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Why global emissions must peak by 2020

Filed under: — stefan @ 2 June 2017

(by Stefan Rahmstorf and Anders Levermann)

In the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, the world’s nations have committed to “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels”. This goal is deemed necessary to avoid incalculable risks to humanity, and it is feasible – but realistically only if global emissions peak by the year 2020 at the latest.

Let us first address the importance of remaining well below 2°C of global warming, and as close to 1.5°C as possible. The World Meteorological Organization climate report[i] for the past year has highlighted that global temperature and sea levels keep rising, reaching record highs once again in 2016. Global sea ice cover reached a record low, and mountain glaciers and the huge ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are on a trajectory of accelerating mass loss. More and more people are suffering from increasing and often unprecedented extreme weather events[ii], both in terms of casualties and financial losses. This is the situation after about 1°C global warming since the late 19th Century.

Not only will these impacts get progressively worse as warming continues, but our planet also runs a growing risk of crossing critical tipping points where major and largely irreversible changes to the Earthsystem are triggered (see Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 Tipping elements in the Earth system, in relation to past global temperature evolution since the last Ice Age 20,000 years ago as well as future warming scenarios[iii]. The Paris range of 1.5 – 2 °C warming is shown in grey; the bars show increasing risk of crossing tipping points from yellow to red.

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS in Fig. 1) has likely already been destabilised, committing the world to at least three meters of global sea-level rise in coming centuries[iv] – an outcome that scientists have warned about since the 1970s[v]. The Greenland Ice Sheet – holding enough ice to eventually raise global sea levels by seven meters – may likewise be destabilised below 2°C[vi]. Coral reefs have suffered pan-tropical mass bleaching in 2016 and are doing so again in 2017 as a result of warming oceans, and only if global temperature stays well below 2°C some remnants of the world’s coral reefs can be saved[vii]. The Gulf Stream system (THC in Fig. 1) appears to be already slowing[viii] and recent research indicates it is far more unstable than previously thought.

Because overall global temperature rise depends on cumulative global CO2 emissions, the Paris temperature range can be translated, with some uncertainty, into a budget of CO2emissions that are still permissible. This is the overall budget for the century and it lies within the range of 150 to 1050 Gt of CO2, based on updated numbers from IPCC[ix]. At the current global emission level of 39 GtCO2 per year, the lower limit of this range would be crossed in less than four years and is thus already unachievable without massive application of largely unproven and speculative carbon dioxide removal technologies. Even the CO2 budget corresponding to the mid-point of this uncertainty range, 600 GtCO2, is equivalent to only 15 years of current emissions. Fig. 2 illustrates three scenarios with this budget and different peaking years for global emissions. It makes clear that even if we peak in 2020 reducing emissions to zero within twenty years will be required. By assuming a more optimistic budget of 800 Gt this can be stretched to thirty years, but at a significant risk of exceeding 2°C warming.

It is still possible therefore to meet the Paris temperature goals if emissions peak by 2020 at the latest, and there are signs to show we are moving in that direction as global CO2 emissions have not increased for the past three years. We will need an enormous amount of action and scaled up ambition to harness the current momentum in order to travel down the decarbonisation curve at the necessary pace; the window to do that is still open[x].

In summary, declining carbon emissions after 2020 is a necessity for meeting the Paris temperature limit of “well below 2 degrees”.

Fig. 2 Three illustrative scenarios for spending the same budget of 600 Gt CO2, with emissions peaking in 2016 (green), 2020 (blue) and 2025 (red), and an alternative with 800 Gt (dashed).

Note: This article first appeared in the report 2020 The Climate Turning Point

References

[i] World Meteorological Organisation. WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2016 (WMO, Geneva, 2017).

[ii] World Meteorological Organisation. Weather extremes in a changing climate: hindsight on foresight (WMO, Geneva, 2011).

[iii] Schellnhuber, H. J., Rahmstorf, S. & Winkelmann, R. Why the right climate target was agreed in Paris. Nature Climate Change 6, 649-653 (2016). doi:10.1038/nclimate3013

[iv] Feldmann, J. & Levermann, A. Collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet after local destabilization of the Amundsen Basin. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 112, 14191-6 (2015). doi:10.1073/pnas.1512482112

[v] Mercer, J. West Antarctic ice sheet and CO2 greenhouse effect: a threat of disaster. Nature 271, 321-325 (1978).

[vi] Robinson, A., Calov, R. & Ganopolski, A. Multistability and critical thresholds of the Greenland ice sheet. Nature Climate Change 2, 429-432 (2012). doi:10.1038/nclimate1449

[vii] Frieler, K. et al. Limiting global warming to 2 degrees C is unlikely to save most coral reefs. Nature Climate Change 3, 165-170 (2013). doi:Doi 10.1038/Nclimate1674

[viii] Rahmstorf, S. et al. Exceptional twentieth-century slowdown in Atlantic Ocean overturning circulation. Nature Climate Change 5, 475-480 (2015). doi:10.1038/nclimate2554

[ix] Peters, G. How much carbon dioxide can we emit?  (2017) http://cicero.uio.no/en/posts/climate/how-much-carbon-dioxide-can-we-emit.

[x] A Roadmap for Rapid Decarbonization. Science, March 24, 2017: Johan Rockström, Owen Gaffney, Joeri Rogelj, Malte Meinshausen, Neboja Nakicenovic, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber http://www.sciencemagazinedigital.org/sciencemagazine/24_march_2017?pg=33#pg33

210 Responses to “Why global emissions must peak by 2020”

  1. 151
    Larry Edwards says:

    RE: #144, Glen Koehler …

    I’m not an expert on tipping points, but have a few observations pertinent to your questions.

    1. The citation for the chart is [iii], a paper in which the same chart (Fig. 1 here) appears. The caption cites 6 references that should provide some useful information on why some of the bars seem so high. (But I haven’t checked those references out yet.)

    2. The permafrost bar seems high to me, since effects are already notable. Also, I don’t see methane hydrates among the bars, or methane blowouts such as are occurring in Siberia (but maybe those are included in the permafrost bar?).

    3. The categories for the bars in Fig. 1 are different than the ones in well-known burning embers diagrams from some time ago (Smith 2009 (see slide 15)).

  2. 152
    Larry Edwards says:

    Also, the older burning embers diagrams were for intensity of effects, while Fig. 1 uses the same kind of color-coding for tipping points. So not only are the categories different, so is the kind of effect being estimated.

  3. 153
    Barbara says:

    Not much mention of climate lag. Yet that’s highly significant when talking about limiting temperature rises.

  4. 154
    Dennis N Horne says:

    Thomas. I thought you made a valuable contribution and said so. I didn’t agree entirely with your argument, but my view is if people don’t want to read your posts they don’t have to. You can write and others can read or not read and agree or not agree, mock, scoff, covefefe, covfefe, covfefe. Who cares? Just have your say.

    We are all deeply flawed.

  5. 155
    Thomas says:

    142 Larry Edwards, good post and reviewed the 2009 refs. Well said. Another of the many voices in the wilderness?

    Also in RealClimate’s 2009 post “Hit the Brakes Hard” (4/29/09) was: “But getting everybody to agree to this is the discouraging part. The commentary by Parry et al advises us to prepare to adapt to climate changes of at least 4°C, even though they recognize that it may not be possible to buy our way out of most of the damage…”

    RC authors were right then, and they are right now (albeit far more wishy washy today), however they, rc readers and commenters lack power and influence.

    Continue to prepare to be discouraged, as that is a healthy rational psychological approach which may minimise self-harm and inappropriate guilt.

  6. 156
    Thomas says:

    144 Glen Koehler: “Am I the only one who sees Figure 1 as ludicrous?”

    No, not at all. Many have questioned the contents. The article certainly pushed my buttons into a red hot range: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2017/06/why-global-emissions-must-peak-by-2020/comment-page-1/#comment-678835
    Very discouraging state of affairs.

    Looks ot me that no one is taking a sustained strategy of “debating/debunking” the denialist PR industry nor aggressively outing the luke warmist political powers that be.

    imo the core problem is this: “When there is no unity and no significant institutional power behind a “scientific point of view” or “activist movement” then the more outspoken get picked off one by one while others on the same team tend to tone it down or retreat from public outspokeness.

    But I do seriously question even with a perfectly coordinated and well funded science based pro-agw/cc activist campaign existed it could make a difference or change anyone’s beliefs enough or change enough politicians Votes.

    Ultimately it’s only Nature herself who is going to the one who changes minds.

  7. 157

    posible edit:
    “and only if global temperature stays well below 2°C some remnants of the world’s coral reefs can be saved[vii].”
    consider using:
    “and only if global temperature stays well below 2°C can some remnants of the world’s coral reefs be saved[vii].”

  8. 158
    Charles Hughes says:

    Thomas says: “It’s logical to assume that the moderators are not concerned at all about PBL repeatedly embarrassing himself in public. Otherwise those USSR posts would have ended up in the bore hole where they belonged.”

    Thomas, you are the one who received a full reprimand from the moderators of this blog telling you to ‘Knock it Off’ with the lengthy, rambling posts and multiple pointless links and clickbait.

    An intelligent person would have taken the hint and dialed it back but because you don’t have the ability to moderate yourself, others have to. Sad

  9. 159
    Karsten V. Johansen says:

    Here comes news for the Paris”agreement” (it’s not by any means binding if you didn’t notice) optimists:

    “The world’s biggest coal users — China, the United States and India — have boosted coal mining in 2017, in an abrupt departure from last year’s record global decline for the heavily polluting fuel and a setback to efforts to rein in climate change emissions.

    Mining data reviewed by The Associated Press show that production through May is up by at least 121 million tons, or 6 percent, for the three countries compared to the same period last year. The change is most dramatic in the U.S., where coal mining rose 19 percent in the first five months of the year, according to U.S. Department of Energy data.

    Coal’s fortunes had appeared to hit a new low less than two weeks ago, when British energy company BP reported that tonnage mined worldwide fell 6.5 percent in 2016, the largest drop on record. China and the U.S. accounted for almost all the decline, while India showed a slight increase.

    The reasons for this year’s turnaround include policy shifts in China, changes in U.S. energy markets and India’s continued push to provide electricity to more of its poor, industry experts said. President Donald Trump’s role as coal’s booster-in-chief in the U.S. has played at most a minor role, they said.”

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/coal-rise-china-us-india-record-2016-drop-48276160

    We don’t need any more silly optimism. We need James Hansen’s carbon fee and dividend, as fast as possible. It’s working in British Columbia. So where are you, sandernistas, Greens, climate scientists? Some Republican senator are in. I’m pretty sure more neomccarthyism and bombraids against syrian, Iranians and whatever forces won’t save us from climate desaster. In fact it won’t even save us from more trumpism, even if dressed as Clinton III or Bush III…

  10. 160
    Karsten V. Johansen says:

    Sorry for some misspellings due to the fantastic AI in my smartphone software. Republican senators, not just one of them. And iranian forces.

  11. 161
    Brian Dodge says:

    “but what is the lag between temperature change and sea level change?”
    “The GRACE satellites, launched in 2002, detect changes in gravity as the amount of ice changes in Greenland, allowing us to distinguish the season cycle of snowfall and melt, as well as the mass loss from calving.” https://www.carbonbrief.org/guest-post-the-state-of-the-greenland-ice-sheet-in-2015
    Seasonal response requires a lag of less than a year in melting, and my “eyecrometer” shows that the maximum melt rate occurs in midsummer – June in 2006, the dotted line on the last chart near the bottom of the page. Tsunami displacement waves travel at ~ 970km/hr, so the lag from hydrostatic equilibration is neglible. Currently, the noise in sea level measurements introduced by daily tides, variable differences between evaporation, rainfall, and runoff(complicated by dam releases), thermal changes due to warming, and sloshing due to ENSO, earthquakes, and large storms (though this will not change mean sea level, it will introduce noise into the measurements) hides the annual cycle in SLR. It might be detectable by careful Fourier analysis, but a short google search doesn’t confirm this. I’m looking for a source for the data used in the graph of Greenland SMB to compare with the monthly temperature
    (http://sdwebx.worldbank.org/climateportal/DownloadData/tas5_1991_2015.xls) to see if there is a month or two delay between max T and max mass loss.

  12. 162
    t marvell says:

    re 159: China’s claim that it is attempting to reduce coal burning should be taken with a grain of salt. The political realities there are that the states compete for new industry. In order to attract new industry, a state must maintain an assured supply of electricity. Thus the states over-build coal plants, and maintain overcapacity. The central government has limited power to reign in this progression.

  13. 163
    Jonathan Harris says:

    Why isn’t the expansion of nuclear energy or at least the continued operation of existing capacity on the to-do list for the short term? At least I have not heard it mentioned in the press account.

  14. 164
    Thomas says:

    re #158 Charles Hughes says “Sad”.

    The GBR:
    “Its significance is a consequence of our insignificance. To put a monetary value on it suggests that it is useful and exploitable, but it is truly valuable only when it is neither. Putting a price on beauty is not the same as the moral wrong of slavery but it is related to it, because both cases reduce worth to utility.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/28/the-guardian-view-on-pricing-the-great-barrier-reef-a-dangerous-absurdity

    Audio interview
    Coal vs coral: plunging into Australia’s climate wars with Anna Krien
    In the latest Quarterly Essay Anna examines the politics and psychology of the ‘climate wars’ in Australia. She travelled around the country, talking to power workers, scientists, farmers and politicians. She swam and dived on the Great Barrier Reef, and saw the bleached coral for herself.
    The result is Anna’s latest Quarterly Essay, which she describes as the “biggest, toughest work she’s ever done.”
    http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/conversations-anna-krien/8636582
    and/or
    https://dailyreview.com.au/anna-kriens-long-goodbye-coal-coral-australias-climate-deadlock-extract/61217/

    So, no coral reefs from circa 2040 onward = less fish globally = less food protein for humans = more hunger = more starvation = more ill health, wars, and death.

    From 1 year ago now – ‘Demise of the Great Barrier Reef’ aka the 21st century Canary in the Coal mine with Dr John (Charlie) Veron, the ‘Godfather of Coral’ who has been diving on the Great Barrier Reef for 50 years
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY9p746teHE

  15. 165
    Thomas says:

    Three years to safeguard our climate

    Christiana Figueres,
    Hans Joachim Schellnhuber,
    Gail Whiteman,
    Johan Rockström,
    Anthony Hobley
    & Stefan Rahmstorf
    Nature 546, 593–595 (29 June 2017) doi:10.1038/546593a
    https://www.nature.com/news/three-years-to-safeguard-our-climate-1.22201

    and here it is in a Murdoch Newscorp paper

    HUMANITY must put carbon dioxide emissions on a downward slope by 2020 to have a realistic shot at capping global warming at well under two degrees Celsius, the bedrock goal of the Paris climate accord, experts said Wednesday.

    The authors called on leaders set to gather at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7-8 to highlight 2020 as a make-or-break point for taking action.

    Renewable energy — mainly wind and solar — must make up at least 30 per cent of the world’s electricity supply, it said. Moreover, no additional coal-fired power plants should be approved after that date. (= Regulation?)

    In the transport sector, electric vehicles — which currently represent one per cent of new car sales — should account for 15 per cent of the market by that date. (= Regulation?)

    Governments should also require a 20 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency for heavy-duty vehicles, and a 20 per cent drop in carbon dioxide pollution per kilometre travelled in the aviation sector. (= Regulation?)

    Greenhouse gases from deforestation and agriculture, currently about 12 per cent of the global total, must be cut to zero within a decade, the experts wrote. (= Regulation?)

    They also called for concrete measures to curb carbon emitted by heavy industry, as well as by buildings and infrastructure. (= Regulation?)

    Finally, governments and banks must ramp up by tenfold the amount of “green bonds” used to finance CO2-cutting measures, currently about $81 billion ($A105 billion). (= Regulation?)

    http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/we-have-a-2020-deadline-to-avert-climate-catastrophe-experts/news-story/bcbe18fd8f96efba3ae411f53a12de93

  16. 166

    tm 162,

    China is closing coal plants as fast as it can, including some that weren’t complete yet.

    http://bartonlevenson.com/ChinaAndIndia.html

  17. 167

    JH 163,

    Because nukes are expensive, dangerous, and take years to deploy. Possibly some of the safer and cheaper fourth generation nukes will help, but it may or may not be in time. And it’s certainly not safe to depend on it.

  18. 168
    Hank Roberts says:

    for JH 163
    https://www.google.com/search?q=china+“pebble+bed+reactor”+replace+coal
    Claiming not “too cheap to meter” but “too safe to need to spend money on containment”

  19. 169
    Andrew says:

    Re: #163 Jonathan Harris

    “Why isn’t the expansion of nuclear energy or at least the continued operation of existing capacity on the to-do list for the short term?”

    Because simple math. It takes 10 years and $10 billion to build a 1.5GW nuclear reactor, but it takes 15 months and $1 billion to build a 500MW solar PV or onshore wind farm. Also solar PV or wind farms supply electricity at < $0.05/kWh, whereas electricity from nuclear power plants costs $0.16/kWh.

    "Continued operation of existing capacity"… requires maintenance, which at some point in time becomes more expensive than replacing said nuclear capacity with renewables. It is quite probable that by around 2060 there won't be any commercial nuclear reactor operating in the world. Good riddance too.

    Refer to this document for a detailed analysis: https://www.worldnuclearreport.org/The-World-Nuclear-Industry-Status-Report-2016-HTML.html

    Re: #167 BPL
    "Possibly some of the safer and cheaper fourth generation nukes will help…". Isn't that an example of magical thinking, just like counting on fusion reactors or an alien intervention to help fight climate change? There isn't a single prototype of a 4th Gen nuclear reactor or even a validated design from which to draw any conclusions about time-to-build, safety or building/operating costs. Just sayin'…

  20. 170
    Matt Kegerreis says:

    Hmmmm. Let’s see. We’re at 1+ degrees warming now. Antarctica is very likely destabilized. A Blue Ocean Event will likely occur in the Arctic by 2020. Methane releases are increasing at an accelerating rate. Stopping CO2 emissions will increase the warming by .5 to 1 degree by aerosols reduction. So exactly why are we talking about two degrees?

  21. 171
    Andrew says:

    Re: #170 Matt Kegerreis

    “… why are we talking about two degrees?”

    This was already discussed at length here on RealClimate, a quick Google search will get you to the previous relevant articles and comments.

    But the essence of what action must be taken to fight climate change does not change whether we are nearer or further from the 2C warming threshold or even when we’ll be past it (apparently around 2036): we have to implement emergency policies to reduce GHG emissions radically and as quickly as possible, and eventually reach a net zero emissions situation.

    The future costs of mitigation rise exponentially though, with each day we postpone emergency policies to reduce GHG emissions; “future” being the keyword here, because essentially our generation is leaving the costs of mitigation for future generations to pay for.

  22. 172
    Andrew says:

    Regarding nuclear power, EDF who is set to build two latest generation EPR reactors at Hinkley Point in the U.K., just announced today that the two reactors will cost 1.5 billion pounds more than previously thought, and will be take roughly one year longer to get built.
    Here is the announcement (in French): http://www.boursorama.com/actualites/edf-le-cout-du-projet-hinkley-point-s-alourdit-de-1-5-md-404dddbf0b9b1631e8c88aa3cfe84255

    The French EPR at Flamanville is three times over budget and years behind schedule.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flamanville_Nuclear_Power_Plant

    In both cases, Hinkley Point and Flamanville, French taxpayers are expected to pick up the tab for cost overruns.

  23. 173
    t marvell says:

    #165 and others: I see no realistic evidence that the world is dealing with global warming. There are PR campaigns around the world, but little substance. The climate science community is understating the extent of the problems, apparently so it won’t appear alarmist.

    The clear-cut, certain fact is that CO2 levels keeps rising at the same rate. That makes irrelevant any evidence that CO2 emissions are slowing. Anyway, that evidence is based on self-serving estimates by individual governments, especially China (the optimists are now relegated, like post 166, to believing Chinese PR). Even if CO2 levels were reduced, the lag between CO2 changes and temperature is long, such that temperature increases are almost certainly baked in for decades. Attempts to limit CO2 will not show a benefit until far beyond the tenure of current world leaders, which limits their incentive to deal with the problem.

    What must be done, but realistically will not be done, is to make reducing CO2 the primary goal of world governments, ahead of such goals as increasing and maintaining prosperity. The first action would be the immediate shut-down of most coal plants and placing high taxes on all CO2 emitting activity, such as automobiles, power plants and cement plants.

    The only other option is geo-engineering. I suspect that world leaders hope to rely on such things as albedo change to counteract CO2 increases.

  24. 174
    Thomas says:

    169 Andrew
    There isn’t a single prototype of a 4th Gen nuclear reactor or even a validated design from which to draw any conclusions about time-to-build, safety or building/operating costs. Just sayin’…

    China’s 4th generation nuclear power plant to go online in 2018
    2013
    https://www.iaea.org/NuclearPower/Downloadable/Meetings/2013/2013-06-10-06-12-TM-NPTD/2_china_htrpm_progress.pdf

    2015
    https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2015/01/production-of-300000-fuel-pebbles-per.html

    2016
    https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/12/chinas-plans-to-begin-converting-coal.html

    2017
    Chinese 1.2GW nuke 3 yr construction period “A proposal to construct two 600 MWe HTR plants – each featuring three twin reactor and turbine units – at Ruijin city in China’s Jiangxi province passed a preliminary feasibility review in early 2015. The design of the Ruijin HTRs is based on the smaller Shidaowan demonstration 210MWe HTR-PM. Construction of the Ruijin reactors is expected to start next year, with grid connection in 2021.”
    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-First-vessel-installed-in-Chinas-HTR-PM-unit-2103164.html
    https://neutronbytes.com/2017/04/09/triso-fuel-drives-global-development-of-advanced-reactors/
    https://neutronbytes.com/2017/03/18/china-expands-uses-markets-for-its-htgrs/
    http://stoppingclimatechange.com/high_temperature_reactor.htm

    RE <i."Also solar PV or wind farms supply electricity at < $0.05/kWh…"
    Practice does not include storage costs and dispatch-ability to meet real world demand. What do do about locations where wind/solar is not suitable for break even electricity supply – be it natural conditions or lack of demand vs distance capacity to supply.

    (iow solar/wind just like hydro has natural restrictions by location that precludes viable deployment – aka horses for courses)

  25. 175
    t marvell says:

    Cost calculations for power sources are iffy and are dominated by political considerations. Nuclear power (as well as hydro power) has huge hidden costs in that the potential damage from catastrophes is immense. At present, the public bares the costs because government laws limit liability. Full insurance coverage would be prohibitively high.

    Over the long haul, that situation may be unsustainable. Several more catastrophes may force all or most plants to close, a cost that is not entered as part life-time benefits accorded to the plants or as part of the cost per unit of electricity.

    Of course, fossil fuel plants have huge hidden costs – environmental damage – which is very political.

    Wind and solar seem to have fewer political costs – largely esthetics.

  26. 176
    Andrew says:

    For those who are interested in electricity generation from renewables and how much investment will be required to have a chance to keep global warming under 2C, Seb Henbest, Lead Author, New Energy Outlook, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, summarizes his experts team’s work in this article:
    http://reneweconomy.com.au/solar-and-wind-tipping-points-one-down-and-one-to-go-59083/

    Quoting from the article:

    10 key messages for energy in 2017-2040. Here they are:

    – Solar and wind dominate the future of electricity

    – Solar’s challenge gets more serious

    – Onshore wind costs fall fast, and offshore falls faster

    – China and India are a $4 trillion opportunity for the energy sector

    – Batteries and new sources of flexibility bolster reach of renewables

    – Homeowners’ love of solar grows

    – Electric vehicles bolster electricity use and help balance the grid

    – Coal-fired power collapses in Europe and the U.S., peaks globally by 2026

    – Gas is a transition fuel, but not in the way most people think

    – Global power sector emissions peak in just over ten years, then decline

  27. 177
    Mal Adapted says:

    BPL:

    Here’s my tutorial on formal logic. Part 3 is a long list of logical fallacies.

    http://bartonlevenson.com/ISK/Logic/00Logic.html

    It’s always best to research these things before posting.

    Or whenever one is trying not to fool oneself. Or has a spare moment to improve one’s bullshit detection readiness. IMHO it’s actually best to have these things in the front of your mind, before getting into an argument.

    Barton, I was skimming this thread again when I came across your comment from a while back. I’ve bookmarked the link. Well done, and thank you.

  28. 178

    Thanks, Mal! I wasn’t sure anyone had read those tutorials. It’s part of a larger sub-site on my home page: The grandiosely named “Intellectual Survival Kit.” If anyone’s interested, here’s the URL:

    http://bartonlevenson.com/ISK/ISK.html

    I plan to add more over time.

  29. 179
    Andrew says:

    Re: #173 t marvell
    “I see no realistic evidence that the world is dealing with global warming.”

    “dealing with global warming” is rather vague. Even so, there is plenty of evidence that there is a ongoing global initiative to reduce emissions. For one, of course, we have the Paris Agreement, and then you have what is happening in each of the 194 countries that signed it.
    For example, this news:
    “Germany Generated 35% Of Its Electricity From Renewables In First Half Of 2017”
    https://cleantechnica.com/2017/07/04/germany-generated-35-electricity-renewables-first-half-2017/

  30. 180

    Andrew : “Possibly some of the safer and cheaper fourth generation nukes will help…”. Isn’t that an example of magical thinking, just like counting on fusion reactors or an alien intervention to help fight climate change?

    BPL: No, it is not at all like magical thinking. That’s why I said “possibly.” Read for context.

  31. 181
    Andrew says:

    Re: #173 t marvell
    “I see no realistic evidence that the world is dealing with global warming.”

    Perhaps you don’t read the news?

    Apart from “…dealing with global warming” being rather vague, there is plenty of evidence that there is a ongoing global effort to reduce emissions, on the scientific and political fronts. For one, of course, we have the IPCC and the Paris Agreement, and then you have what is happening in each of the 194 countries that signed it.
    For example, this news:
    “Germany Generated 35% Of Its Electricity From Renewables In First Half Of 2017”
    https://cleantechnica.com/2017/07/04/germany-generated-35-electricity-renewables-first-half-2017/

  32. 182
    Andrew says:

    Jonathan Harris: “Why isn’t the expansion of nuclear energy or at least the continued operation of existing capacity on the to-do list for the short term?” (to decrease global CO2 emissions after 2020).

    BPL: “Possibly some of the safer and cheaper fourth generation nukes will help, but it may or may not be in time.”

    The context here is that global CO2 emissions have to peak and then decrease rapidly around 2020.

    And the fact is that (despite the nuclear industry propaganda reproduced above by T.) 4th Gen nuclear reactors are not anywhere ready to be deployed as of 2017 and there is no indication that any such will be deployed in significant numbers in the next 60 years or so, actually there is ample evidence that the number of nuclear reactors operating in the world has already peaked and will slowly decline to zero by around 2060 (See the World Nuclear Report 2016 linked to above).

    So call it wishful thinking, magical thinking or nuclear industry propaganda, but deploying theoretical 4th Gen nuclear reactors is certainly NOT among the realistic options available. And there is no room for “possibly” at this stage. That is what this discussion is all about: what MUST be done – realistically – to have a chance to stay under 2C warming.

    You can also check the BNEF report: they predict the share of nuclear electricity generation to decline to 3% by 2040. That’s from the investors’ point of view. Banks are not putting their money on nuclear, not because of environmental or safety concerns, but simply because it’s a $hitty investment.

  33. 183
    t marvell says:

    181: Did you read the article you referenced. Although Germany is generating more electricity from renewables, it not using less carbon fuels in other areas, and it is behind schedule in meeting its Paris goals.

    Germany is a leader in switching away from carbon fuels, and it has made progress in electricity production.
    In general, there is no noticeable progress toward reducing GHG worldwide. One can always find a bright spot – here in one unusually pro-renewable sector in one unusually pro-renewable country – but that does not signify overall progress.

    Probably, the only measure of progress would be declines in CO2 in the atmosphere.

  34. 184
    Thomas says:

    182 Andrew says: “The context here is that global CO2 emissions have to peak and then decrease rapidly around 2020 [..] That is what this discussion is all about: what MUST be done – realistically – to have a chance to stay under 2C warming.”

    Nothing can be done to stay below 2C. To believe otherwise is wishful thinking, magical thinking or anti-nuclear industry propaganda. :-)

    re “deploying theoretical 4th Gen nuclear reactors”
    They are not theoretical. about 60(?) are planned for deployment internationally already incl several for Saudi Arabia and South Africa etc.

    GenIV nuclear power plants (of which there are several types) are realistic proven energy options for the mix moving forward no less than solar and wind and geothermal and electric cars are part of the mix in a post2C world.

    Ignorance is no excuse for unfounded emotional beliefs nor denial of tech/science. That’s what agw/cc deniers do. :-)

  35. 185

    A 182: So call it wishful thinking, magical thinking or nuclear industry propaganda, but deploying theoretical 4th Gen nuclear reactors is certainly NOT among the realistic options available.

    BPL: I accept your hostility.

  36. 186
    Andrew says:

    #184 “The expert in everything” (including finance, climate science, nuclear reactor technology, history, sociology, etc, etc, etc)

    “Nothing can be done to stay below 2C. To believe otherwise is wishful thinking, magical thinking or anti-nuclear industry propaganda.”

    Stefan Rahmstorf and Anders Levermann:

    “In summary, declining carbon emissions after 2020 is a necessity for meeting the Paris temperature limit of “well below 2 degrees”.”

  37. 187
    Thomas says:

    Hey Andrew, don’t blame me, I’m just a humble messenger. It is what it is. Little known and rarely promoted but gen iv nukes are not theoretical. Even if most of the news worthy info mainly happens in chinese. :)

  38. 188
    mike says:

    Re: #173 t marvell
    “I see no realistic evidence that the world is dealing with global warming.”

    CO2 and CO2e continue to rise and there is ample reason to believe that the rate of increase is increasing. This is despite everything that has been said and done about dealing with global warming.

    I think the argument can be made that our species is aware of the problem and wants to avoid going over the carbon cliff, but if you just watch the CO2 and CO2e number continue to rise at over 2 ppm per year now, it is easy to conclude that we are not dealing with global warming.

    Dealing in this instance means reducing the accumulation of CO2 and CO2e in the atmosphere. Are we reducing the accumulation of CO2 and CO2e in the atmosphere? No. What causes global warming? Accumulation of CO2 and CO2e in the atmosphere.

    Warm regards

    Mike

  39. 189
    Thomas says:

    The GenIV HTR-PM meltdown proof IAEA approved nuclear unit is scheduled to begin operating later this year. (4 yrs construction time)
    A proposal to construct two 600 MWe HTR plants – each featuring three twin reactor and turbine units – at Ruijin city in China’s Jiangxi province passed a preliminary feasibility review in early 2015. The design of the Ruijin HTRs is based on the smaller Shidaowan demonstration HTR-PM. Construction of the Ruijin reactors is expected to start next year 2018, with grid connection in 2021. (3+ yrs construction time)
    China has signed agreements for HTGR/HTR-PM development with Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Indonesia, and the UAE.
    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-Fuel-loading-starts-at-Chinese-demonstration-HTGR-0704175.html

    This interest in small and medium nuclear power reactors is driven both by a desire to reduce the impact of capital costs and to provide power away from large grid systems.
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/nuclear-fuel-cycle/nuclear-power-reactors/small-nuclear-power-reactors.aspx

    Since the 2002 Generation IV selection process, significant changes in design philosophy have taken place, according to a 2015 report by Energy Process Developments Ltd (EPD). The first is to design simpler, less ambitious, molten salt reactors that do not breed new fuel, do not require online fuel reprocessing and which use the well-established enriched uranium fuel cycle. In this regard, both American researchers and the China Academy of Sciences/SINAP are working on solid fuel, salt-cooled reactor technology as a realistic first step into MSRs.
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/molten-salt-reactors.aspx

    So? In the short term this R&D will have no impact on rapid reductions of CO2e emissions globally. If these GenIV are to play a significant role in alt energy supply it will not occur for another 15-25 years – it depends on unknowables atm. Post 2030 is when today’s coal/gas fired plants will be under the most pressure to be shutdown en mass (assuming no CCS ensues at scale) and assuming increasing CO2e PPM despite alt renewable energy supply roll out at scale up to 2030.

    Potential benefits include the destruction of weapons grade/used fuel stocks for very safe storage, meltdown proof safety, low cost hydrogen fuel production for ICEs/fuel cells to replace oil/gas in transport, low cost constant energy for desalination plants (eg Saudi Arabia’s motivation), almost zero ongoing carbon emissions, small scale generation plants +600MWe for remote/regional locations and electricity grid stabilization as large fossil fuel units are decommissioned, plus modular design mass production capability and international deployment standards/efficiencies.

    eg any international agreement to finally ban and destroy all nuclear weapons systems, and/or the global decommissioning of GenIII/water cooled reactors on safety grounds would be a boon for HTGR/HTR-PM reactors.

    But, it all depends on what unpredictable events unfold in the next 10-15 years. And that’s unknowable, imho.

    Meanwhile I agree with – “I see no realistic evidence that the world is dealing with global warming.” (at a scale equivalent to the actual damage / harm being done.)

  40. 190
    Andrew says:

    Re: #188 Mike

    “Dealing in this instance means reducing the accumulation of CO2 and CO2e in the atmosphere.”

    For decades the widely used expression has been: “to reduce GHG emissions”.

    Which is exactly the matter of the 2015 Paris Agreement, and the matter of the article above by Stefan Rahmstorf and Anders Levermann.

    “I see no realistic evidence that the world is dealing with global warming.”

    Read the text of the Paris Agreement here:
    https://unfccc.int/files/meetings/paris_nov_2015/application/pdf/paris_agreement_english_.pdf

    In Particular Article 4:
    “In order to achieve the long-term temperature goal set out in Article 2, Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country Parties, and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science, so as to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century, on the basis of equity, and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.”

    Note the expression: “… to reach global peaking of GHG emissions as soon as possible…”.

    Are we reducing GHG emissions? In some countries, yes, in others, not so much, and yet in others, GHG emissions are still rising and have yet to peak. Which, again, is exactly the matter of the article above by Stefan Rahmstorf and Anders Levermann.

    So, you can recognize that global warming / climate change is being “dealt with”, at the international level and at the national level at least in some countries. Or you can shove your head in the sand and claim you can “see no realistic evidence that the world is dealing with global warming.”

  41. 191
    Andrew says:

    #187 “The expert in everything” (including finance, climate science, nuclear reactor technology, history, sociology, etc, etc, etc)

    “… I am just a humble messenger…”

    I think it is widely recognized here at Real Climate that humbleness is – oddly enough – NOT among your numerous areas of expertise, and your verborragic copy/pasting from world-nuclear.org – a nuclear industry propaganda website – is not helping change your reputation.

  42. 192
    Thomas says:

    yawn

  43. 193
    mike says:

    Andrew at 190

    It’s a round planet. Countries and agreements are one thing. CO2 and CO2e in the atmosphere are another.

    No changes that have been made to date have decreased the rate of increase in CO2e in the atmosphere. Talk is cheap. Here are the numbers and the numbers are unforgiving and hard to spin:

    July 2 – 8, 2017 407.99 ppm
    July 2 – 8, 2016 405.65 ppm
    July 2 – 8, 2005 385.26 ppm

    I don’t know whose head is in the sand. I guess it depends on what you think “dealt with” means. If the number continues to rise and the rate of increase is not dropping, then I think we have not dealt with the problem and we have had a lot of time to make changes, have we not? Slap a global carbon tax in place and I would agree that we have begun to deal with the issue. Otherwise and unless I see the rate of increase going in the right direction, no, it’s just talk.

    Cheers

    Mike

  44. 194
    t marvell says:

    190 – The Paris agreement, to date, is nothing more than words. As is well known, there is no enforcement mechanism. As is well known, CO2 levels continue to increase (although perhaps at a slightly lower rate this year). As is well known, the CO2 emission data are just claims by various countries. As is not so well known, higher CO2 levels lead to higher temperatures only after several decades. As is well known the oceans have a big role, and higher temperatures lead to more CO2 in the short run due to outgassing.
    Overall, therefore, there is no credible evidence that the world truly takes AGW seriously – by that I mean credible actions, not words.

  45. 195
    Digby Scorgie says:

    Andrew @190

    If one goes by the emissions reported by each country, action is occurring. If one goes by the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, no action is occurring. Unfortunately, it is the latter that counts, and this is what Mike is concerned about.

  46. 196
    Thomas says:

    Kevin anderson puts into perspective energy use, carbon budgets, equity, and the impossibility of building the way out of fossil fuel use, eg by expanding nuclear would require several thousand new units. see Kevin Anderson – The Ostrich or the Phoenix? @18:45 minutes
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpbfGaKp4K4&feature=youtu.be&t=18m45s

    The EIA of the US puts future fossil fuel use into perspective as well. see this 2015-2050table

    Total energy consumption increases by 10% to 106.7 Quads/Year
    Petroleum Oil increase 5%
    Natural Gas increase 25%
    Coal decrease 36%
    Total Fossil fuel use increases by 4.7%

    Nuclear decreases 23% down to 6.4 Quads
    Hydro / Biomass has small increases to 6 Quads.
    Renewable energy use increases from 2.64 Quads to 9.73 Quads or by 368%

    >b>So by 2050 the EIA forecasts Renewable Energy supply to be 9.1% of the total energy consumption of the United States.

    That’s 9.73 Quads versus 84 Quads from Fossil Fuel Carbon sources. Ummm? That doesn’t sound like much progress in rapidly reducing carbon emissions to me.

    So 35 years from now, in 2050 Fossil Fuels Use in the USA is forecast to be 78.7% of total energy use and still increasing!

    I do not know how these figures compare with the US Govt commitments made at Paris 2015.

  47. 197
    Andrew says:

    Some people here are trying their hardest to deny the obvious fact that for GHG concentrations to stabilize and then decrease, we need to peak GHG emissions as soon as possible and then decrease them as fast as possible, globally. In other words, exactly what the Paris Agreement states in Article 4 (see above) and exactly what the post above by Stefan Rahmstorf and Anders Levermann reminds us of.

    # 195 Digby
    “If one goes by the emissions reported by each country, action is occurring. If one goes by the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, no action is occurring. Unfortunately, it is the latter that counts, and this is what Mike is concerned about.”

    It’s OK to be concerned with the Keeling curve (I am too, like any other climate scientist or person concerned with AGW), but in terms of energy and environmental policies one can only act upon GHG emissions. And within the historical framework of our present civilization, one country cannot force public policies upon another country. This is why international agreements are needed and the reason why the Paris Agreement is so important.

    I would have thought people commenting here understood all that, but it seems not, at least for some.

  48. 198
    Al Bundy says:

    Thomas noted: Petroleum Oil increase 5%
    Natural Gas increase 25%
    Coal decrease 36%
    Total Fossil fuel use increases by 4.7%
    ——

    In other words, the happenstance that much of natural gas’ emissions aren’t counted since they are via leaks as opposed to burning enables humanity to pretend that there’s been some movement, but the facts are starkly clear: NOTHING has been done except rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic so that many of the chairs are behind a screen and so “don’t count”.

    Kind of like taking a gunshot victim, turning him over so the original wounds don’t show and then shooting him again with a smaller weapon while also poisoning him, and then crowing about how healthy the victim must surely be after your “work”.

  49. 199
    JR says:

    This was a truly terrible article. Inaccurate, presumptive and fanciful thinking (I’m being generous here).

    a) The alleged ‘landmark’ Paris Agreement has accomplished almost nothing in the real world.
    b) Current temperature increases have already exceeded 1.4C.
    c) Global emissions ‘peaking’ by 2020 is based on pure imagination (zero facts). No country on Earth is going to do this.
    d) Lag time temperature increases are uncounted and ignored.
    e) Critical tipping points have obviously already occurred.
    f) Fusion is imaginary salvation and does not address the energy consumption of civilization (perpetuates consumption).
    g) Warming ‘below 2C’ is factually not stoppable by any means.
    h) There is no carbon budget left – as accelerated warming factually demonstrates.
    i) It is not possible to meet the Paris temperature goals – and never was.
    j) Alternative energy creates carbon emissions too – perpetuating civilization’s consumption, growth, resource use. Alternative energy creation remains heavily reliant upon fossil fuels and always will.
    k) If this is the best ‘science’ can envision, we’re in severe trouble. This article is grossly inaccurate and misleading. Intentional? Ignorance? Naivety? Or?

    I fail to see the point to this article at all. It’s simply wrong – on every single point. Because it was written by scientist, this is truly alarming.

  50. 200
    mike says:

    A says at 197: “It’s OK to be concerned with the Keeling curve (I am too, like any other climate scientist or person concerned with AGW), but in terms of energy and environmental policies one can only act upon GHG emissions.”

    I like to keep it simple and just talk about CO2 or CO2e accumulation in the atmosphere. The things that our species can do to address with a calamitous rise of CO2e in the atmosphere are not limited to energy and environmental policies. Please review Scott Strough’s posts about carbon sequestration through changes in agriculture as one example.

    We face many challenges with the CO2e problem and it is far from certain that our species will handle the challenges and “deal” with the problem. It is true that over the past forty years or more that there has been a lot of discussion about the problem and how to deal with it. In the end, there is only one measure that matters and that is the accumulation of CO2e in the atmosphere. All the agreements and regional progress that can be negotiated mean nothing if this number continues to rise.

    We have a lot of work to do. If we are unable to bring the global CO2e number down as a planetary project of variable commitments, then the impacts of global warming will create great pressure on global food supplies and there will be a lot of climate refugees on the move from rising sea level, heat waves, etc. Some countries, organizations or even individuals may decide to embark on unilateral geoengineering “fixes.” Some countries etc. will act in generous ways and take in refugees and others will choose to build walls or otherwise fight off refugees. Conflict is usually pretty bad in terms of environmental impact.

    It really is important that all folks who are raising questions in good faith treat each other respectfully to increase the chance that we succeed in dealing with AGW and that we reduce the accumulation of CO2e in the atmosphere.

    You seem serious about the challenges. I wish you and yours well. I hope that time will move us to a spot where we might agree that we have dealt with AGW. Nothing would make me happier.