Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Pielke fan club

Some new bunnies were wondering why Ethon and Eli are foundling members of the Pielke fan club. Dining at Prometheus we came upon this gem served up by the big liver hisself. Roger points to an interview in Der Spiegel (it's in English, and Eli rather suspects that the actual interview was also in English) of Shyam Saran, India’s climate treaty negotiator. RP not only quotes a small part of the interview but somehow, the honest broker forgets that your starting position is not the one you end up with. For Roger and friends the money quote is

the Prime Minister of India made a commitment that India’s per capita emissions will at no time exceed the average of the per capita emissions of developed, industrialized countries. We have thus accepted a limit on our emissions and at the same time provided an incentive to our partners in developed countries to be more ambitious. The more significant their reductions of emissions, the lower the limit we would need to accept for our own.
which is labelled as a hard line. Now you could take this as a hard line either way, e.g. we are not going to do anything, or a hard line the other way: you have to do some hard work too and we do also, but Roger is all about rushing the rubes. Readers of the interview and India's global climate change policy would recognize this. The whole interview should be read RTFR!! including
We have been able to deliver 8 to 9 percent economic growth with only a 3.7 percent increase in our energy consumption. It is our national goal to reduce, as quickly as possible, the use of fossil fuels per dollar of GDP by 25 percent.
There are still 400 to 500 million Indians who currently do not have access to commercial energy services. If their requirements could be met by solar power instead of carbon-based fuels, think of the contribution this would make in dealing with climate change.
concluding with
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Chancellor Merkel took Prime Minister Singh's suggestion and developed it further, suggesting that by 2050 every person on Earth should be allotted 2 tons of CO2 emissions. Is that realistic?

Saran: The science of climate change is still somewhat imprecise, and we need to conduct further studies to determine what a safe level of CO2 emissions we should be aiming at by 2050. But as a benchmark, Chancellor Merkel's proposition is certainly worth examining. To achieve this, very drastic emission reductions may be required among industrialized countries. For developing countries, their ability to undertake significant mitigation efforts would also require large financial and technological resource transfers. This is a tall order and is already under a cloud as a consequence of the global economic and financial crisis.



J. Zimmermann said...

The question of emission justice (I'm sorry, I think in English another word fits better for Emissionsgerechtigkeit), that is, everyone is alotted the just amount of destroying the earth, is a vastly growing area in the philosophical part of climate research. However, in my opinion a hard to deal with problem, because it doesn't fit to the pragmatics of world politics. Partly, you can't put countries which export much or have to deliver energy wasting materials like aluminum or oil on the same ground as watchmaker and banking countries like Switzerland or Luxemburg. It would help, to express emission targets on a per gross national product base instead of a per capita base, but this still has problems and would be very difficult for developing countries with low ratio of national income/ CO2-emissions like China, India or, (sorry) the USA. Perhaps, it would be a psychological marketing strategy, to rate development by the amount of CO2 needed for achieving an amount of national income. And it is still a question, why for the USA it could be a disaster, to reduce the energy consumption or greenhouse gas emissions by more than 40% to the level of France, Germany, Sweden, or Switzerland and thereby risking to lower the income by, er, 0 percent. I think, this high amount of economical risk doesn't give Pielke to sleep at nights.

David B. Benson said...

In 2050 CE, 9 billion people. At 2 tonnes of CO2 per head, that's 18 billion tonnes of CO2.

In 2007 CE, the best estimate of carbon added to the active carbon cycle is 8.5 billion tonnes from fossil fuels and 1.5 billion tonnes from deforestation; 10 billion tons in all. Tha's (44/12)x10 = 36.7 billion tonnes of CO2.

So Merkel's goal is about half of current emissions; aim't enough. For we currently cause concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere to go up 2+ ppm per year. Have of that is still 1 ppm per year.

Don't have to go far back on the Keeling curve to find that.

Since we need negative emissions, i.e., carbon removal to have a safe climate, we need something close to

-1 tonnes per head per year.

That'll only take 86 years or so to reach a safe level? Nope, twice that long, maybe a bit longer than that.

Hank Roberts said...

Best sense I've found on this is from

Hank Roberts said...

Worth a quote from a story about EcoEquity (this and more links at their site):

"If the US and Europe and Australia and Japan and the rest of the developed world was wiped off the face of the Earth, if their greenhouse gas emissions magically dropped to zero and the emissions trajectories of the large developing countries did not change, it would barely delay the reckoning," he said.

EcoEquity has devised an index that incorporates every country's responsibility for pollution and its ability to pay to cut emissions and cope with climate change damage. The index takes into account the divide between rich and poor inside a country and between countries.

On that basis, Australia was responsible for 1.64 per cent of the total global obligation to pay for climate change, compared with 31.6 per cent for the US, 4.1 per cent for Britain and 9 per cent for China.

British economist Sir Nicholas Stern has estimated the cost to cut emissions to safe levels represented about 1 per cent of global gross domestic product each year. That would equate to a bill for Australia of about $US10 billion ($11.65 billion) or only $571 per person.

The costs of adaptation must be added to that, but even then it would probably be only about the same amount of money the world spends on defence .....

EliRabett said...

True Hank, but that ignores the sunk emissions over the last 100 years.

Hank Roberts said...

Which 'that' ignores those, Eli?

EcoEquity's 'responsibility' number doesn't ignore the past emissions.

But the past rate of fossil fuel use for development was slow -- the 'first half' up to 1970, right?

The 'second half' was up to, what, about 2000 -- that was us overdeveloping wastefully and some new countries starting.

'Responsibility' includes the past - the US gets over 30 percent of that, China gets 9 percent.

The thing about sunk costs is, as far as I know, only a few primate species ever fail to ignore them (that's how the monkey trap works, the nut in the narrowmouth bottle, also seen in the stock market ...).

But sunk costs have to be ignored when calculating consequences of present actions.

Help me out here if I'm missing a point. If EcoEquity's numbers look wrong to you I'll point them to your comments.

Anonymous said...

I don't give a damn about esoteric climate concerns that icecaps will melt, when compared to people crapping in huts with no electricity.

Hank Roberts said...

To your health, TCO!

Now, about people crapping in huts without electricity while standing in rising salt water, what's the issue?

Bottoms up, right?

Hank Roberts said...

Monty Python, the Rabbit sketch

Anonymous said...

There's also the much worse problem of people hutting in craps. You really need an alley.

TokyoTom said...

Eli, it's pretty clear from the inerview that India is not willing to commit to actually turning down its CO2 emissions, but only to gradually slowing the rate of increase in growth, for which it has its hands out for (and is establishing "principles" for) alot of money and technology transfers.

IOW, I'm not sure why you are attacking Roger on this one. Indi, China and other developing nations are obviously tough cases.

Hank Roberts said...

So, Eli, I asked one of the EcoEquity guys if I'd represented them right and he said it looked OK. Can you look again and see if you think they're omitting something?

India and China and the even-less-likely-to-be-developed nations are tough. If you see something really being ignored in EcoEquity's attempt to say what's fair, help me out here?
I'd like to sort this out.

EliRabett said...

Consider water quality. Let's say that a bunch of people are using a river. All of them are dumping the crap from their grass huts into the river, but one of them has a very large horse that he uses to plow and get richer than everyone else. Lately he has figured out that he can give the horse to a neighbor, not have to deal with the horse crap himself, but get grain in return, but an awful lot of the sunk horsecrap comes from that guy

All the kids are coming down with some loathsome crap disease and the guy who owns the horse says he won't do anything unless the guy who he rents the horse to cleans up his act and everyone else stops crapping before he does.

You think that gets something besides an axe through the head?

The sunk costs have another dimension besides economic and the issue is not to maximize investment but to deal with the crap.