Lomborg pushes back against Joe Romm’s over the top screed about the lack of impact of #COP21

Guest essay by Bjørn Lomborg

My research paper, “Impact of Current Climate Proposals” published in Global Policy (and discussed on WUWT), is the first peer-reviewed analysis of the impact of 2016-2030 global and national commitments made ahead of this December’s Paris climate summit.

Using the peer-reviewed climate model MAGICC, I estimate the marginal impact of carbon reduction promises called INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) from the EU, USA, China and the rest of the world, along with the likely global policy output. My major finding is that the total effect is very small: less than 0.05°C difference by the end of the century.

Summary:

• Romm ignores similar MIT finding;
• Relies on Climate Interactive research with made-up reductions that depend almost entirely on a highly exaggerated baseline unsupported by mainstream analysis;
• Attacks Lomborg paper for disregarding Chinese ‘peaking’ promise while relying on research that doesn’t include it either;
• Climate Interactive results for China depend on an exaggerated baseline – remove this assumption and the results are similar to the Lomborg paper;
• Inclusion of Chinese ‘peaking’ promise is inconsistent with a robust analysis of Paris 2016-2030 promises;
• Even if Chinese ‘peaking’ promise were included, results would not change significantly.

I also explore what would happen if every nation were to extend its Paris promises every year for another 70 years after 2030. This is an optimistic scenario and not something promised by most nations. USA, for example, states that “the US target is for a single year: 2025.” But even with such optimistic assumptions, my analysis shows that the temperature reduction by 2100 is still insignificant at just 0.17°C.

lomborg-figure1

All of this is straightforward and can be replicated by anyone using the MAGICC model and some patience.

Yet my peer-reviewed research paper sparked an emotional response from environmentalist Joe Romm. His complaint is that I am overly pessimistic about Paris. In his customary style of ad hominem attacks and fervid language, he calls me a “widely debunked confusionist”, labels my research “nonsense”, a “lie” and “intellectually indefensible”, and suggests his supporters use social media to go after the journal that published it.

Setting aside Mr. Romm’s insults and attempts at provocation, I’d like to respond to the actual assertions.

MIT finding is ignored

My temperature change results are very similar to the findings of MIT’s Joint Program on Global Change in Energy and Climate Outlook 2015 .

MIT stated: “A natural question is: How much do the INDCs proposed ahead of the COP21 meeting further reduce warming, assuming our estimates reflect the agreement and its implementation? … The difference between the red and green lines is the additional contribution of COP21 policies, and that is about 0.2°C less warming by the end of the century.”

2015-11-17-1447758298-9551230-2.png

Mr. Romm chooses to ignore MIT’s finding which was broadly consistent with my analysis.

Reliance on Climate Interactive findings

Instead, Mr. Romm places much faith in the findings of a not-for-profit called Climate Interactive. Their findings, which have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal, are represented by the following graph:

2015-11-17-1447758355-1076582-3.jpg

The graph is an ideal campaigning and advocacy tool: it shows that if governments do nothing to reduce climate change (“no action”), there will be temperature rises of 4.5°C. Promises made ahead of Paris (“current INDCs”) would reduce temperature rises by one degree to 3.5°C, but this is still far from the goal embraced by climate advocates of restricting temperature rises to less than 2°C (“2°C pathway”).

In addition to these numbers being unpublished in peer-reviewed literature, the authors have refused to share individual country data that would show how such pathways were constructed in the first place.

But it is possible, with work, to identify some of their assumptions. And this reveals that Mr. Romm has placed his faith in a very dubious piece of advocacy.

Climate Interactive reduction in emissions is made up

The Climate Interactive analysis relies on an incredibly far-fetched ‘no action’ scenario where the planet will emit huge amounts of carbon if it doesn’t enact carbon-cutting policies.

It is this artificially high baseline – unsupported by any mainstream analysis – that accounts for the massive reduction that Climate Interactive expects from Paris.

Indeed, about 70% of the suggested temperature reduction identified by Climate Interactive is completely spurious.

We can see the size of the difference in the following figure, comparing the Climate Interactive “no action” baseline for the USA, to two ‘Business as Usual’ scenarios from nine mainstream, peer-reviewed models from the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum 24:

2015-11-17-1447758397-8152001-4.png

Globally, Climate Interactive equates “no action” with the planet emitting an astonishing 140Gt CO₂ equivalents every year towards the end of the century.

This is a fairly wild exaggeration. The UN Environment Programme, along with most responsible, mainstream organizations, estimates that without any climate policies after 2010, the planet would likely hit emissions of just under 100Gt.

My analysis used the gold standard for energy modeling from the latest Stanford Energy Modeling Forum, encompassing 10 of the world’s top models, all individually and collectively peer reviewed. These find a very similar scenario to UNEP, with much lower emissions than Climate Interactive assumes.

This means that about two-thirds (about 2,000Gt) of Climate Interactive’s entire expected emission reduction is a result of its artificial baseline, not of emissions reductions.

Since these emissions would never have taken place, Paris climate promises can’t take credit for eliminating them.

Once we take this assumption away, we find that instead of a reduction of 1°C there is only a cut of about 0.3°C.

Of this, about 0.2°C represents the actual reductions – comparable to what my paper, MIT’s work, and most other reputable organizations find.

The last 0.1°C appears mostly to be based on emission reductions happening far after the likely end-point of Paris in 2030. This exaggerates the effects of Paris. Hoping that more cuts happen after the period of the Paris treaty is not a robust way to analyze the effects of Paris.

2015-11-17-1447758436-9945472-5.png

The Chinese ‘Peaking’ promise

Mr. Romm objects that my analysis of Paris disregards a promise by China that its carbon emissions will peak somewhere around 2030.

He describes this hyperbolically as the “single most important” commitment made ahead of this year’s climate summit, and suggests that by disregarding it from my analysis I made “an assumption so unjustifiable it should have rendered the entire paper unpublishable”.

But if we piece back together the Climate Interactive work – again, their results are not published in any peer-reviewed journal – it appears that there is no substantial difference between the Climate Interactive scenario for China and my peer-reviewed paper’s estimate.

Climate Interactive does not actually include a ‘peak’ for Chinese emissions, which was the crux of Romm’s criticism of my work.

And my estimate has slightly lower overall emissions from China across the century:

2015-11-17-1447758473-9816287-6.png

Instead, the Climate Interactive findings of a substantial reduction from China are dependent on nothing more than an unbelievably high ‘no-action’ scenario.

Let’s compare Climate Interactive’s baseline scenario assumption for China with the median of 17 individually peer-reviewed reference scenarios in the collectively peer-reviewed Asia Modeling Exercise:

2015-11-17-1447758508-7163412-7.png

For most of the century, Climate Interactive assume that China with no climate policies will emit almost twice as much as what peer-reviewed models estimate.

It is Climate Interactive that is the outlier from mainstream analysis, not my own peer-reviewed research. Mr. Romm appears not to realize this.

Reasons for leaving out Chinese promise from analysis

In my article I tackled upfront what to make of far-off promises like China’s. (I can only assume that Climate Interactive used the same approach, which is why they end up with almost the same China emission profile as I do, baseline notwithstanding).

I provided three interlocking arguments as to why any sound measurement of the outcomes of Paris should look only at the promises enacted and measurable between 2016-2030, not those outside the period:

First: It is difficult to defend the inclusion of targets with a very low likelihood of implementation.

In my article, I only include policies that have practical political implications soon and have a verifiable outcome by 2030.

It is undeniable that political targets further away are less likely to be implemented. Recent history clearly indicates that climate promises even 10-15 years ahead will be routinely flouted.

When China commits to reduce its carbon intensity of GDP by 60% to 65% below 2005 levels by 2030, we can analyze the progression towards that goal very clearly over the next 15 years and clearly determine if it is met by 2030 – so this is included in my analysis.

However, the promise to “achieve the peaking of carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 and making best efforts to peak early” (often curiously misquoted, as for instance in “peak CO₂ emissions by 2030 at the latest”) is something that will only have an effect after around 2030, and it is something that will first be verifiable around 2035 or later.

This is especially true given that Chinese energy statistics are notoriously opaque. Just in the last few weeks it became clear that China burned perhaps 17% more coal per year in recent years than was previously understood.

China’s ‘peaking’ promise is very unlikely to be achieved based on economic reality alone. The cost can be identified from the Asia Modeling Exercise which indicates that the lowest GDP loss would be about $400bn or about 1.7% of GDP, and likely twice that. It strains credibility to expect China to commit such economic self-harm.

(It is worth noting in passing that China also promises in its INDC to be “democratic” in 2050. The one-party state’s vow should probably be treated rather similarly to the suggestion that it will rein in economic growth so dramatically).

Second: my approach is methodologically clear. The alternative is unable to avoid a slippery slope that would include every target, vow, promise, or vague political undertaking.

In my analysis, I was consistent in ruling out longer-term promises that were further off and economically implausible.

I also left out the US promise of “deep, economy-wide emission reductions of 80% or more by 2050.” Data from the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum for the US shows an average GDP loss at more than $1 trillion annually, if done efficiently. If not, which seems to be the only constant in climate policy, the cost will likely double to almost $2.5 trillion or 7.5% of US GDP in 2050.

And I left out the EU promise “to reduce its emissions by 80-95% by 2050 compared to 1990.” Data from the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum shows the average GDP loss at almost €3 trillion annually, if done efficiently. If not, the cost will likely double to almost €6 trillion or 25% of EU GDP in 2050.

If we were to include the Chinese ‘peaking’ promise, why not also include the US promise to cut 80% by 2050 and the EU promise to cut 80-95% by 2050, both of which are mentioned in their INDCs?

Including these promises would make a mockery of any real analysis of what the Paris treaty can achieve.

Indeed, since almost every nation has signed up to reduce temperature rises to 2°C, and about 80-90 nations including the EU and the US ‘endorse’ this target in their INDCs, where should we draw the line?

That Mr. Romm didn’t question the exclusion of any of these undertakings speaks volumes. Indeed, the only real question is why he argues that China’s unlikely promise should have been included.

Mr. Romm appears to pick and choose which ‘targets’ should be included. In doing so, he essentially concedes the point.

Third: the commitment period of 2016-2030 is by far the most common understanding of what Paris constitutes.

This is true whether we pay attention to the United Nations or at the official material from nations themselves:

  • The UNFCCC in its “Synthesis report on the aggregate effect of the intended nationally determined contributions” describes the central results as emission reductions achieved in 2025 and 2030, not further. It specifically labels possible emission reductions after 2030 as actions taken by nations “beyond the time frames stated in their INDCs (e.g. beyond 2025 and 2030).”
  • The US clearly states that its understanding of its INDC is for 2025 and not further: “The U.S. target is for a single year: 2025.”
  • The EU sets its targets for 2030 and not any further.
  • In its own INDC, China clearly writes what it expects from the Paris agreement, namely to “formulate and implement programs and measures to reduce or limit greenhouse gas emissions for the period 2020-2030.” So even China itself is unequivocal that the Paris deal is not about promises after 2030, but up until 2030.

What does history tell us?

By Mr. Romm’s logic, an analysis conducted in 1997 on the likely effect of the Kyoto Protocol should have included not just the specific commitments made in Kyoto, but every far-reaching promise made around that time. By his logic, we should have assumed that not only would this treaty be implemented, but that stronger and ever-increasing cuts would consistently be made as a result of policy (and not economic downturns) for decades. History shows that we would have been utterly wrong to do so.

Should such an analysis of Kyoto have included President Bill Clinton’s 1993 announcement that the US would reduce its emissions by 2000? That promise was never fulfilled. According to the Washington Post, the US administration’s excuse was that the “goal is no longer possible because the economy has grown more rapidly than expected.” The commitment failed even though it was for just seven years later, was to be implemented right away, and under the same president who made it.

Every industrialized nation actually promised in 1992 to return their emissions in 2000 to 1990-levels, – and almost every single one missed that target.

Even the commitments made in the Kyoto Protocol itself ended up meaning nothing. The treaty was abandoned by the USA, and eventually by Russia, Japan and Canada.

We would clearly not have known this if we were conducting analysis in 1997 – but the examples show that it is folly to assume that we can realistically believe targets much further ahead to be right.

What happens when we include China’s commitment? Not much

I stand by my arguments for not including the unlikely and expensive ‘peaking’ vow of China.
But even if it had been included in the analysis, what Mr. Romm labels the “single most important” promise actually matters very little.

Running the data in MAGICC shows that allowing for China peaking in 2030 would only reduce temperatures by a miniscule amount more in 2100: a reduction of 0.1°C.

Mr. Romm enthusiastically concluded that “China’s commitment alone — which Lomborg explicitly ignores — reduces projected future temperatures by 0.4°C in 2100!” It appears he based this on the wildly exaggerated baseline from Climate Interactive.

Mr. Romm’s liking of this point notwithstanding, it appears unsupported by modeling based on the correct, peer-reviewed baselines (UNEP or EMF27) and on peer-reviewed climate models.

Wanting a different result isn’t grounds to change research

Mr. Romm is an environmentalist and an activist. It is understandable that, for purposes of campaigning, he wants to be able to argue that Paris will make a large climate impact, even if more is needed. But he errs in his emotional dismissal of my peer-reviewed analysis.

The findings that he prefers are not based on correct, peer-reviewed baselines (UNEP or EMF27) and as a result lead to wild overestimates of temperature cuts.

Mr. Romm’s endorsement of this approach is disturbing.

Mr. Romm does not explain why he would add the Chinese ‘peaking’ vow to analysis but not include other far-fetched promises.

He misses the fact that his own favored analysis doesn’t include the Chinese ‘peaking’ vow either.

He does not provide a basis for the suggestion that China’s is the “single most important” commitment.

He ignores the fact that I use the standard definition of Paris that is used by UNFCCC and all major players in their INDCs.

He does not acknowledge that my approach avoids a slippery slope where we would end up including every single political commitment, no matter how infeasible.

He ignores the fact that my finding is consistent with similar work by MIT.

And despite Mr. Romm’s claims to the contrary, the inclusion of China’s promise in my analysis would have a tiny impact on the results.

This should worry Mr Romm as an environmentalist, because it shows that the approach that he is advocating for Paris has serious flaws and will have very little real impact.

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76 thoughts on “Lomborg pushes back against Joe Romm’s over the top screed about the lack of impact of #COP21

  1. …Great info, loved your video !! I agree..it’s the Sun’s interaction with Cosmic Rays (particles) that create the clouds that decide the Earth’s temperature !

    • Yeah, I was wondering if anyone else found it ironic that their climate model was called “MAGICC.” So, you’re saying it’s built on distraction and sleight of hand?

  2. Bjorn, you show that the Climate Interactive estimate of CO2 emissions is wildly too high. But, you both agree on the same final temperature increase of about 4.5 K in 2100 for a business-as-usual scenario. How did that happen? Did they use a LOWER estimate of climate sensitivity?

    • I don’t know where Bjorn stands on climate sensitivity, but I believe his research used the UNEP’s estimates. He simply points out that IF their calculations, formulas, models, crystal balls are correct (they aren’t) that Paris won’t make a significant difference at all.

      I believe he’s pointing out the futility/stupidity of even bothering with a Paris treaty based on the UNEP’s own math. Pointing out that their math is wildly flawed is a different dog/paper. In other words I feel like he’s saying “Even if you guys are right, this is a waste of time.” But that’s just me.

      • Paris is not futile for the warmists.

        True, the effect on temperature will be negligible, but it lets them roll out the wealth redistribution machine, crush the industrial west and achieve the green-nirvana.

        Remember what Ottmar Edenhoffer of UNIPCC said in the German interview…
        ” We (THe UNIPCC) redistribute the worlds wealth by climate policy…One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. It has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore…”

      • You can tinker with projections and graphs all you want, but when the fundamental assumptions are wildly wrong the results have no rational meaning. Address the ad hominem attacks and fervid language. That’s where weasels like Romm need to be taken down.

  3. Romm is well known as a liar. Which is why he likes liars like Obama, Clinton, Gore, etc. They are all kindred spirits in an ideological quest for accumulation of political power by any means necessary.

  4. The Alarmists are getting increasing emotional. Most of their arguments are now ad hominem and obfuscation. The side of rationality and reasoned, cautious, conservationist yet realistic adaptation is winning. Bottom line is that the world has far greater problems in the short term and near term to concentrate on than the climate alarmism. And everyone knows the score. The panic messages are no longer resonating.

    • Their arguments always were mostly ad hominem and obfuscatory. ClimateGate made it clear that they would have to take increasingly bizarre stands as the pseudoscience gave way beneath their feet. Obama intends to sign the treaty, anyway, and call it binding because he thinks he can get away with it.

  5. The entire paper, especially the first figure, give the impression of MUCH TOO MUCH precision. By doing so, it strengthens the arguments of the IPCC and COP21.

    A much better figure 1 would include the error bars and cone of uncertainty in what the future temperatures could be given the state of the predicting and forecasting model variability. Then it would be obvious that not only are the proposed reductions insignificant, but that it would be impossible to measure their effectiveness when the ‘scientifically supported’ temperature reduction is less than 2% of the scientifically admitted system uncertainty.

    • I think that the point is that even if you assume that the government climate scientists’ models are correct you still end up with a vanishingly small effect on global temperatures from these proposals. As most of us know, MAGICC and other such models provide predictions for global temperatures that are much too high given the standard parameterizations.

      • Those diagrams do not show “what most of us know”. Whether by design or blunder, they reinforce the myth of scientific precision. They show nice fictionally precise lines rather than the wide, wide, wide cloud of true uncertainty.

        The most effective lies are not spoken falsehoods
        but great perceptive truths that are kept out of view.

    • Mr. Rasey: Then you are free to make your (valid) argument, as many have done and continue to do, that the models are false.

      It doesn’t strengthen their arguments to take them as a talking point in a larger argument. Mr. Lomberg’s great value is that he takes a different approach. He makes the case against climate alarmism as a financial waste. It is an effective rhetorical technique to say “Even if I accept all of your givens, your argument still fails because…”

      Climate alarmism and its harmful results should be argued against in as many ways as possible.

    • A much better figure 1 would include the error bars and cone of uncertainty

      In fairness to Bjorn, the tools to do so aren’t always easily accessible. The results from many open source tools aren’t always that good. Perhaps a resource should be created on WUWT with code examples on how to make good graphs. I’d be happy to contribute.

      Also The error bars aren’t always known.

      BTW just a random browse but there are some javascript-style tools that do a nice job, see for example:

      http://polling.reuters.com/#poll/TR130/filters/PARTY_ID_:2/dates/20151113-20151117/type/day

      Peter

  6. The warmists’ hysterical doomsday predictions and analyses and “debates” of likely future CO2 levels and their effects on temperature and climate over a future period 15 – 85 years ahead, without any consideration the effects of likely innovative engineering within that timescale, seems pointless. Regardless, we are still wasting £billions world-wide following this warmists’ agenda!
    Its on a par with Malthus’s forecasting in the 18th Century that, within a few years, the UK would not be able to feed itself! He was proved wrong; his mistake being in not even considering the emerging Agricultural/Industrial Revolution where free market processes and new innovative processes and engineering massively increased productivity.
    China already has an emergency R&D programme using USA 1970’s Oak Ridge Pilot Plant data as a starter, with a target to achieve the commissioning of a full scale commercial Thorium Reactor with 15 years or so Others will almost certainly have developed an innovative battery with a massively improved weight/power ration that could use Thorium Reactor power for battery powered transport systems in the air, on land and at sea for both goods/materials and people – as well as general power production for all current static domestic, commercial and industrial needs. By that time, others may well have cracked the Fusion Power problem!
    An open free competitive market helped develop the world and generated our wealth through innovative new engineering, processes and applications. This is now essential for at least our Power and Energy Markets; but the current crony capitalist programmes of subsidies, tax breaks and guaranteed minimum prices are disrupting and even destroying any chance of us having such a market. Suppliers are effectively being de-motivated and cosseted, to everyone and the world’s disadvantage!

  7. Under China’s own INDC, and assuming GDP growth projected by the IMF, their emissions will be 50% higher than now by 2030.

    Current levels of growth, which at around 8% are higher than the IMF numbers, would, if maintained, triple emissions by 2030.

    https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/chinas-climate-plan/

    Looking at all INDC’s, global emissions are likely to be at least 20% higher by then.

    https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2015/11/17/paris-wont-stop-co2-emissions-from-climbing/

    • Furthermore none of the current China emission scenarios incorporate revised population growth rates under the just announced 2-child policy.

  8. Why is this nonsense prevailing in Washington/NYC?
    The Bolsheviks are probably still trying to build their communist Utopia, and if so, the whole idea to return to pre-industrial ages is to return to a tiny population of middle class/poor people. It makes no sense that this is anything else than a new pogrom to reduce the populace hoi polloi. If you’ve studied the history of communism, you know that the US imported hundreds of thousands of them in the 20th Century, headquartered in NYC and backed by the richest people in the world. Remember that the Bolsheviks murdered tens of millions of people in their quest for total control. It is only common sense to think this may be their 21st Century face….Already thousands have died in Europe in the past few years due to the high cost of heating their homes. Fossil fuel use created the middle class and transformed society from its thousands of years of serfdom/slavery.

  9. My impression was and is that China’s “Promise” to peak emissions of CO2 in the mid-2030s was based on the fact that they currently expect to start running out of coal around then. i.e. They intend to burn everything they can get their hands on that will burn yielding useful energy and will stop doing so when they run out of combustible material. Exactly why their promise to stick to that plan is viewed as a victory for the environment eludes me.

    • +1 But Soros and Buffet will own all the dirty energy, and send it to China, where they will refuse to burn it. /Snark

      • “Actually it’s based on stabilization of population growth”

        Population is certainly a factor, but you really can’t assume constant or near constant per capita energy use. At least not until later in the century. Especially since about half China’s current population is rural and many are actually living the sort of low impact lifestyle that western greens think we should all aspire to. I strongly suspect that most rural Chinese look forward to the day when they will have abundant electricity, running water, refrigeration, climate controlled houses, with two SUVs parked out front etc.etc.etc.

        Unfortunately, China seems to have been somewhat shortchanged when the gods were passing out hydrocarbons. They along with Japan and France (also shortchanged) may turn out to be the real early adapters in low carbon emission industrial societies. But it won’t be because they want it that way.

  10. This should worry Mr Romm as an environmentalist, because it shows that the approach that he is advocating for Paris has serious flaws and will have very little real impact.

    It just may be that for many concerning this issue, the impact of any climate deals on the actual climate is not the primary consideration.

  11. Even if the commitments were achieved, how would we know that they worked? With the completely TRASHED temperature records to compare with….and what if we did all of this…and the temperature went worst-case ANYWAY? Romm’s shenanigans are typical of the very confusionism he whines about.

  12. This is a POLITICAL drama with a POLITICAL goal (end of capitalism, gathering of power) aided by paid Political psuedo science. With an abetting media and a somnolent public, they may be able to further their objectives. Paris is just one more act in a long play, I fervently hope somehow the many cracks deepen and widen into a bursting explosion of embarrassing reality, but the forces are so huge against the truth and real science it appears to be not very likely still. It is all well and good to say “I told you so” at the end, but if they manage to destroy the world economy even further it will be a hollow victory.
    Just when I think the tottering structure will fall to the ground, it miraculously survives. It never ceases to amaze me how desperately people will defend something they want to believe so badly. And China and Russia must be laughing up their sleeves while we cut ourselves to ribbons.
    The MONEY thing has real promise, bless Shukla’s Gold and Climate Audit.

  13. As an anti-CO2 crusade, AGW has been a MISERABLE FAILURE.

    Global CO2 emissions will continue to climb, probably quite rapidly, for decades to come.

    It remains to be seen if the real agenda behind AGW will come to fruition.

  14. “This should worry Mr Romm as an environmentalist”

    Mr Romm is not an environmentalist. He doesn’t appear to know much about any environment. He appears to be a cult leader/ propaganda writer who works in an office.

    A real environmentalist would be optimistic and relieved that observation is demonstrating previous fears over climate sensitivity to CO2 were overblown. Someone who actually cares about the environment would rather be wrong about their fears and look for any glimmer of hope that the climate is not controlled by man. Romm and his ilk behave as though they would rather be right in a doomed world, than wrong in a prosperous one. They do this by ignoring any and all counter evidence for their claims. If they really believed the earth was doomed, wouldn’t any evidence that it is not be exciting? I don’t know what that says about them but to me it shows that they care more about their own ideas than the earth itself.

    • The real agenda is the destruction of the fossil fuel industries and the domination of large-scale wind and solar technology. But they have absolutely no clue as to how this will actually work or even if it will work, but they are trying their hardest to make it happen. The correct term for them would be “technology fetishists”, not environmentalists.

  15. “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” according to Wikipedia:
    “The question has … been linked to the fall of Constantinople, with the imagery of scholars debating about minutiae while the Turkish besieged the city.
    In modern usage, it therefore has been used as a metaphor for wasting time debating topics of no practical value, or questions whose answers hold no intellectual consequence, while more urgent concerns pile up …”.

  16. “…Mr. Romm’s logic,…”

    Our apologies, Bjorn. We could’ve told that the above statement is an oxymoron of the first order.

    Romm is a paid propagandist and as rovingbroker points out earlier in the thread, Romm uses FUD virtually exclusively.

    Based on everything that Romm stated, I think you should inform Mr. Romm that he has insulted your honor and challenged you to a duel. Said duel is to be using verified data at ten paces. All data and calculations are to be vetted through proven ‘honest’ statisticians.

    May I suggest Lord Monckton of Brenchley as your second.

  17. Bjorn, what I think is a weakness with your article is that what you label as optimistic scenarios are what I would consider as very pessimistic scenarios, and what you label pessimistic scenarios I would consider totally unrealistic and extreme pessimistic scenarios.

    In my opinion you lack both realistic and plausible optimistic scenarios.

    Take for instance the EU 2020 policy which you analyze. EU has promised to reduce the emission by 40 percent below the 1990 emission by 2030. You have graphed this in figure 5 in your paper.
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1758-5899.12295/full#gpol12295-fig-0005

    Both your optimistic and pessimistic scenario start to increase after 2030.

    Do you really think that EU after using massive resources to achieve the reduction in 2030 will start to increase their emissions as soon as the promise has been fulfilled?

    The carbon emissions in teh EU countries peaked in 2006. Given that the carbon emissions have been decreasing for about 24 years in 2030, I think the most plausible scenario would be a continued decrease. After all, we don’t expect any population boom in EU, and we don’t expect that they will throw away all their investments in renewables and gas, and start digging up coal en masse just because their EU2020 promise has been reached, do we?

    You use the same very pessimistic scenarios for all the different policies in your paper, take for instance:

    US Clean power plan:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1758-5899.12295/full#gpol12295-fig-0001

    The steep increase in the pessimistic scenario almost looks like a joke. How can you in the year 2030, in a moment go from a steep downward trend to a steep upward trend?

    US proposed Paris Reduction
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1758-5899.12295/full#gpol12295-fig-0003

    joking again?

    EUIDC 2030 policy
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1758-5899.12295/full#gpol12295-fig-0007

    With more optimistic scenarios the gain in temperatures would be considerably higher.

    /Jan

    • In my opinion you lack both realistic and plausible optimistic scenarios.

      Perhaps “realistic” and “plausible” are unrealistic and implausible when it comes to “optimistic scenarios”?

    • @Jan
      You misunderstand, I believe, Bjorn’s approach here. He is, for the sake of argument only, granting many of the alarmist conditions and showing that even in terms of their own data and assumptions, there is no catastrophe.

      • No, he is not granting any alarmist conditions here.

        What he does is to pick the future emission scenarios in an unrealistic way, just to show that the carbon cutting initiatives will have little impact.

        With other emission scenarios the carbon cutting initiatives would be more sensible.

        /Jan

  18. Here is the urgers best result for a complete stoppage of human co2 emissions today. The Royal Society and NAS joint report tells us ( point 20) that we could cease all emissions today and co2 levels and temp would not change for thousands of years.
    You and I may think this is ridiculous but Trenberth , Solomons and 5 other IPCC authors contributed to this report. THIS IS TRULY WHAT THEY BELIEVE. So Paris according to them is just a crock of crap and won’t change anything for a cost of trillions $. Here’s their point 20.

    https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/climate-evidence-causes/question-20/

  19. It seems “peer reviewed papers” can be dismissed if they do not feed the confirmation bias of climate cranks.

  20. What really annoys me is the tunnel vision of the entire debate. Who says that the only solution is government action? No matter what governments do, a significant technological advance that decreases the cost of energy in a way that decreases CO2, or an actually effective (and cost effective) storage solution would create effects far greater. We could have a CO2 free economy in a few decades if an alternative was found, and government would have little (if any) effect on that outcome. All they would do is get in the way, delaying implementation of some new, let’s say, innovative nuclear technology by the imposition of onerous regulations, as is what the government always does.

  21. I am still confused why warmists laud Chinese promises to peak emissions in 2030 as something significant. They claim that we are now at a critical time to take action or we all die. Yet the biggest emitter in the world is given a free pass till 2030. Seems a strange way of taking action, exempting the one country whose emissions would actually make a difference. In fact why not give everyone a free pass till then.The Chinese deal is the biggest Claytons deal ever done and makes an even bigger farce of a farcical situation. Why so many people are so gullible makes we wonder whether I am living in some parallel universe where every important global decision maker has lost their mind.

    • Considering that 97% of the world’s rare earth metals extraction and processing is in China…..

      They have enormous leverage because of this.

  22. I don’t see any difference from 30 years ago. I have my heat on in Canada all summer. It may not go on in July or August each year. This year was August and we had 3 weeks of warm weather where the heat did not go on. The change is what we pay for electricity. It has gone from .043 cents per kwh in 2003 to .30 cents in 2015. No change in temperature. The change we have made is not to live in Canada in the winter. Good for us, unsure if Ontario cares.

    • Perhaps you should move to Quebec where they have many electrons. See https://www.hydro.mb.ca/regulatory_affairs/energy_rates/electricity/utility_rate_comp.shtml

      You’re right. Your bills are likely twice those in Montreal for similar amounts of electricity. BTW, I live in Vermont where the political sentiment is that we — all 700,000 of us — MUST save the planet by switching to renewables. I am confident that we will eventually achieve rates comperable to Ontario, Denmark and Germany. This will somehow be my fault because it is inconceivable that they are confused about the costs and feasibility of their plans. (But they genuinely do mean well)

  23. Bjorn .Your work unfortunately accepts the Global warming paradigm as a useful basis for discussion.The climate models on which the entire Catastrophic Global Warming delusion rests are built without regard to the natural 60 and more importantly 1000 year periodicities so obvious in the temperature record. The modelers approach is simply a scientific disaster and lacks even average commonsense .It is exactly like taking the temperature trend from say Feb – July and projecting it ahead linearly for 20 years or so. They back tune their models for less than 100 years when the relevant time scale is millennial. This is scientific malfeasance on a grand scale. The temperature projections of the IPCC – UK Met office models and all the impact studies which derive from them have no solid foundation in empirical science being derived from inherently useless and specifically structurally flawed models. They provide no basis for the discussion of future climate trends and represent an enormous waste of time and money. As a foundation for Governmental climate and energy policy their forecasts are already seen to be grossly in error and are therefore worse than useless. A new forecasting paradigm needs to be adopted. For forecasts of the timing and extent of the coming cooling based on the natural solar activity cycles – most importantly the millennial cycle – and using the neutron count and 10Be record as the most useful proxy for solar activity check my blog-post at http://climatesense-norpag.blogspot.com/2014/07/climate-forecasting-methods-and-cooling.html

    The most important factor in climate forecasting is where earth is in regard to the quasi- millennial natural solar activity cycle which has a period in the 960 – 1020 year range. For evidence of this cycle see Figs 5-9. From Fig 9 it is obvious that the earth is just approaching ,just at or just past a peak in the millennial cycle. I suggest that more likely than not the general trends from 1000- 2000 seen in Fig 9 will likely generally repeat from 2000-3000 with the depths of the next LIA at about 2650. The best proxy for solar activity is the neutron monitor count and 10 Be data. My view ,based on the Oulu neutron count – Fig 14 is that the solar activity millennial maximum peaked in Cycle 22 in about 1991. There is a varying lag between the change in the in solar activity and the change in the different temperature metrics. There is a 12 year delay between the activity peak and the probable millennial cyclic temperature peak seen in the RSS data in 2003. http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/rss/from:1980.1/plot/rss/from:1980.1/to:2003.6/trend/plot/rss/from:2003.6/trend

    There has been a cooling temperature trend since then (Usually interpreted as a “pause”) There is likely to be a steepening of the cooling trend in 2017- 2018 corresponding to the very important Ap index break below all recent base values in 2005-6. Fig 13.

    The Polar excursions of the last few winters in North America are harbingers of even more extreme winters to come more frequently in the near future.
    It is time that you revisited the basic data and reconsidered your approach.

    • I consider that there are five distinct issues, each of which is worthy of independent examination

      First, there is the science; does CO2 lead to significant increase in temperatures, how much warming has there really been, and what extent is that warming caused by CO2 and what extent is attributable to natural variation etc?.

      Second, is whether factually a warming world would be a net good, or a net bad. At what temperature above current levels would further warming cause serious problems, and to what extent is this global or regional, and to identify what those problems are.

      Third, if the globe is warming and if warming above a certain level will be a net harm, how should we address this, ie., with a policy of mitigation, or a policy of targeted adaption.

      Fourth, what real and measurable impact do the various political attempts at mitigation have upon the reduction of GLOBAL CO2 emissions. Do they merely off-shore emissions from one country to another? Does the roll out of renewables such as wind and solar reduce CO2 emissions significantly given that those forms of energy are not despatchable, that there is presently no viable form of energy mass storage, and those forms of energy require 100% back up by conventional fossil fuel generation (or biomass generation wherein the burning of biomass produces more CO2 per GWh than say the burning of gas).

      Fifth, what is the economic cost of implementing a switch away from fossil fuel energy production and usage, to some other non fossil fuelled energy generation? This will not simply be the expense of building all the required windfarms, solar farms, but also the impact of higher energy costs on industry economic activity lowering GDP, increased unemployment and higher welfare bills, fuel poverty, and other social costs.

      So I consider this post to be valuable, but you are right to point out that all of this is premised on the assumption that CO2 causes warming and that the warming would be harmful. the science may suggest that that premise is unsound, such that all action to mitigate is doomed to failure and a waste of money.

  24. I suppose you know by now Australia under the new PM Malcolm Turnbull who was a climate change supporter etc., withdrew the 4 million dollars that Bjorn was supposed to host the climate change commission in Australia. I don’t like Malcolm I don’t trust him.

  25. Bjørn Lomborg:

    Thankyou for your clear explanation of your analysis that provides a complete rebuttal of “Joe Romm’s over the top screed”.

    Your explanation includes many good points and I draw attention to this one.

    China’s ‘peaking’ promise is very unlikely to be achieved based on economic reality alone. The cost can be identified from the Asia Modeling Exercise which indicates that the lowest GDP loss would be about $400bn or about 1.7% of GDP, and likely twice that. It strains credibility to expect China to commit such economic self-harm.

    Activists are making much of “China’s ‘peaking’ promise” and one of them attacked me on WUWT where he claimed I did not know of the ‘promise’ until he mentioned it. He asserted that the ‘promise’ is the most important of all information on future GHG emissions (yes, he did. I am not exaggerating).

    I explained that I was fully aware of the promise but I recognised it is meaningless. Politicians act now on matters they genuinely intend to address, and any promise made by any politicians for decades in the future is meaningless.

    The activist was unmoved by all argument and evidence. He claimed the ‘promise’ is a policy that China intends to fulfill and, therefore, we need to match it or China would abandon its policy.

    My refutations of his nonsense did not include the economic forecast you have reported and I have quoted here. That forecast is additional information to use when explaining the matter to activists. I thank you for informing me of it.

    Richard

  26. It is difficult to defend the inclusion of targets with a very low likelihood of implementation.

    Don’t see why not. Climate science depends on inclusion of assumptions with a very low likelihood of being realistic. Actually assumptions are still maintained even after having been demonstrated false by the evidence.

  27. The only times that emissions flatten or decline is during recessions, making that 2C pathway look like the biggest economic recession/depression the world has ever known.

  28. Not being a scientist or understanding all your theories and possible projections, I would like to know how much solar flares, volcanoes, earthquakes, forest fires,and warfare have figured into your projections?

  29. By exaggerate the climate sensitivity they can claim after a successful Paris, that Thermostat is finally under control (they’ll start faking the CO2 measured)

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