Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
There has been some discussion over the years regarding Tom Wigley’s 1998 estimate that even if Kyoto were to be 100% successful in meeting its targets, it would only have reduced temperatures by an estimated 0.05 degrees Celsius by 2050. Since Wigley was and is a strong supporter of Kyoto, this was a significant admission. Kyoto has been a crazy waste of money, Kyoto nations have spent billions and billions of dollars on the off-chance of cooling the earth by an amount too small to be measured …
Despite that 1998 calculation of a massive lack of cooling even if Kyoto were successful, the party-goers attending the latest climate carnival in Durban all seem to want to give us a brand new Kyoto II. They want a bigger and better and more binding brand new supersized Kyoto. Since the old Kyoto, even if successful in reducing emissions, cost hundreds of billions and delivered no measurable change in temperature, I’m unclear why a Kyoto ten times that big would be of interest to anyone.
But was Kyoto even successful in reducing emissions? Here’s a chart from Der Spiegel:
Figure 1. Per capita emissions in 2010 (red bars) and changes in per capita emissions since 1990 (arrows) for selected countries and the 27 countries of the European Union (EU27). Germany benefitted greatly in CO2 emission terms from the post-1990 reunion with East Germany, so it basically got a free pass and decreased the most. SOURCE Der Spiegel
With the emissions from China and India going through the roof, whatever the industrialized nations do is meaningless. But here’s the real oddity of the graph.
The entire goal of Kyoto was to drop total country emissions (not per capita emissions) to 1990 levels. Since the population has gone up since 1990, to drop total emissions back down to 1990 levels means that per capita emissions have to drop even further, to well below 1990 levels. Kyoto was supposed to encourage the EU folks to undertake some serious reductions of emissions.
But at the end of the day, despite all of the noise and all of the fury, the US did a better job at reducing per capita emissions (down 14% compared to the 1990 values) than the EU27 did (down 12% compared to the 1990 values).
It is also interesting to compare the absolute values of the changes. In the EU27 with Kyoto, the emissions dropped since 1990 by 1.1 tonnes per capita. Remember that this includes Germany, which artificially decreased the average emissions. Bear in mind as well that one effect of Kyoto was to move energy-intensive industries outside the EU27, which also artificially decreased emissions.
In the USA without Kyoto, emissions dropped since 1990 by more than twice as much, a reduction of 2.8 tonnes per capita. The US had no Kyoto incentives and punishments, didn’t drive out energy-intensive industry, and despite all of that had larger emission reductions, both in absolute and in percentage terms, than the EU27. Go figure.
Meanwhile, Chinese emissions went up, not down but up, by a whopping 4.6 tonnes per capita … and there’s a whole lot more capitas in China than there are capitas in the US and EU27 combined. China by itself wiped out all the gains of the EU27, and all the gains of the US, and turned them all into a net increase. And that’s just China, doesn’t include Brazil and India and all the rest of the developing world.
So the Kyoto Protocol, which was confidently forecast by its supporters to make an unmeasurably small difference in reducing temperature if it succeeded in reducing emissions, was also a failure at reducing emissions. The EU couldn’t
Can we now please throw the whole “let’s cut emissions” approach, involving emission goals and cap-and-trade and and “Clean Development Mechanisms” and carbon offsets and “renewable energy quotas” and carbon taxes on the scrap heap of history? Can we agree that not only was Kyoto meaningless regarding the temperature, it was also meaningless regarding CO2 emission reduction?
Dream on … the answer to “What didn’t Kyoto do?” is “It didn’t do anything but cost money”, but that will never stop its supporters. The only good news is, at this point in the century nobody can afford it, so I think Kyoto II is DOA.