tco2.com/app/com/page/WhatIsCo2Certificate.action ) surge in the context of the Kyoto Protocol (http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/items/2830.php ) as an accounting Tragedy-of -Commons approach to CO2 pollution. One pollutes in one place, and pays somebody else not to pollute or sequester the same amount somewhere else; A kind of ransom. For years we have put our faith in the market to promote cleaner technology, and for years the carbon market has been riddled with corruption (http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/blog/why-are-carbon-markets-failing ). Alberta’s Can$60 million (US$57 million) carbon-cutting programme is failing, according to the latest report from the Canadian province’s auditor-general, Merwan Saher (http://www.nature.com/news/the-problems-with-emissions-trading-1.9491 ). Like many such programmes around the world, it includes an emissions trading scheme, which allows polluters to meet their emissions reductions targets by buying carbon offsets from a selection of approved projects. The offsets are supposed to be real, measurable and provable. But the report claims that the province, despite earlier warnings, has not improved its regulatory structure — and calls the emissions estimates and the offsets themselves into question. Europe’s experience shows that emissions trading is a disaster: it doesn’t reduce greenhouse gases, subsidizes the worst polluters, and locks in the fossil fuel economy (http://climateandcapitalism.com/2013/02/08/carbon-trading-has-failed-scrap-the-ets-now/ ). Europe’s cap-and-trade system for reducing the release of greenhouse gases is broken, but not everybody wants to fix it. Industry has profited immensely from the plummeting prices of CO2 emissions certificates, and from lax checks on questionable environmental projects undertaken overseas. The European Commission (http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/european-co2-emissions-reduction-system-is-broken-a-892134.html ), for example, estimates that 1.7 billion tons in excess pollution rights were on the market in late 2012. Because of oversupply, the price of emitting a ton of CO2 plummeted to only €4. The EU will soon have reached its not overly ambitious emissions reduction targets because of the economic slowdown. it is much more cost-effective to pollute the air with coal-fired power plants than switch to more environmentally friendly energy generation technologies. what got the Earth from 280 to 400 ppm atmospheric CO2.? A rough extrapolation for CO2 emissions since 1750 is a half trillion metric tonnes (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/apr/29/fossil-fuels-trillion– tonnes-burned) There are several ideas for sequestering CO2 as carbonate, which is 60/44ths as heavy as the CO2. Carbonates are not the only mechanism for sequestration. Other avenues include:
- Reforestation – though simply holding the line on deforestation looks to change the CO2 emissions annually by 18%.
- As reforestation covers the land the further sequestration of the wood laminate technology to sequester wood far longer into buildings, even skyscrapers, furthering the quick, functional and biologically supportive reduction in atmospheric CO2. The green house gas emissions of concrete and building materials is huge. 3% of world’s energy goes into the making of steel and 5% goes into the making of concrete. Building accounts for 47% of CO2 emissions. Read the text, and or view the TED video at http://blog.ted.com/2013/02/27/skyscrapers-of-wood-michael-green-at-ted2013/
list of sovereign states and territories by carbon dioxide emissions due to certain forms of human activity. The data presented below corresponds to emissions in 2010. The data was collected by the United States Department of Energy‘s Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) for the United Nations. The data only considers carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and cement manufacture, but not emissions from land use, land-use change and forestry. Emissions from international shipping or bunker fuels are also not included in national figures, which can make a huge difference for small countries with important ports. The top 10 countries in the world emit 69% of the world total. Other powerful, more potent greenhouse gases are not included in this data, includingmethane. Some dependencies and territories whose independence has not been generally recognized are also included as they are in the source data. Certain entities are mentioned here for purposes of comparison. These are indicated in italics and are not counted in the ordering of sovereign states. The concentration that is needed to restore energy balance to the Earth’s absorption vs radiation of energy will need to be somewhere between 280 and 350 ppm CO2. What is the size of chemical imbalance that needs to be reversed i.e. what got the Earth from 280 to 400 ppm atmospheric CO2.? A rough extrapolation for CO2 emissions since 1750 is a half trillion metric tonnes (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/apr/29/fossil-fuels-trillion– tonnes-burned) Ideas for reducing CO2 – Humans can and will need to follow several of these options. REDUCE EMISSIONS: How well can we reduce these flows? Solar and wind can replace the Electrical 24.6% listed below. Eventually (soon?) renewable energy can power much of the light transport – though freight trucks and rail will be harder to convert away from the power density of hydrocarbons.
- TAX CARBON: Specifically a Tax and Dividend policy such as called for by such divergent leaders as Hank Paulson, Larry Summers, Barbara Boxer and Bernie Sanders… with equal dividends to households (NOT a Cap-n-trade program which relinquishes power to Wall St. foxes-in-the-hen-house) EVEN many fossil fuel corporations are on board and ready for a carbon tax. Tax the Carbon at the mine or well-head by a rate that grows each year. Tax imports that have not been taxed based upon their embedded carbon usage. Then return it as a dividend. Giving it on a per capita basis might further the existing tax deductions for dependent children that continues the tilt towards having more children – so we may need to be sure the benefits have limits maybe by household instead of per person.
- REFORESTATION: simply holding the line on deforestation looks to change the CO2 emissions annually by 18%. NET reforestation can amplify that further – each year for a long time. Trees can be sequestration agents and food sources for decades and centuries. As the trees mature their individual ability to sequester CO2 increases, but there is a competition for sunlight,water and deep mineral nutrients in symbiosis with the fungi of the land. NOTE: One can not simply replace a cut tree with its capacity to store and cycle carbon with an instantaneous replacement of a dozen (or few dozen) small saplings. The only way that begins to work is over a span of years during which the cumulative growth of the saplings eventually surpasses what the one tree could do.
- USE WOOD INSTEAD OF CEMENT: As reforestation covers the land the further sequestration of the wood laminate technology to sequester wood far longer into buildings, even skyscrapers, furthering the quick, functional and biologically supportive reduction in atmospheric CO2. A TED talk by Architect Michael Green presents ideas that are fundamentally appealing to our love of wood and to our needs to repair the damage we have initiated. Read the text, and or view the TED video at http://blog.ted.com/2013/02/27/skyscrapers-of-wood-michael-green-at-ted2013/
- CONVERT AND BURY CARBONATES: Amplify the natural sequestration techniques above by industrial capture of CO2 and conversion to carbonates, then return it deep underground or under the sea floor. Carbonates are 60/44ths as heavy as the CO2, to get back to 340 ppm would require sequestering 225 Billion metric tonnes of CO2 now shared between the air and sea – with some smaller percentile in forests. That translates to about 307 Billion metric tonnes of Carbonate will need to be sequestered. What will that accomplish? If done quickly, we would reset the equilibrium point to between 1.1 – 2.2°C increase instead of the 2.6 – 4.5°C increases now in our future at 400 ppm. China is already doing this for their newer coal plants. (90 second video).
techniques of obfuscation (and the think-tank) used by the tobacco industry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_denial Exponential economic growth is a inherent part of capitalistic economic systems. It springs directly from the profit motive (or capital accumulation) and is expressed in interest on capital. The current World Economic system can keep going based in consumerism because it ignores externalities (http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-energy-choices/coal-and-other-fossil-fuels/the-hidden-cost-of-fossil.html#.VN64YPnF-So ). Most of the World scale anthropogenic effects on climate is really apparent after the Second World War II (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2015/01/14/science.1259855.full). U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have fallen nearly 12 percent over the past five years, and are currently down to 1996 levels (http://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2013/05/whats-behind-the-good-news-declines-in-u-s-co2-emissions/ ). Nowadays, China is the world’s largest emitter of anthropogenic air pollutants, and measurable amounts of Chinese pollution are transported via the atmosphere to other countries, including the United States. However, a large fraction of Chinese emissions is due to manufacture of goods for foreign consumption (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3918792/ ). While is true that the Soviet and Chinese regimes have done a terrible job regarding sustainable development, the fact remains that a growth-based consume-and-waste economy is a path to communal suicide. It is not helpful to be distracted by ideological discussions. However, it is not a trivial problem to either define or structure a change path to a new socio economic model. Regardless, it needs to be done. There is no much time left. One of most frequently recommended blogs is shared not for the precision, merely for its trend pattern. If population crashes it would be like the deer of St Matthew Island (http://dieoff.org/page80.htm) No rebound at all. At a global scale maybe some remanent population at the verge of extinction. According to current estimates, global population is expected to peak at about 10 billion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Projections_of_population_growth). The risk of catastrophic Climate change is a risk, not a certainty. But even if the Climate does not break, there are many other risks, for example, a world without effective antibiotics, or the almost certainty of an acidified ocean. How hard would it be the fall? How safe would be to be in the States, Europe, or China in a 100 years? When considering what climate scientists think about intervening in the climate system to counteract the warming caused by an elevated CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, it might be wise to regard statements in the mass media with some skepticism. As an example, you might consider the OpEd in USA Today by Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist. the two concluding paragraphs are as follows:
It is possible, of course, that sustaining the kind of aerosol layer that circled the Earth in 1991 would just make things worse. We just don’t know. We need to do the research so that if a climate catastrophe does occur, politicians will know whether turning down the heat this way can really save lives and alleviate suffering. Ignorance is not an option. The cost of not knowing is too large. The ethical path forward is to generate the knowledge now that may be needed to save lives in the future.
===== Layman questions to be answered by geologists by R.D.Schuiling Q: Volcanoes emit every year a sizable volume of CO2. Does that all remain in the atmosphere and the oceans? A: Fortunately not. If all that CO2 had stayed in the atmosphere and oceans, the Earth would now have an atmosphere with a CO2 pressure around 100 bar, and a surface temperature of 500 degrees centigrade, making life impossible. Q: Where did that CO2 go? A.: Have you ever walked in the Dolomites or sailed along the Cliffs of Dover? Those enormous masses of dolomite or calcite carry million times more CO2 than contained in the atmosphere, the oceans and the biosphere together. Q: But how did it get there? A: By two processes. First water and CO2 react with basic silicates, by which bicarbonate solutions are formed. That process is called weathering. Then these solutions are carried by rivers to the sea, where corals, shellfish and plankton turn it into limestones and dolomites. Those are the safe and sustainable CO2 storage rooms of nature. Q: So we don’t have to do anything, these processes will take care of the problem? A: On the contrary, we have a lot to do. Presently we emit fifty to hundred times more CO2 than is normally emitted by volcanoes. That causes a rapid rise of the CO2 level of the atmosphere (400.3 ppm beginning of February 2015). It also causes a lowering of the pH of the oceans. This emission is caused by the fact that we burn in a few hundred years all the fossil fuels that have taken hundreds of millions of years to form. Weathering is too slow to cope with this increased emission. Q: Can’t we increase the rate of weathering, to restore the balance between input and output? A: That is possible. We must look for common rocks (like olivine rocks) that weather easily. We must mine those rocks, mill them and spread the grains over fields, beaches and shallow seas (and even in sandboxes in nursery schools). Q: Why don’t we start doing it? A: Because it costs money, and every country tries to shift the burden. Maybe we need a climate catastrophe before anything is done to avert climate change. Q: But what must we do when the olivine is finished? A: The olivine will never be finished, there is much more olivine in huge massifs in many countries on every continent than we will ever need for solving the climate change problem. Q: There is no life on our sister planet Venus. Its atmosphere has a CO2 pressure of 75 bars, and its surface temperature is 465 degrees centigrade. Why does it not work there? A: Because there is no liquid water on Venus, and that is a necessary condition for weathering. Q: So we owe our existence to water and weathering? A: Yes. ==== cost/benefit analysis is hard to apply here as the main issue is the risk of unbounded unknown unpredictable consequences. It is understood, in general, but hard to express with precision that the cost/benefit is in terms of the global human community. We are all stakeholders since geo-engineering in the scale to impact golbal warming is by definition a process with global consequences. Climate Change is already here – and so far we only see the leading consequences. What we are experiencing is the delayed effect of the CO2 changes from 40 years ago. It takes that long for the system to halfway reach equilibrium along an exponential decay curve. The droughts, floods, and weather extremes of recent years (including Hurricane Irene reaching Vermont – with Sandy striking in late October only a year later… and two super Typhoons since then in the Pacific) These are SYMPTOMS of the churning in our atmosphere as Earth warms ever more vigorously. “The coldest outbreak of the season is pushing south into the eastern United States this week. Temperatures will be running as low as 30 to 40 degrees below normal across the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic on Friday morning. Thursday night’s departure from normal temperatures is shown above in Celsius. (tropicaltidbits.com)” http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2015/02/18/polar-vortex-to-unleash-recor… Update: Records fall across eastern U.S., coldest yet to come _______________________________________________________________________________ Symptoms in the current weather events are generated by generally warmer air => a smaller temperature gradient between the Arctic and the subtropics => which in winter is now small enough to weaken the Jet Stream => and a weaker Jet Stream means the currents wobble more, set into holding patterns, and as the geography shapes the patterns – sets up Arctic air masses being dropped down into lower latitudes as a polar vortex. GO BEYOND THE CURRENT SYMPTOMS – AT VARIOUS LEVELS OF DETAIL
- http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/didnt-read-the-most-important-climate-report-in-6-years-this-4minute-video-…The video states many summary conclusions.
- To dig deeper, the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report or at least study the Summary for Policymakers (a 39 page PDF) The reading is easy (it IS designed for policymakers … Below is a sample) ONE Key quote – of many worth noting in the report: “Adaptation and mitigation are complementary strategies for reducing and managing the risks of climate change. Substantial emissions reductions over the next few decades can reduce climate risks in the 21st century and beyond, increase prospects for effective adaptation, reduce the costs and challenges of mitigation in the longer term, and contribute to climate – resilient pathways for sustainable development.” The question of Risk Assessment is the focus of one more page from that Policymaker Summary
- Many skeptics prefer to disparage the scientific reports by the IPCC , the USA’s National Climate Assessment,NASA, the World Bank, or the jointly shared report by NAS & the Royal Society. This course content has frequently cited the Economist as a resource but on their published assessment of the science the Economist is dangerously misguided in its analysis – perhaps influencing some course participants. I’ll offer as evidence the detailed defense of the editorial care that went into the IPCC report as Part 1 to my argument. It is a video of a presentation “The Grantham Institute for Climate Change Annual Lecture 2013” – given by Professor Thomas Stocker, University of Bern, Switzerland and … (note his position =>) Co-chair of IPCC WGI. Part 2 – I assert that the IPCC has been under such intense scrutiny that it has consistently UNDERSTATED the risks. Argue as some will, there are an abundance of scientists speaking out as to the conservative bias in the IPCC process.Let’s emphasize that:
IPCC Vice-Chair Jean-Pascal van Ypersele countered that “the mandate of IPCC is to assess where there is consensus, and to reflect the full diversity of views that are scientifically valid where there is not.”* He conceded that by requiring teams of authors to agree upon a report’s text, the IPCC process is inherently conservative. Getting the balance right, he said in an e-mail, is “not always easy.”
- The one thing the scientists do agree upon is that we have a high likelihood of intensifying problems if we rush into Geoengineering – and that warning was repeatedly evidenced in the very TED Talk used to best consider that option.
WHERE TO FROM HERE? I’ll conclude with what I suggest is much more worthy of consideration as to our immediate decision process than the financial cost analyses recommended by a few. Seen nearly 7 million times – “The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See” is also now available as a book.