The new IPCC economic models

The new IPCC economic models show that economic growth is part of the solution

Story submitted by Tim Worstall

The IPCC has just released details of the economic models that are used to generate the emissions numbers for the climate change models. Whether or not we want to believe in climate change, think it’s all natural variation or are convinced that Armageddon is near at hand, the results are fascinating.

For the assumptions of the deeper greens are entirely refuted by what the IPCC themselves are saying. Economic growth is actually the solution to the perceived problems, not the cause. In the IPCC modelling the set up with the most economic growth has the least emissions.

Further, we don’t in fact need to reduce our energy consumption: again the model with the least warming still shows consumption near on doubling this century.

In fact, their models, recall, their own, the IPCC’s calculations, show that slower economic growth will lead to more warming.

There’s more on this at Forbes.


newest oldest most voted
Notify of

Tim makes a mistake that is easily made, indeed, one that is facilitated by the authors of the study. He compares across the RCPs, assuming that they are consistent with one another. They are not. The four RCPs were build with four different models. Comparing RCPs is thus meaningless.

This is something i’ve long argued. It turns out that the peak emissions level per dollar of GDP is when the per capita income is around $10,000 (1990 dollars).

Oh dear, so Greenstrife et al’s dream of a golden non-industrial future society is blown away by their own organisation …

Mike Jowsey

Uh huh – ya THINK ???
I don’t believe the Greenies are only just waking up to this paradigm….Is it that they are finally looking for a soft option out?


None of it would make anything other than a negligible difference to climate, of course, but it’ll be interesting to see the doublethink engaged in by certain NGOs to reconcile this with their prejudices.


Anything that expands freely, will sooner or later to be slowed down, and finally stopped (collapse) by their own (outer) limits, if no countermeasures are performed. (For example, the Soviet Union …)
Economic response to climate change falls under the epithet “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it …!”

John Marshall

OMG. The IPCC poking their already too long nose into something else they little understand.
The best solution to our economic woes is to shut down the IPCC AND the US EPA. Get a grip on the fact that climate is driven by natural events not some trace atmospheric gas and use the overtaxed fossil fuels, with taxes reduced to removed, and get competitive industry going again without the millstone of ‘green power’. China would find that to compete with a robust competitive West will take more than government control of industry and democratise as it should.
Two birds, one stone.

Stan Pederson

The article points out that economic growth will lead to lower increases in carbon emissions than low economic growth and offers the evidence of the IPCCs own data, and this on the assumption of a fossil fuels based economy. Then it slips in a promotion for a carbon tax at the end, with no evidence for it’s efficacy.
Dealing with climate change, formerly known as AGW, is not the point; getting the worldwide carbon tax instated is the point. The IPCC economic report (and the article perhaps) can be viewed as propaganda trying to placate those who worry that the the only way to reduce carbon emissions is to stone-age the economy. Logical contradictions abound, but the message is consistent: world government and world government taxes.

Alan Watt

As I believe the IPCC diagnosis of “the problem” is dubious in the first place, I don’t know how much credence anyone should place on their prescription for “the cure”. Mr. Worstall concludes his Forbes article with:
“Or as I pointed out at book length recently, a globalised market economy with a carbon tax will do just fine.”
If CO2 isn’t a problem, how would imposing a “carbon tax” have any beneficial effects? If we somehow decouple the imposition of a carbon tax from the rest of the eco-wacko agenda, the only thing it will accomplish is shifting energy use to lower-cost alternatives. But because the apparent “lower” cost is entirely the result of the tax, in effect we would be shifting energy use to *higher* cost alternatives.
This will impede economic growth, not foster it. The tax simply hides the fact that your economic system has become *less* efficient, while handing new money over to the very people who have proven they can waste it on a larger scale and with fewer consequences than any private enterprise.

Ed Walsh

Richard if “The four RCPs were build with four different models. Comparing RCPs is thus meaningless.”, then what is the point of them. If no comparissons can be made then what do we learn from this?


John Marshall theorizes
The best solution to our economic woes is to shut down the IPCC AND the US EPA.
Yeah sure. No numbers, just handwaving.
Go to China, look at the sky, breath the air, if you can. Watch Chinese people coughing and spitting to clear their throat, if there is no EPA this is what you get.

Alexander Duranko

Because of three major errors [‘back radiation’ is really Prevost exchange energy which can do no work, ‘cloud albedo effect’ cooling supposed to hide CO2-AGW is really heating, 80% of net CO2 increase is from warming seas and oceans], the true level of CO2-AGW is at most a tenth of the median level claimed by the IPCC and may well be net zero.
So, no climate model can predict climate. It’s time the IPCC was shut down for peddling junk science.

C Porter

They can only come to this conclusion because of the conclusion of another garbage non peer reviewed report from Greenpeace saying that 80% of energy supplies could be from renewable sources. If it makes them feel happy, let them believe this dross.

Ken Harvey

They already have one task for which they are not qualified but that does not daunt them from gratuitously taking on another for which they are also not qualified, and that one which currently has all of the experts in the field beaten. With such versatility perhaps they should be in charge of nuclear engineering development.


Are economic models any better than climate models?

This runs counter to actual history. The largest drop in real pollution happened when the Soviet Union collapsed. And the emissions graphs in one of yesterday’s stories show clearly that CO2 emission is perfectly and positively correlated with economic growth, in all types of countries.
You CAN have growth without adding real pollution, as the US demonstrated in the ’60s and ’70s, but you can’t have growth without adding CO2 emission.
Dust filters, SO2 scrubbers, and catalytic converters are relatively cheap and don’t stop economic activity. All attempts to slow down CO2 are economic stoppers. That’s their whole purpose, for heaven’s sake!


(SarcOn)”””””FLASH!!! The IPCC announced today that the ONLY way to save the planet is to grind all gold on Earth into a microfine dust powder and equally distribute it, from an altitude of 33.28 km, over the entire surface of the globe at precisely 03:36 GMT, 17 December 2014. Europe, Russia, Africa, Oceania, S.America, N.America, and SE Asia have all agreed to this bold, selfless plan and support it enthusiastically. The gold dust will, with the aid of natural lightning and Carbon Dioxide, convert and absorb ALL Manmade Global Warming chemicals produced in the last 16,526 +/- 294 years, and render the planet pollution free for a span of 389 +/- 16 years. CO2 levels are expected to be reduced to 1 part per trillion, a rather significant reduction indeed. Currently, China and India and OPEC countries are scheduled to hold popular elections regarding the surrender of personal and national stockpiles of Gold on 1 December 2014. The UNSecGen stated today that he “felt sure these countries would surely indever to persevier and make the best decision for the sake of all the World’s starving souls in search of enlightenment and a little fresh water to drink and some clean air to breathe and that, surely, the filthy British government would surely raise the benefits of the poor starving masses burning down London and Liverpool and….” (The SecGen is still speaking and be broke away to get this out ASAP).”””””
Expect nothing!
The Party’s over!
Time to pay The Piper!

“Renewable” fuel is not a panacea. Because of poverty, indoor smoke from wood cooking fires is the greatest cause of deaths for children under 5 at 2 million/year.
Amy Smith shares simple, lifesaving design
See Tom Reed’s ultra efficient clean woodgas stove with ~ 40% efficiency vs 10-12% for an open stove.
People need work and income to pay for the technology to have a clean environment and better health, separate from whether the fuel is “renewable”.


White flag.

Richard Tol says:
August 11, 2011 at 3:12 am
Tim makes a mistake that is easily made, indeed, one that is facilitated by the authors of the study. He compares across the RCPs, assuming that they are consistent with one another. They are not. The four RCPs were build with four different models. Comparing RCPs is thus meaningless.
Richard, you should read the link provided in the article. The RCPs are like numbers built with a common protocol. The concept of RCPs was brought about specifically for comparisons to other RCPs derived from various models. Start at section 2.

UN´s FAO has a more realistic forecast: Graph refers to temperatures up to the year 2100. This paper is actually and succesfully used by fishermen all over the world:
Find full paper in:
Graph in page 50 of :

Alan the Brit

Just hold chaps & chapesses, these are outer models we’re talking about. We have pretty much criticised these when they claimed armageddon scenarios for the future, that they are flawed, many seriously, yet they all apparently concluded that we’re all gonna die sooner rather than later! Now, either they have completely misread their original model output, accidently or deliberately or through ignorance, OR thye lied about them. SO, how do these models fare, are they trustworthy, are they reliable, have they any basis in reality? Remember Lehman Brothers used a model or two to predict economics of climate change 90 years from now & look what happened to them in less than two! Having said all that, it has been demonstrated that developed nations have lower over all Carbon Footprints than undeveloped ones, without the use of models. We also need to remove the deliberately insidious language of propaganda, from the whole issue asap. Phrases such as “the West’s “addiction” to fossil fuels”, with all the inherent associations of drug addiction, & “Carbon Pollution”, etc. Change the language change the process!.


Tim’s article sounds great, but his final conclusion is to support a carbon tax. How we arrive at that conclusion is somewhat vague.
Moving on to the “overview”, (published in Climatic Change) upon which his article is based, alarms are set off up front by use of the words “may” and “possible” in the first 2 sentences of the introduction. In the methodology description, it says the scenarios “should provide information on ALL” [my emphasis] “components of radiative forcing that are needed as input for climate modeling and atmospheric chemistry modeling,” but then it restricts “all” to “emissions of greenhouse gases, air pollutants and land use.”
It also says that “all RCPs include the assumption that air pollution control becomes more stringent, over time, as a result of rising income levels.” This is a deceptive assumption because it is regionally observed. Incomes increased in early-industrial U.S. and England, but pollution was tolerated until the populace was able to afford exporting that manufacturing to other places, first domestic, then foreign. Moving the pollution does not eliminate it.


And to think they did it all with a creditability rating of FFF !!

Pamela Gray

The EPA is still needed to keep real polluters, such as several along the Willamette River, from pouring mercury into our streams and rivers. It is still needed to keep gas stations and other types of fuel-based industries from pouring left overs into the ground. It is still needed to keep large feedlots from allowing filthy sludge to seep into ground water. It is still needed to keep our meat free of bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants. It is still needed to help us clean up after illegal pot operations in our forests and drug labs in our neighborhoods. And it is still needed to keep corporate farms from sending poisoned fruits and vegetables into our homes.
But what we can do to economize is to treat food, and air/water/ground polluters with the same disdain, penalties, and oversight. We have too many governmental agencies with too little funding and personnel to adequately keep us from getting sick.


So the IPCC now agree with what I think George W Bush said all along?


I’ve invested three hours and failed to find a WUWT article I think I have read. Maybe I’m going senile. In any case, I’m asking for some help from WUWT readers.
Can anyone give me the link I’m looking for? As I recall it, Anthony reposted a link originally produced in some other blog, that contained details of a poll about public perceptions about climate science. The poll asked people a few questions, including “what colour is carbon dioxide?”
All help appreciated, and I apologise for being off-topic.

Steve Oregon

Here in Oregon the alarmist left screws up eveything they touch. We’re the poster child for wrong and ridiculous.
The many causes throughout the spectum of the left that have hitched onto AGW are really similar causes in themselves. Based on lousy or no evidence while pushing for rememdies that have bo chance of arriving where they imagine. When failure ensues it’s because more of the same failed remedy is needed.
They are ike nitiwts driving to a destintion while never recognizing all the passing signs they are heading in the opposite direction.

Rob MW

Thanks very much for this news Tim. I just finished convincing the wife and kids that we had to start thinking about living in a cave, for the sake of the planet, and now you tell me I need to update to a fully modernised carbon integrated and intensive cave……………just bloody great, and, to make matters worse my new proposed sea level rise inspired water-side retirement home in the ‘Blue Mountains’ (NSW, Australia) may not now see the sea…….just bloody great./sarc on


The ‘senility’ possibility gains credibility due to my mis-spelling my own name in the e-mail address for my previous post. (Mutter, mumble, iPad keysize.) Could anyone who helps me please do so as a reply to THIS post, not the previous one.


We have long known that with economic prosperity birthrates decline and emissions are stabilized. This is what has happened in the G7 countries. Except for immigration many of these countries do not have birth rates sufficient to maintain their population.
Initially the G7 countries had high air pollution, as we seeing in India and China now. Then with prosperity they were able to afford improvement in air quality standards. Compare London today with the pea soup fog they used to get from air pollution. That wasn’t achieved by shutting down the economy. It was paid for by growing the economy.
The Al Gore’s of the world that continue to preach one set of policies for everyone else, while living that fat lifestyle ignore the most obvious of facts. You cannot make positive changes to the world unless you first come up for a way to pay for these changes.
Taxes alone cannot ever pay to change the world because the money must first be earned before it can be taxed. Only after governments provide economic growth can they use taxes to make a change. Otherwise the result will be crushing debt that destroys the prosperity needed to pay for change. This has been clearly demonstrated in both the US and Europe.


In the article: We know very well that there’s a connection between economic growth and population size. Richer countries on average have lower fertility rates so as the world becomes richer fewer children are born. Further, we don’t in fact need to reduce our energy consumption.
The political elite of the West have solved that problem by importing more poverty and higher birth rates to combat hard earned wealth in the West. And it has worked very well as the West goes down to poverty.
And the IPCC may be looking at loss of funding due to economic decline in the West. The bottom line can be a bitch.

Kent F

Worstal’s analysis, if correct, sounds to me like the IPCC is trying to make the alternative energy scam more palatable. It roughly boils down to, ‘You can be an AGW skeptic or a believer, keep on living well, as long as you subsidise all our inefficient power generation schemes to the eyebrows (and evermore redistribute your savings to all our UN mendicant countries).’


Over here in blighty we have just gone through protests about not being able to afford the latest trainers or mobile phone, I wonder what happens when they have to choose between food and heating this winter?
And the IPCC couldn’t find there arse with both hands. There answer is to push the price of energy up to un-affordable prices then turn round and say ‘Oh and by the way can we have as much growth as possible to save the planet please’ (At least there polite).


“Whether or not we want to believe in climate change (…)” What? What? Are we going to have to explain again that it’s not about believing in climate change or not (since it always does change, we all agree on this)? I’m tired of this problem, it’s all over the media… but here at WUWT?


Previous models woefully under predicted aerosol emissions by China’s growing economy, thus the lack of warming that we are seeing today and the falsification of their weather models.
Now we have more models showing accelerating economic growth, when the economic world is facing a potential implosion? I think the IPCC may actually serve a useful purpose as a contrarian indicator.

Dr Chaos

@Richard Tol
If the different categories were not meant to be compared, why did the authors place them on the same graph repeatedly, with nice colours, apparently inviting comparison?

Look, they are waking up to the fact that no one will accept living in a world with an even worse economy than the one we have now…. which is exactly what they previously wanted. Preaching that we have to slow economic growth doesn’t sound bad when we are in boom times, but when we’re in a Great Recession, and people realize how sucky that is, the “slow the economy down or we’re doomed” message is only going to further drive people away from the AGW camp. When we finally get some real economic growth (in a few years maybe) then you’ll see them reverse again and say “whoa, we need to slow this thing down”.
Cynical??? Yes! But they’ve earned it..


I thought this was going to be pics of Patchy’s kind of models. You know…………
Miss IPCC Patchy Morales 2011


Are economic models any better than climate models?
Actually economic models are much better at predicting the past than climate models (e.g. lack of Mideaval Warm period in some models). I do admit that predicting the future has not been the strong suit of either discipline.


What a stupid solution.

Of course. With no economic growth and no technological advancement The Great Horse-Manure Crisis of 1894 could not possibly have been overcome. We would indeed be doomed, our shining great cities buried under half a mile of horse manure. Could have been worse than we’d thought.


They may be on to something. Something that many have known for a long time, and is just basic common sense to the rest.
Ignoring the difference between local and global phenomena for the moment, you’ll universally notice that rich people live in clean, environments. Poor people, on the other hand, dump their garbage in their back yard. The objective is to make the poor people rich so they can spend more effort on a pleasant environment, rather that scrabbling around for clean water, a nourishing meal.and proper sanitation.
The best way to make poor people rich (however one may measure ‘richness’, and not only in monetary terms) is cheap and abundant energy. Raising the cost of energy has little effect on ‘the rich’ and drives the poor even deeper into the [snip] hole.


LazyTeenager says:
August 11, 2011 at 4:32 am
John Marshall theorizes
The best solution to our economic woes is to shut down the IPCC AND the US EPA.
Yeah sure. No numbers, just handwaving.
Go to China, look at the sky, breath the air, if you can. Watch Chinese people coughing and spitting to clear their throat, if there is no EPA this is what you get.

It’s a fallacy to believe that the only reason we have clean air or clean water is because of the force of government. We have these things because people want clean air and clean water.
The fact that the EPA is messing around with greenhouse gases tells us that has largely succeeded in achieving the things it was originally created to do. It’s no longer a necessary agency.
One could equally say “look at all the smog! We need the EPA.” Well then, why isn’t the EPA focusing on that? If their original mission isn’t completed, why are they seeking to expand into regulating other things?

It’s not news to me that it’s better to burn coal than people.
And the better the burning of the coal, the better it is for the people.

@James Sexton
Population, income, energy demand, energy use, and CO2 emissions come as a package (called a model). You can compare emissions and incomes for various scenarios in one model. And you can compare emissions and incomes between models for the same scenario. But you cannot vary model and scenario at the same time (and hope for meaningful results). The problem is just too non-linear, and the models are too different.
@Dr Chaos
I guess that the authors of the paper never thought that anyone would ever do what Tim did. They would not. People tend to assume that other people know what they themselves know.
@Ed Walsh
You can make first order comparisons (emissions v emissions) but no second order ones (emission intensities v emission intensities).


Just pay the carbon tax and everything will be fine.

John in L du B

So why the carbon tax?

John Howard

Pamela Gray says we need the EPA to keep us from getting sick.
The faith of the government-educated is a wondrous thing to behold. Imagine believing the general proposition that those who produce goods and services and offer them to us on the voluntary market are the baddies and that those who produce nothing and live off us by means of an extortion racket called taxation are the goodies who care for us. Imagine believing that someone showing you a product is dangerous and someone pointing a gun at you is your savior.
Imagine thinking that the unproductive slobs who claim to “serve” us won’t take bribes from those who wish to trade with us. Imagine thinking that producers are motivated to harm their customers while extortionists are motivated by altruistic concern for the welfare of their victims.
There have always been proper legal procedures to deter those who harm or threaten us. It is absurd to think we also need a tyrannical gang of parasitic nannies to control us all while they feed upon us. Faith in coercive power is truly a wondrous thing to behold. Fear of voluntary free trade is even more wondrous.


These economic models show what many ahve believed is the reality about environmental issues in general- that economic prosperity permits more effective environmental policies.
The problem is that the IPCC solutions to their CO2 obsession is in conflict with the economic study they have done.
The AGW believer community is going to minsinterpret (deliberately?) the acceptance by the skeptic community of the IPCC economic position as support for the idea that skeptics should accept all that the IPCC says.
The believer faith is so brittle and shallow that they are unable to accept the nuanced perspective of many skeptics, or even mild critics, of the AGWconesnsus.
so how to make clear that skeptics welcome the IPCC agreeins with skeptics regarding economics, we still have strong disagreements with the IPCC based on well founded concerns about the process, the quality of the work, the scale of the alleged CO2 crisis, and the evidence itself, among many other areas of concern.