Diving into the Deeps of Decarbonization

[UPDATE: Comment from Anthony: There has been a tremendous amount of discussion and dissent on this topic, far more than I ever would have imagined. On one hand some people have said in comments that Willis has completely botched this essay, and the Kaya identity holds true, others are in agreement saying that the way the equation is written, the terms cancel and we end up with CO2=CO2. It would seem that the cancellation of terms is the sort of thing that would rate an “F” in a simple algebra test. But, I think there’s room for both views to be right. It seems true that *technically* the terms cancel, but I think the relationship, while maybe not properly technically equated, holds as well. Here is another recent essay that starts with Willis’ premise, where CO2=CO2 and expounds from there. See: What is Kaya’s equation?

Further update (modified 3AM 7/12/14): Willis has posted his response in comments, and due to my own travels, I have not been able to post it into the body of the message until several hours later, see it below. – Anthony]

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

pathways to deep decarbonizationAnother day, another new piece of mad garbage put out by the UN. It’s called “pathways to deep decarbonization”, all in lower case (8 Mb PDF). Their proposal is to get CO2 emissions down to zero.  I didn’t get far into it before I cracked up laughing and lost the plot.

It starts with the following definition:

Deep decarbonization requires a very significant transformation of energy systems. The ultimate objective of this transformation is to phase out fossil fuel combustion with uncontrolled CO2 emissions. Only fossil fuels in conjunction with CCS [carbon capture and storage] would remain.

But that wasn’t the funny part. That was just depressing. The funny part came later.

Now, out here in the real world the most charitable way to describe this lunacy of forcing the nations of the world to give up fossil fuels is to … to … well, now that I think about it, there is no way to describe this as anything but a pathetic joke which if implemented will cause untold economic disruption, disaster, and death.

In any case, in order to figure out how to “phase out fossil fuel combustion”, they go on to describe what they call the “principal drivers” of CO2 emissions, viz:

The simplest way to describe the deep decarbonization of energy systems is by the principal drivers of energy-related CO2 emissions—for convenience, since the focus of this chapter is on energy systems, we simply refer to them as CO2 emissions. CO2 emissions can be expressed as the product of four inputs: population, GDP [gross domestic production] per capita, energy use per unit of GDP, and CO2 emissions per unit of energy:

CO2_{emissions} = Population * \frac{GDP}{Population} * \frac{Energy}{GDP} * \frac{CO2_{emissions}}{Energy}

That was where I lost it …

Now, at first glance that looks kind of reasonable. I mean, emissions must go up with population and with GDP per capita, and go down with energy efficiency.

Here’s why I laughed. Lets apply the usual rules of math to that equation. We know that if a variable occurs both on the top and bottom of a fraction, we can cancel it out. Starting from the left, Population on the top cancels Population on the bottom. Then GDP on the top cancels GDP on the bottom. Then Energy on the top cancels Energy on the bottom … and we’re left with …

CO2_{emissions} = CO2_{emissions}

Pretty profound, huh? CO2 emissions are equal to CO2 emissions. Who knew?

OK, now let’s build their equation back up again. But instead of using gross domestic production (GDP), we’ll use gross beer production (GBP) instead.

CO2_{emissions} = Population * \frac{GBP}{Population} * \frac{Energy}{GBP} * \frac{CO2_{emissions}}{Energy}

Note that this is identical to and equally as valid as their whiz-bang equation, in that it simplifies down to the same thing: CO2 emissions = CO2 emissions.

And as a result, the clear conclusion from my analysis is that the best way to fight the evil menace of CO2 is to figure out a way to make beer using less energy …

Now, there’s a carbon reduction program I could get behind.

Best wishes to all,


The Usual Request: If you disagree with someone, please quote the exact words you disagree with. This prevents misunderstandings, and lets us all understand your objection.

PS—Due to a cancelled flight, I’m stuck here in a hotel in LA on my way back from the Ninth International Climate Change Conference, which I’ll write about another time, and sitting in my hotel room wishing I were home. Not much to do but read boring UN documents … at least this one was funny.

PPS—Although it’s not mentioned in the document, their goofy equation is known as the “Kaya Identity“. Apparently, the number of innumerate people on the planet is larger than I had feared.


Willis Eschenbach says:

Well, yesterday was a long day. Up early to get to the airport, and this time the flight actually flew. Go deal with the rental car. Roll on home.

Then change clothes, I’d spent the night without luggage. Hang out with the gorgeous ex-fiancee and catch up. Put in a load of wash. Put the trash in the trash bin, the recyclables in their bin, the kitchen scraps in the garden waste bin. Roll all three of them up the driveway to the street. Unpack. Pack. Wash the dishes. Make coffee. Scrub the toilet.

Then when I got around to opening up my computer in the afternoon, after waking up from its normal sleep and running for about 15 minutes … it died. Dead. As in when I turned it on, It ran for about 5 seconds, and croaked …

So … that meant another 45 minute drive to the “local” Apple store. It also meant about an hour’s worth of waiting for an appointment. Then another three hours while they worked on the machine before finally getting It to run again. Net result?

It’s now 10 PM, and I’m back where I was last night … on line again. Oh, and a couple hundred bucks lighter.

Anyhow, that was how my day went. I hope Bart had more fun than I did.

Regarding the comments, I’m overjoyed that there is much discussion of the issue. My point, albeit poorly expressed given some of the comments, was that since the Beer Identity Is equally as true and valid as the Kaya Identity, it is obvious that we cannot use the Kaya Identity to “prove” anything.

So yes, the Kaya Identity is true, but trivially so. We cannot depend on it to represent the real world, and it can’t show us anything.

For example, folks upstream said that we can use the Kaya Identity to show what happens if the GDP per capita goes up by say 10%. According to the Kaya Identity, emissions will also go up by 10%.

But according to the Beer Identity, if Gross Beer Production per capita goes up by 10%, then CO2 emissions have to go up by 10% … and we know that’s not true. So clearly, neither identity can serve to establish or demonstrate anything about the real world.

What I tried to say, apparently unsuccessfully, is that by itself, the Kaya Identity cannot demonstrate or show or prove anything about the real world. If there is anythlng true about it, that truth must exist outside of the Kaya Identity. Otherwise the Beer Identity would be a valuable guide to CO2 emissions … but we know that’s not true.

Finally, l hear rumblings that Anthony shouldn’t have published this piece of mine. This totally misunderstands Anthony’s position in the game. The strength of WattsUpWithThat is not that it is always right or that it publishes only the best stuff guaranteed to be true.

The beauty and value of WUWT that it is the world’s premier location for public peer review of climate science. On a personal level, WUWT is of immense use to me, because my work either gets falsified or not very quickly … or else, as in this case, there’s an interesting ongoing debate. For me, being shown to be wrong is more valuable than being shown to be right. If someone can point out my mistakes, it saves me endless time following a blind alley.

And indeed, there is much value in the public defenestration of some hapless piece of bad science. It is as important to know not only which ideas are wrong but exactly why they are wrong. When Anthony publishes scientific claims from the edges, generally they are quickly either confirmed or falsified. This is hugely educational for scientists of all kinds, to know how to counter some of the incorrect arguments, as well as giving room for those unusual ideas which tomorrow will be mainstream ideas.

So it is not Anthony’s job to determine whether or not the work of the guest authors will stand the harsh light of public exposure. That’s the job of the peer reviewers, who are you and I and everyone making defensible scientific comments. Even if Anthony had a week to analyze and dissect each piece, there’s no way that one man’s wisdom can substitute for that of the free marketplace of ideas … which is why it’s not his job. Bear in mind that even with peer review, something like two-thirds of peer reviewed science is falsified within a year. And Anthony is making judgements publish/don’t publish on dozens of papers every week.

So please, dear friends, cut Anthony some slack. He’s just providing the arena wherein in 2014 we practice the blood sport of science, the same sport we’ve had for a few hundred years now, ripping the other guys ideas to bits, also known as trying to scientifically falsify another person’s claims that you think don’t hold water. It is where we can get a good reading on whether the ideas will stand up to detailed hostile examination.

It is not Anthony’s job to decide if mine or any other ideas and expositions and claims will wtthstand that test … and indeed, it is often of value for him to publish things that will not stand the test of time, so that we can understand exactly where they are lacking.

So please remember, Anthony is just providing the boxing ring. It is not his job to predict in advance who is going to win the fight. His job is to fill the cards with interesting bouts … and if this post is any example, he is doing it very well.

Best to everyone,



And a final update from Anthony:

While Willis wants to cut me some slack, and I thank him for that, I’m ultimately responsible for all the content on this website, whether I write it or not. While some people would like nothing more than to have content they deem “wrong” removed, such things generally present a catch-22, and cause more problems than they solve. Of course some people would be pleased to have WUWT disappear altogether. Some days, I’m one of them, because it would allow me to get my life back.

The value is being wrong is learning from it. If you don’t learn from it, then being wrong deserves every condemnation thrown at you. I plan on being wrong again, maybe as soon as today, though one never knows exactly when your training and experience will lead you down the wrong path. In this case I was wrong in thinking that this simple terms cancellation argument pretty much made the Kaya identity useless. I’m still unsure how useful it is, or whether its usefulness is mainly scientific or political, but rest assured I now know more than I ever thought I would know about it, and so do many of you. And there’s the value.

I thought this was relevant, and worth sharing:

“For a scientist, this is a good way to live and die, maybe the ideal way for any of us – excitedly finding we were wrong and excitedly waiting for tomorrow to come so we can start over.”  ― Norman Maclean

Thanks for your consideration – Anthony Watts


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Notice how they emphasize Population. Well, would that not indicate what they believe is the biggest problem? And the solution is of course to make the biggest problem smaller. I wonder what their plan is?

Too funny. The UN and the eco-freaks are gripped by madness. Decarbonization is impossible unless we are prepared to forego air transport and international trade of any kind, to say nothing of modern economies. And for what? To solve a non-existent problem!

4 eyes

Their equation is OK. So is yours Willis but yours will only work out the amount of CO2 emitted from producing beer. The GDP variable is meant to include everything that can possible produce CO2 including beer.
It could be written :
CO2 emissiions = Sum of [CO2 emissions for beer + CO2 emissions for transport + CO2 emissions for growing food + CO2 emissions for everything else]
anf if the equation doesn’t show CO2 emissions = CO2 emissions i.e. the same units then there is a problem


If carbon dioxide is ‘carbon’ then that makes water ‘oxygen’.

Ask Holdren.

Travis Casey

Nobody ever mentions all the CO2 in beer and soft drinks. There are other example of course. It’s worse than we thought.

4 eyes

I do think the UN’s target is laughable. Maybe in 300 years or so zero CO2 emissions will be achievable butI still don’t understand why they want zero CO2 emissions.

Joe Prins

Now that is, sadly, funny.lol

Willis Eschenbach

4 eyes says:
July 9, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Their equation is OK. So is yours Willis but yours will only work out the amount of CO2 emitted from producing beer. The GDP variable is meant to include everything that can possible produce CO2 including beer.

Sorry, 4 eyes, but neither equation can “work out the amount” of anything. All either one can do is prove that CO2 emissions = CO2 emissions.


Nice, ye olde math move to see if you’re going to end up with the units you want to end up with.


Of course if we take Willis’s final equation and divide though by CO2 emissions we of couse get the very useful identity of
I hear the sounds of millions of heads shaken in disbelief all over the planet.


I am pretty sure it was Einstein who said ‘everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”. He was referring to reduction of mathematical formalae, but the UN demonstrates its mindset…WE are all ‘population’ and we are the evil doers that need to be ‘reduced’.
The sooner these clowns are de-funded and gone…the better.


The point of equations is that one side equals the other. That’s what an equals sign means.
Momentum = mass x velocity. Cancelling out variables we get momentum = momentum. As we should.
The point of the Kaya Identity (Identity, as in being the same thing) is that it allows us to figure out what effect a 10% growth in population will have, all other things being equal. And how much energy efficiency we would need to cancel out a given GDP growth.
It’s no use in using it in relation to a zero carbon future, of course, since only by getting CO2 emissions per unit of energy equal to zero can we get CO2 emissions down to zero, which is rather obvious. It’s a tool used by those who actually want to rationally look at reducing carbon emissions without ruining the economy. And it shows it is more or less impossible with modern (and foreseeable) technology.

Kevin Schurig

Just when you thought a group couldn’t get any dumber…. I want to know many tax dollars(or whatever currency was used) went into developing this charlie foxtrot of a formula.

david gould

sin/cos = tan, because sin = opp/hyp, cos = adj/hyp and tan = opp/adj
You could say that sin/cos = tan is simply an equation showiing that tan is equal to tan. And you would be right – that is what the ‘equals’ sign means, in reality. But the fact that sin/cos = tan is still useful; in fact, the reason it is useful is that tan indeed equals tan.
By the way, I am pretty near to conceding our bet on Arctic sea ice. I do not think that there is any way that extent will fall to less than a million this melt season. If you need to contact me with collection details, you can do so through
(I have line separated the address in an attempt to foil spammers)


Well done Willis.
An old friend once told me that civilization was invented to make beer. Think about it, you can grow gain to feed people on small plots of land but to grow enough grain to make beer … well that takes organization.

John Law

There are ways of very effective population reduction, requiring only “Jackboots and Thugs”. We had a dry run in the 1930’s/ 1940’s. The plan just needs dusting off and suitable groups identified for the first tranches. We just need an assessment of which ethnic groups are most carbon intensive (or who we don’t particularly like).
It really is difficult to distinguish modern ecoloons from fascists!


Another Devious aspect from this report:
Page 21 of the SDNS report: “(5.2.2) Levels of per capita emissions by 2050 as a bench mark, not as a target”.
Page 28 of the report (figure 6.3):
India……….2……… 4
China……. 7……… 5
India gets screwed through fantasy figures from 2050 while China can get away with CO2 “murder”. Real numbers – 2010 – do not count.

Peter Sable

as many have pointed out, the equation is wrong if the units aren’t the same on both side of the equation…this is how I verify all sorts of equations starting with analytical chemistry to name-an-engineering field. (matching units on either side of the equals sign are another “necessary but not sufficient” type of condition for equations).
I’ve caught many an engineering mistake by verifying the units are the same on both sides.
Willis you are chasing the wrong thing here…

The whole UN / Bankster “Environmental” drive is a depopulation project, plain & simple, & the motivation is not sustainability, it’s control.
Google the Georgia Guidestones : carved in 8 languages, both sides of 4 huge granite standing stones is the prime object : “Maintain the Earth’s population under 500 million”
These stones, 110 tons, including a capstone, are precisely aligned with the heavens, & were erected in the 80s & paid for by “A Christian”, in cash. They are the 10 commandments of The New World Order.
Simple maths 500 million remaining from a present population of ~7 billion = do away with 13 out of 14 of us.
& they’ve a fair good start. Get hold of a copy of Michael Crichton’s best seller ‘State of Fear’, dealing with the start of the global warming scam. Page 579 of 717 ( in my paperback edition ) he deals with the banning of DDT. June 1972 Ruckelshaus, new head of the EPA, banned DDT as carcinogenic. It wasn’t. Extensive tests had been done, people had ate it for 2 years, for the Sweeny Commission, which had reported DDT as safe 2 months previously, April 1972.
Ruckelshaus never bothered to read the Sweeny report.
Since the DDT ban, deaths from malaria shot up from ~50,000 pa to ~ 2 million pa. That’s ~ 80 million deaths, mostly children in the third world, more than Hitler killed, more than Mao & Stalin.
Ironically, DDT was never officially banned. Third World leaders were told, “keep ordering DDT, you’ll get no more foreign aid” Foreign aid is bribery to foreign “leaders” to allow the slaughter of their own people, & it works the exact same way here in the UK.
Crichton references Wildavsky, Aaron: But is it True? A Citizen’s Guide to Environmental Health & Safety Issues. Cambridge : Harvard University Press, 1994 (or 95)
25 pages on DDT, with sections on Alar, Love Canal, the ozone hole, global warming & acid rain.
“Environmentalism” is for genocide.


Seriously Peter, you’ve never simplified an equation? Obviously the units are the same if CO2=CO2 but it’s still an assnine equation.

richard verney

Nature has already solved the carbon capture issue. It is called trees.
Simply create a new carbon net sink by say foresting an area of scrub land.
IF one is concerned about CO2 and wants to control its emissions, we can continue to use fossil fuels provided that we at rthe same time create new carbon sinks.
Obviously switching from coal to gas would be sensible as can be seen from the US, which is the only developed country that has managed a ‘worthwhile’ reduction in CO2 emissions brought about its exploitation of its shale gas reserves and switching energy production away from coal to the newly sourced gas.
Presently the drive towards renewables has resulted in all but no reduction in CO2 emissions, due to the intermittent nature of renewables, and the need for conventionally powered back up which conventionally powered back up is not used at full capacity. The stop/start ramping up and ramping down of conventionally powered back up generators, creates nearly as much CO2 emissions as would have been the case had these conventional powered back up generators not been used as back up, but instead been used for base load (without any renewable energy involvement)..


On the Wikipedia page about the Kaya Identity is a link to an online simulation here
and from there is a link providing an overview and source code for the simulation here http://climatemodels.uchicago.edu/kaya/kaya.doc.html
Might give an insight into how it is intended to work.
The other thing is its an identity, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_(mathematics)
which means you get the same result no matter what values are entered. Sounds like a certain hockey stick.


” Geoffrey says:
July 9, 2014 at 10:39 pm
If carbon dioxide is ‘carbon’ then that makes water ‘oxygen’.”
Oh dear… you had a 50:50 chance – and f*ed it up.
If carbon dioxide is carbon, that would make water hydrogen by that logic.

Willis Eschenbach

Mooloo says:
July 9, 2014 at 10:58 pm

The point of equations is that one side equals the other. That’s what an equals sign means.
Momentum = mass x velocity. Cancelling out variables we get momentum = momentum. As we should.

Say what? Since each variable only appears once, you cannot cancel out anything.
On the right side of their equation, on the other hand, each variable appears both on the top and on the bottom so they can be cancelled out.

The point of the Kaya Identity (Identity, as in being the same thing) is that it allows us to figure out what effect a 10% growth in population will have, all other things being equal. And how much energy efficiency we would need to cancel out a given GDP growth.

Mathematically, the Beer Identity and the Kaya Identity both are totally equivalent, because they reduce to CO2 emissions = CO2 emissions, and both are equally valid.
So would you say that the Beer Identity allows us to figure out what effect a 10% growth in beer production will have on the emissions of CO2? Because according to the equations, a 10% growth in beer production will have the same effect as a 10% growth in GDP …


Good One Willis!
Algebra can be so enlightening!
30 Gigatons = 30 Gigatons…. Oh, the humanity!
A=A… How much more profound can you get!
Why do people still take the UN seriously?


Er Matt, Co2, 2 parts oxygen to 1 part CARBON, H2o, 2 parts hydrogen to 1 part OXYGEN


Where do the volcanoes and forest fires fit in the equation?


This is an “identity, an equation that holds by definition and is always true. I don’t think it is fair to ridicule it. Identities are widely used in economics and econometrics and actually quite useful, like for analyzing economical data.
The Kaya Identity is commonly used in climate/energy economics (just ask Roger Pielke jr.) for analysis purposes. The reason is that the expressions on the right hand side are well known and widely used economic indicators: population, economic growth (= GDP/population), energy efficiency of your economy (energy/GDP), and emissions per unit of energy produced (emissions/energy)
So, based on the identity, possibilities to reduce CO2 emissions could be achieved by reducing population, reduce economic growth, increase energy efficiency or decrease the amount of CO2 emissions per unit of energy produced.
The first one, reduce population, is simply a No-No, in particular if one wants to achieve drastic emission reductions. By the way, by way of the Kaya Identity, China has argued that its one-child policy has thereby helped reducing CO2 emissions.
The second one – reduce economic output/growth – is in a democratic society very unlikely to be achievable, as those who propose it simply will be voted out of office: few people are willing to drastically reduce their welfare and prosperity. It is what Roger Pielke jr calls the Iron Law of Climate Policy.
The third one – increase energy use efficiency – has some merits but there are clear (physical) limits to what can be achieved by more efficient energy use.
Which leaves the fourth one – which is the so-called decarbonization – that is to reduce the amount of emission per unit of energy production. And so “everybody” is looking for ways to decarbonize, for example by “renewable” energy like wind and solar etc., or by capturing and storing the emissions.
In terms of analyzing data, if I recall correctly, Roger Pielke jr once discussed what countries had been able to decarbonize their economies faster than the global average over the last 35 years or so. The global economy has been decarbonizing “naturally” via economic growth (more efficient use of energy can be an advantage over your competitors). He mentioned that only the UK, Ireland, France, Sweden and Belgium had been able to decarbonize their economies faster than the global average since the 1970s or so.
Why? Well, the UK and Ireland had gotten rid of most of their energy intensive energy (de-industrialization), France had massively switched to nuclear, Sweden had switched to nuclear as well as some renewables (hydro and biomass), in part because there are few Sweeds but lots of water and trees in Sweden. Belgium did both (get rid of energy intensive industry and switch to more nuclear). Note that biomass can only be considered CO2 emission neutral in the long run, as that is when the emitted CO2 can be stored, whereas on the short run it actually increases CO2 emissions as the energy density of biomass is much less than that of fossil fuels.
Surprisingly enough, both Denmark and Germany did not decarbonize much faster than the global average, despite massive subsidies for solar and wind.
So, what does that tell us about the practical sides of decarbonizing your economy? Well, exporting your energy intensive industry elsewhere does not really solve the problem. Stuff still has to be made, so it simply moves your problem elsewhere (sort of a book-keeping thick). Renewables may help a little bit but apparently only under certain conditions, and there are only few countries where these conditions are met. Which leaves only nuclear as a “proven” technology to decarbonize your economy.

In summary, the Kaya Identity helps putting things in perspective.
Lots and lots more has been said and written about this, a Google search will get you plenty of hits and documents.

Another Ian

Then there is this find of Hilary’s
“The UN Charter does not specifically mention the environment or sustainable development. However, there has been increased activity in the area over the years.”
More at


Momentum = mass x velocity
@mooloo here is the difference
mass = 2
vel = 2
what is momentum you have an answer correct?
now replace every variable except CO2 emissions with the value 2. Solve for CO2. Answer is 1. Do it again use 7. Answer = 1. Again using any number or combination of numbers answer =1
put 7 into first equation answer is 49.
one equation gives a useful answer one does not.

Greg Goodman

Hoser says:
July 9, 2014 at 10:31 pm
Notice how they emphasize Population. Well, would that not indicate what they believe is the biggest problem? And the solution is of course to make the biggest problem smaller. I wonder what their plan is?
Yes, that would seem to be what this is trying to communicate. So “deep decarbonisation” means “deep depopulation”. I assume the greens will be the first to step up to the plate and offer themselves and their children to be sacrificed for the greater good of GAIA.
Or maybe they’ll decide that they, morally and intellectually superior beings, need to stick around to make sure it all works correctly and everyone BUT them and their families needs to die first.
Let’s guess which way they play it.

Dr. Paul Mackey

Apparently the Kaya identity is key to working out the IPCC scenarios………

john karajas

India and China will pay no attention whatsoever and that is 40% of the world’s population before we consider any other countries that will pour scorn and derision on this, another strange and stupid UN idea.


Running the numbers through UN’s elegant equation looks like this:
30 Gigatons annual CO2 emissions = (7.046 billion folks) x ($72 Trillion GDP/7.046 billion folks) x (144,000 TWH energy production/$72 trillion GDP) x (30 Gigaton annual CO2 emissions/144,000 TWH energy production)
Drum roll please….
30 gigatons = 30 gigatons….


Momentum = mass x velocity
@mooloo here is the difference
mass = 2
vel = 2
what is momentum you have an answer correct?
now replace every variable except CO2 emissions with the value 2. Solve for CO2. Answer is 1. Do it again use 7. Answer = 1. Again using any number or combination of numbers answer =1
put 7 into first equation answer is 49.
one equation gives a useful answer one does not.


July 10, 2014 at 12:15 am
Why do people still take the UN seriously?
In this instance, CAGW, the UN can best be viewed as a lunatic holding a loaded gun to your head. As such it should be take very seriously. 🙂


They could save themselves all that nonsense if they would just realize it’s ALL carbon. Every last bit of it creates CO2, in spite of their little man-made rule that emissions from bio-fuels don’t count. They still add to the total volume of CO2. The U.N.=irrelevant


Correction would be to say you get 1=1. Not an answer of one.


Baking and brewing were among the first recorded industries. Yeasts produce carbon dioixide. In the brave new ‘de-carbonised’ world, will yeasts have to be genetically modified to release , say, Nitrogen instead? Or will breweries and bakeries need carbon dioxide capture and storage? Oh, some breweries have that already….
More seriously, I tried reading that document. It made my head spin. They really are on a crusade. Just take a good look at the language.


I was also going to say that this is an equation commonly used in climate economic but Jos has given a much better explanation than I could.


Willis: Your equation (Kaya Identity) is meant to help governments REALISTICALLY evaluate opportunities to reduce carbon emission – should they wish to do so. If the equation didn’t mathematically reduce to CO2 = CO2, it wouldn’t be of any use.
Population: For the next few decades, there is little opportunity to change the number of people in a country. Most of them are already living and family size tends to change slowly. Over the longer term, population growth tends to go down with increasing GDP.
Per capita GDP: No government wants to reduce CO2 emissions by reducing the growth in per capita GDP – which is roughly equivalent to prosperity. All countries have minimum expectations for increasing per capita GDP and will include this factor in their plans.
CO2/energy is something that can be improved. For electricity (roughly 50% of CO2 emissions), one can replace coal with natural gas. Or fossil fuels with nuclear, solar, or wind. Roughly 100 nuclear plants provide about 20% of US electricity. Reality: Another 200 nuclear power plants (plus replacements) probably would handle our base demand for electricity, which accounts for perhaps 25% of current US emissions. If we want to get there in 25 years, we need to start building about 10 new plants per year. If you don’t think current designs are safe enough and you want something like thorium, how long will it be before you can start building 10 plants per year? A decade to develop the new technology and a decade of operating experience? For transportation and heating, there currently aren’t very good replacements for fossil fuels and the ones that exist will demand more electricity.
GDP/energy also is something that can be improved by energy conservation: better insulation, higher mileage vehicles, replacing incandescent light bulbs, etc. We’ve been concerned about energy conservation since the 1970’s, so this is familiar ground.
If you are a developing country whose population will increase 20% by 2050 and you want to emulate China and increase your GDP two to four fold by then, you probably won’t be signing any international agreements to restrict emissions.

Greg Goodman

david gould says: “sin/cos = tan, because sin = opp/hyp, cos = adj/hyp and tan = opp/adj
You could say that sin/cos = tan is simply an equation showiing that tan is equal to tan. ”
Mooloo says: “Momentum = mass x velocity. Cancelling out variables we get momentum = momentum. As we should.”
Jeezus H ! What is the matter with you bozos? If you have three DIFFERENT terms in an equation, there is NOTHING to cancel out.
If you have a total lack of understanding of even the most elementary algebra you’d be well advise to remain silent instead of making total fools of yourselves. ( Either that or apply for a job at the U.N. , you’re apparently fully qualified. )
Mooloo says: “The point of the Kaya Identity (Identity, as in being the same thing) is that it allows us to figure out what effect a 10% growth in population will have, all other things being equal. And how much energy efficiency we would need to cancel out a given GDP growth.”
No, it does not “allow” any such thing, it is useless and contains no information at all other then CO2=CO2 . If you increase GDP by 10%, it affects the top and bottom line equally and the rest of the equation stays the same. It tells you nothing.
Does the following “allow” you calculate the how the price of figs depends on population growth?
Price of figs = POPULATION * Price of figs / POPULATION
No. all it says is: Price of figs = Price of figs


Frightening that this document must have been through review by many people without any of them has spotted the flaws in this formula.Reading the text above it seems that it should have been something like:
CO2 emissions (Tonne/year) = Number of persons on earth (capita) * Produced value per person per year ($/capita*year)* Energy use per produced value (J/$) * CO2 emission per used unit of energy (Tonne CO2/J)
Or, with units only:
(Tonne/year) = (capita)*($/capita*year)*(J/$)*(Tonne CO/J)
Then it is still overly simplistic, but at least it is consistent with regards to units:
Theoretically, to reduce CO2 emissions you can reduce:
Number of persons on earth
Value production per person
Energy use per unit produced value (Increase the energy efficiency)
Reduce the carbon emission per produced unit of energy

Björn from Sweden

Now! Firstly I would like to make the argument that simplification sometimes hides where the sum comes from. If you are on prescription medication you take 4 pills per day, 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. So there would be a point in not simplyfiing the text on the bottle to just say eat 4 pills/day, but instead let it say eat 2+2 pills/day. Ok that caveat is out of the way.

Here comes what I found missing in the equation, probably on purpose on UN:s part;
I believe the equation should read:
CO2 emissions = population * GDP/population * energy/GDP * CO2/energy * money/CO2
CO2 emissions = money

Which is what they all are drooling over, money.
No doubt the UN would like to see a price of 100$ per metric ton of CO2.
So the emissions are 30 Gtons/year currently.
We pay the UN in 100$ bills, robbers like 100$ bills.
Lets assume one bill is a tenth of a mm thick, that means a stack of ten 100$ amounts to 1 mm, 10 thousand 100$ is one meter, one million$.
3 million meters of 100$ bills? 3000 km? Thats something like 2000 miles I think, I use only metrics normally.
So yes it would seem that CO2=money, lots of money.

Oh my god I am a complete mathematics bozo and even I can see this is just dumb. If your equation can reduce to 1=1 then you are not doing anything useful, no matter how much you insist that it’s “necessary” to have your equation reduce to that. The contortions some of you are going through to try and prove that this is anything other than a completely nonsensical waste of time are incredible.


You may think it funny, Willis, but alarmists will consider it an essential action. Look out for ‘deep decarbonisation’ to gain traction amongst all on-message media outlets very soon. It will become the next big objective. It must be ridiculed and obstructed from day one.


Of course if we take Willis’s final equation and divide though by CO2 emissions we of couse get the very useful identity of
I hear the sounds of millions of heads shaken in disbelief all over the planet.
Mooloo and Jos.
No the equation is absurd, it is independent of all its variables, the equation says literally 1 = 1 .

William Astley

The UN equation deep decarbonization equation is not correct.
The UN equation assumes a 50% drop in GDP will result in a 50% drop in CO2 emissions. That is not correct. The drop in GDP is not sustainable.
It is a fact that the UN and EU carbon taxing and carbon limiting policies is causing a drop in GDP and it is a fact that for small drops in GDP, carbon emissions drops.
The error in the UN equation is the drop in the GDP is not sustainable and cannot therefore be used to achieve the insane, purposeless deep decarbonization goal. If GDP trends to zero (no goods and services produced by a country and no funds to purchase critical input goods and services, such as the volatile food and energy) we starve and in cold countries freeze to death.
Well before GDP drops to zero there will be riots in our cities. The politicians will respond to the riots by stopping the insane deep decarbonization policies.
1. Deep decarbonization would require worldwide population reduction and the banning of all air travel for tourism. That type of policy would not have public support.
2. Deep decarbonization would require the banning of the consumption of all meat (agriculture currently is directly or indirectly (due to cutting down forests to grow food to feed to animals which are then eaten and the CH4 emitted by the animals, and so on for 18% of the CO2 emissions.) The 18% of GWG due to the food industry can be reduced by a factor of three if the entire population switches to a vegan diet.