Quantifying Futility: an estimate of future Global CO2 emissions

Reposted from edmhdotme

Screenshot 2020-02-13 at 14.14.11.png

Following the thinking of the late Prof David Mackay using “back of the envelope calculations”, this post makes estimates of the likely future growth in global CO2 emissions to put the efforts at CO2 emissions reduction in the Western World into the context of a probable and inevitable future for Global CO2 emissions.

Two scenarios are considered.  They set the range of outcomes:

  1. The Underdeveloped world and India presently at a level of ~1.9tonnes/head/annum attain the global average level of CO2 emissions/head/annum of 2018:  4.46tonnes/head/annum.  This results in Global CO2 emissions growing by 18.5Gigatonnes/annum to reach ~52Gigatonnes/annum.  This level is close to the current CO2 emissions/head/annum in France.
  2. The Underdeveloped world and India eventually attain the level of CO2 emissions/head current in China:  6.78tonnes/head/annum.  This level is also close to the average 2018 CO2 emissions/head/annum in the EU(28). This would result in Global CO2 emissions growing by ~33.5Gigatonnes/annum to reach ~67Gigatonnes/annum.

These values set a range of estimates and show how the inevitable CO2 emissions growth in the Developing World would swamp any savings made by Western nations in the name of controlling climate.  This point was amply made by Berkley Professor Richard  Muller in 2010, before he set up the BEST temperature record.  His graph is shown below:  this post just puts some more precise values on the extent that the Underdeveloped world will wholly overwhelm any efforts in the West to reduce Global  CO2 emissions and thus attempt to influence Global temperature.Screenshot 2020-02-16 at 07.22.16.png

A note aside:  As France uses Nuclear power for electricity generation its has achieved the lowest CO2 emissions/head/annum of all Developed Nations.  France has shown the way in which significant but not total Decarbonisation can be achieved in a Developed Nation.  Irrationally, French policy now favours the reduction of its Nuclear fleet and the promotion of Weather Dependent Renewables.Screenshot 2020-02-12 at 09.42.01.png


Starting point

BP releases its review of World Energy every year and the most recent data from this source is dated to the end of 2018.  This data set is used as the foundation of the following speculative calculations.


The comprehensive BP data is reclassified into major Nation groups as shown below:

Screenshot 2020-02-09 at 09.44.36.png


CO2 emissions growth

In spite of the 2016 Paris Climate accord, it seems that the Underdeveloped and Developing Nations have no significant limitation of their CO2 emissions for the foreseeable future.

The BP data reports the 2018 Man-made CO2 emissions as ~34Gigatonnes/annum.  If the world population were:

  • to achieve the 2018 Global average the level of CO2 emissions would rise by ~18Gigatonnes/annum, an additional 60% to ~52Gigatonnes/annum
  • were the Global population eventually to attain a similar level of development to China that 2018 figure would increase by ~33gigatonnes/annum to virtually double to ~67Gigatonnes/annum.

In spite of Western agencies, such as the IMF, trying to hold back investment for effective power generation in the Underdeveloped World, (about half the Global population), on the grounds of controlling Man-made Climate Change, the Chinese “Belt and Road Program” is working in exactly the opposite direction.  China is promoting Coal-fired power and the installation of electrical grids throughout the Underdeveloped World.  The probable outcome in terms of CO2 emissions of this policy is indicated by these estimates.

The improvements in lifestyle for the Underdeveloped world will progressively reduce the pressure for further population growth in those Nations.  The concomitant beneficial outcome for China will be the eventual technical and financial colonisation of much of the Underdeveloped World.

The USA on the other hand has already achieved substantial CO2 emissions reduction, about -25% since 2000 by the use of Fracked Gas rather than Coal for electricity generation.  This technical shift has resulted a far greater CO2 emissions reduction than achieved by the Kyoto Protocol or the Paris Climate Accord.  The USA’s continuing replacement of Coal by inexpensive Fracked gas for electricity generation is assumed to effect a further 15% reduction in its CO2 emissions.

The only Nations taking any real proactive account of their CO2 emissions are in Europe and possibly Canada.  The aspiration to get to “Net Zero CO2 emissions” is very unlikely to be achieved without the total loss of wellbeing in Europe and the destruction European economies.  It should be noted that the reduction of CO2 emissions/head/annum down to ~5.5tonnes/head in the UK is largely attributable to the UK “dash for Gas” policy, whereas the German “Energiewende” has not resulted in a similar CO2 emissions reduction.

Rather than achieving “Net Zero emissions”, more realistically, these estimates assume that Europe as a whole might reduce its CO2 emissions by a further 20%, but this would only amount to a reduction ~0.7Gigatonnes/annum.  Nonetheless even this level of CO2 emissions reduction would still be associated with massive self-harm to European economies.  This comparatively minor EU(28) CO2 emissions reduction of 0.7 Gigatonnes should be set against the inevitable CO2 emissions growth anticipated here initially of 18.5Gigatonnes/annum and possibly later up to 33.5Gigatonnes/annum.

The proportional percentage breakdown of this growth of CO2 emissions is shown below.

Screenshot 2020-02-13 at 14.15.01.png

Estimated Global Population Growth

Screenshot 2020-02-13 at 14.13.37.png

It is assumed that the bulk of population growth will arise in the Underdeveloped world, Rest of World (~160 Nations), growing by 30% and with India and the rapidly Developing Nations growing by ~20%.  This population growth can only be curbed by increasing development and urbanisation of the Underdeveloped world.  It is assumed that population growth in China will be more limited to about 10%.

The developed world would see only marginal population growth, with 5% growth in the USA and other Developed Nations, (JP CIS CA AU) and with virtually nil population growth in the EU(28).

The result is that Global population is likely to exceed ~9 billion by about 2100, of which the EU(28) share will reduce to from 6.8% to 5.7% of Global population.


The current, 2018 EU(28) CO2 emissions are 3.4Gigatonnes or about 10% of current Global CO2 emissions.  In the event of these two scenarios this EU(28) proportion of Global CO2 emissions will reduce to between 5.1% – 4.1%.  So a reduction of only 3.4 Gigatonnes/annum could be achieved by meeting the impossible target of Net Zero emissions in the EU(28).  Net Zero emissions achieved in the UK alone could only result in a CO2 reduction of 0.34Gigatonnes/annum.

However as soon as the Underdeveloped world gets access to centralised power the possibly viable 20% reduction for the EU(28) at 0.7Gigatonnes/annum would be entirely swamped by the inevitable additional CO2 emissions elsewhere in the World.

The likely CO2 emissions increases ranging from 18.5 – 33.5Gigatonnes/annum and puts the possible 20% reduction by the entire EU(28) of  ~0.7Gigatonnes in its true context. And as UK CO2 emissions are roughly 10% of the EU(28) total CO2 emissions, makes any efforts in CO2 emissions reduction in the UK even less significant.

In the context of the massive expansion of CO2 emissions from the Underdeveloped world, any CO2 reduction efforts in the EU(28) or just in the UK alone would be acts of massive self-harm and clearly futile.

Unsurprisingly, Russia, China and India are mocking the way Western governments have been induced by their “Green thinking and Virtue Signalling” to promote their policies of abject self-harm at great National cost and to no perceptible benefit.  This is amply supported by Western “useful idiots”, (Lenin’s term).

The developing and Eastern worlds are certainly not going to be meekly following the deranged example of the “virtue signalling” West.


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February 21, 2020 10:17 am

..or just go back to 1988..32 years ago….when the UN/IPCC was formed..to lower emissions…..and start counting from there

our USA emission are the same…the only increase in emissions has come from developing countries
…that we are supposed to pay

February 21, 2020 10:17 am

I don’t why CO2 is tracked other than to know what to charge the plebs by policies.


Reply to  Zoe Phin
February 21, 2020 11:26 am

It’s for lukewarmers, Zoe.

February 21, 2020 10:20 am

As has been repetitively stated here, if CO2-phobes genuinely believed that the only pathway to “stopping” climate change was wholesale abandonment of fossil fuels, they would rationally become the most ardent advocates of nuclear power generation.

Yet they actively reject embracing this logic.

So, could the whole “action on climate change” agenda be cloaking some other motives?

(I have my own suspicions, but even here, there are commenters who will label me a “conspiracy kook” if I expound my observations & conclusions on the situation :))

Doug S
Reply to  Mr.
February 21, 2020 10:27 am

., I think a very likely force behind the Climate scare story is the communists of the world. Perhaps Russia or perhaps China or both.

Reply to  Doug S
February 21, 2020 11:32 am

Doug, I think the top-tier architects of the climate capers aren’t restricted to ideologies established in any particular sovereign nations.

These architects see themselves as the “Masters of The Universe”. They flocked to the Club of Rome originally, and now infest the UN at all levels, and of course Davos, CoPs, G8, G10, G20 and the like.

Their main aim is being in control of whatever levers can be pulled to manipulate economies, populations, production, distribution, consumption etc. And of course a place at the trough of taxpayer-provided treasuries.

They have mastered the techniques of rounding up useful idiots to man the barricades of ’cause’ constructs that serve their nefarious interests. The “planet-saving” climate ‘crisis’ environmentalism cause is by far & away the best construct they have devised so far.

I think that in the greater scheme of things, it’s all evolution at work – the way things are going, in the not too distant future (in millennial scales), H0mo Sapiens will become H0mo Retardius.

D. Boss
Reply to  Mr.
February 22, 2020 4:09 am

Mr., have you seen MacRae’s essay:


Is an excellent overview of the radical greens, and their stated goals. Perpetrated by various Marxists and then populated by the “useful idiots”.

xxxx Retadius has already occurred. Since the middle of the last century, the socialist agenda has been infiltrating all levels of schooling and churning out brainwashed and dumbed down generations….

Reply to  Doug S
February 21, 2020 11:37 am

countries that are in direct competition…China mainly
…and the vast majority of countries that get paid

China has increased it’s emissions over 5 times more since the UN/IPCC was formed…
..China is not immune to droughts, floods, starvation, pestilence..and all the global warming crap

China is not suicidal….China just does not believe in global warming at all

(the rest of them are all getting paid to believe)

Reply to  Doug S
February 21, 2020 12:28 pm

You forget the West’s Fabian elitists at your peril Mr. Doug S.

Reply to  tom0mason
February 21, 2020 1:38 pm

Yes – the “long march through the institutions” has already been achieved, as far as I can observe.

But the Fabians are essentially another category of the “useful idiots” that the Club of Rome types make use of.

February 21, 2020 10:48 am

CO2 is so yesterday. Today, it’s methane. That said, we’ll always have carbon. “Plan” with a forward-looking perspective.

Reply to  n.n
February 21, 2020 4:36 pm

Yep. They can’t even keep their lies straight.

February 21, 2020 10:50 am

“Futility” is the right word. If the alarmists really believe CO2 will end the world as we know it then they need to figure out how to embrace it and develop a new world that we don’t know. The increase in productivity and new technology alone will be worth it and we won’t have to destroy everything that fossil fuels has given us. The CC scam is passing its’ use by date and most people are aware but the fervent refuse to believe. The saying is “politics makes for some strange bedfellows”.

February 21, 2020 10:56 am

Big damn deal…Humans are still less than 5% of total CO2 contributions, when natural emissions are included.
Termites put out more than we do.
Call Orkin. Give them the money we usually pay into the UN.

Reply to  Patvann
February 21, 2020 11:43 am

Call Orkin, maybe they can eliminate a few pests at the UN.

February 21, 2020 11:12 am

What does this mean in terms of RCP (Representative Concentration Pathway), ie. RCP 8.5, RCP 4.5, etc.?

Reply to  commieBob
February 21, 2020 11:42 am

RCP 8.5 is a UNIPCC scenario with 8.5 W/m2 additional forcing from IR supposedly radiated back at the earth.
Other RCPs have different amounts of forcing.

RCP 8.5 is a ridiculous unrealistic scenario used to scare the masses by the press.

Put RCP8.5 into the search box on WUWT, and you will find many posts.

Reply to  a_scientist
February 21, 2020 11:54 am

I was hoping someone could tell me how to relate the RCPs to the numbers in this article.

Izaak Walton
Reply to  commieBob
February 21, 2020 1:56 pm

RCP 8.5 has CO2 emissions peaking at 30 Gigatons of carbon per year. See

In contrast this post has CO2 emissions going up to between 50 and 65 Gt C/year so about
twice the emissions as RCP 8.5 which everyone here seems to think is completely ridiculous and a scary story used to frighten naughty children. So by the same logic the scenario here should be laughed at.

Mark BLR
Reply to  commieBob
February 22, 2020 3:44 am

I was hoping someone could tell me how to relate the RCPs to the numbers in this article.

AR5, WG1, Annex II (page 1410), Tables AII.2.1a (fossil fuel and industry) and AII.2.1c (totals) give “Anthropogenic CO2 emissions” numbers for each RCP scenario.

NB : 1 PgC (peta-gramme of carbon) = 1 GtC (giga-tonne of carbon) = 3.667 [= 11/3] GtCO2.

“The numbers in the article” are ~52 and ~67 GtCO2/yr, i.e. ~14.2 and ~18.3 GtC/yr.

The RCP2.6 and RCP4.5 “total” numbers peak at 9.97 (in 2020) and 11.46 (in 2040) respectively. Neither reaches the “range” considered in the article.

RCP6.0 goes above the 14.2 “lower limit” in 2060 but peaks at 17.07 in 2080 before starting to (slowly) fall again.

RCP8.5 blows past 14.2 (just) before 2030 and is above 20 by 2050, reaching 28.77 (i.e. 57% higher than the 18.3 “upper limit” of the ATL article) at the end of the century (2100).

Ron Long
February 21, 2020 11:32 am

Good posting. I am encouraged that my personal goal of 1,000 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere, before the next glacial cycle, is attainable. Keep on keeping on!

Tom Abbott
February 21, 2020 12:21 pm

From the article: “As France uses Nuclear power for electricity generation its has achieved the lowest CO2 emissions/head/annum of all Developed Nations. France has shown the way in which significant but not total Decarbonisation can be achieved in a Developed Nation. Irrationally, French policy now favours the reduction of its Nuclear fleet and the promotion of Weather Dependent Renewables.”

Yes, it is irrational for France to shut down their nuclear reactors. They ought to be building more of them instead. CO2 hysteria has driven Western leaders insane.

February 21, 2020 1:01 pm

This is another article which I classify as incomperably stupid and ignorant. Any article of future CO2 emissions which does not factor in the advent of Gen 4 molten salt small modular reactors simply cannot be considered
“intelligent.” These reactors are truly revolutionary in terms of cost, safety, and practicality (they can even load follow, eliminating most of the need for peak fossil fuel generation. Pay no attention to any article which tries to estimate the future while ignoring the obvious future technology.

Don K
Reply to  ColMosby
February 21, 2020 2:52 pm

Your confidence in an untested technology is touching, but perhaps a bit incautious. I’d point out that the Germans — who in my limited experience are possibly the world’s least incautious engineers managed to get into trouble with, of all things, a pebble bed reactor. So much so that they gave up on development of the things even though on paper, pebble beds are about as safe as you can get.

Gen IV, molten salt? By all means let’s build a few and run them for a decade or three and see what surprises the real world holds for us. Maybe they really are the future of nuclear power. We really will need to replace hydrocarbons in most applications in a century or three. Nature is still making hydrocarbon fuels. But at a rate much slower than mankind is burning them. Humanity will have to replace them with something in a century or three. I can’t see the world of say 2500 getting more than a modest fraction of its energy needs from renewables.

Nice article BTW. Not that its obvious reasonableness and good sense will have any influence on the determination of politicians to try all possible unworkable answers to the energy problem as quickly as possible.

Harry Passfield
February 21, 2020 1:10 pm

IMHO, a few – SCIENTIFIC – things need to happen here:

1. Get an agreement on whether CO2 follows temp, or the other way round. And if it doesn’t follow, why, when ice-cores say it does?
2. (assuming that CO2 is the Earth’s thermostat) Get an agreement on what is the defined proportion of CO2 emissions which are human emissions. And the proportion of what is (considered) man-made climate change as a result. IOW, if 1.5 is the tipping point, is that net, or is it yet to include natural CC (gross)? That being the case, what is the natural portion of the increase?

But of course, the ptb have played hard to get these questions ignored. If they were answered then – as I would expect, in truth – the whole thing would fall apart.

February 21, 2020 1:19 pm

What incontrovertible evidence do we have that anthropogenic CO2 increases earth’s temperature?

What insurmountable evidence do we have that CO2 sustains worldwide foodstuff production?

Now we’re talking!!

Reply to  RockyRoad
February 21, 2020 1:26 pm

A fraction of fraction… To the first, it’s plausible (e.g. inferred baseline), an ensemble of models (i.e. hypotheses), and a [sociopolitical] consensus of incontrovertible pedigree. To the second, observation, replication, and green… not Green.

February 21, 2020 1:49 pm

What that tells me is the climate kings are out for hefty national and international carbon taxes in order to hold back Rest of World and India while spending a lot on their own countries. So a 50-50 split of funds will hold the line domestically and create mostly chaos in developing countries. Well actually the chaos will be everywhere. In fact you might as well change the name of the planet to “Chaos”, confused third rock from the sun.

February 21, 2020 2:10 pm

“Underdevelopped areas”? would you consider *Wyoming, West Virginia… as such?

February 21, 2020 2:55 pm

I wonder how many people who fear CO2 even know what the definition of “futility” is.

I further wonder how many of these same people understand the concept of “quantifying”.

“Quantifying futility”, thus, might be completely out of their intellectual capabilities. They simply cannot grasp it. It’s like expecting dogs to fly.

People pushing CO2pocalypse are ruled by emotions rather than by rational thinking, which raises the fundamental question, “Can we teach dogs to fly?”

old white guy
February 22, 2020 5:17 am

given that CO2 is necessary for life on the planet and is not a pollutant, quantifying it is unnecessary. The only time actually knowing the level would be necessary is if it were dropping dramatically and threatening all life on the planet.

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