Every summer BP publish their statistical review of world energy.
One element of their comprehensive set of spreadsheets is a table of CO2 emissions country by country since 1965. For the purposes of this post, the CO2 emissions data provided by BP here is assumed to be valid.
The 2020 dataset takes begins to account for the effect of the COVID epidemic, its impact on Global economic activity and the outcome for Man-made CO2 emissions in that year.
The progress of the proportions of CO2 emissions since 1965 is shown above, with the Developed world now being responsible for about 35% of Man-made CO2 emissions as opposed to as much as 86% back in 1965.
The BP country by country data is aggregated here into seven Nation groups according to their nominal state of development and attitudes towards controlling CO2 emissions, as follows:
- JP CIS CA AU
- EU (28) inc UK
- Nominally Developing
- KR IR ZA MX SA BR ID TW
- China HK
- Rest of World (~160 Nations)
The aggregate data of CO2 emissions growth and change is summarised from 1965 onwards are shown above. The marked differential between the Developed and nominally Developing worlds is shown below.
The 2020 version of the CO2 emissions data shows:
- the recent radical effect of the COVID restrictions in 2020, particularly as they affect Western nations
- the Covid effect slowed CO2 emissions from the “Developing” world, except for relatively marginal growth of Man-made CO2 emissions from China in 2020.
- the virtual stabilisation of world emissions between 2012 – 2018.
- the continuing diminution of CO2 emissions from the Developed world from 2005 onwards.
- the growth of CO2 emissions throughout China, India and the Developing world is likely to resume from 2021 and onwards.
For the earlier post reporting the status of Man-made CO2 emissions as of 2019, see:
Representation by Region
The pie diagram above shows the proportion of CO2 emissions as of the end of 2020. These 2020 data are set out in tabular form below.
This analysis divides the world’s nations into seven logical groups with distinct attitudes to CO2 emissions control:
Developed nations: population ~1.2 billion – ~34.7% CO2 emissions – 15.4% population.
United States of America, now President Biden is negating many of Trump’s climate initiatives, including USA support for the Paris Climate accord: population 356m, 13.8% of global CO2 emissions. The USA, simply by exploiting shale gas for electricity generation, has already reduced its annual CO2 emissions by some by ~1,000,000,000 tonnes since 2005. That alone has already had a greater CO2 emission reduction effect than the entire Kyoto protocol and the Paris Climate Accord.
Japan, the former Soviet Union, (CIS), Canada and Australia, (JP CIS CA AU), are developed nations with some ambivalent towards controls on CO2 emissions and not necessarily adhering to the Paris Climate Accord: population 356m, 12.4% of global CO2 emissions.
The European Union(28), (including the United Kingdom): population 513m, 8.6% of global CO2 emissions, currently believing in action to combat Global Warming, and their governments are generally enthusiastic supporters of the Paris Climate Accord as the European Union.
However, it should be noted that the populace of the EU(28) is losing enthusiasm for Green agendas as the peoples understand the substantial changes to their lifestyles and personal economies and freedoms that are implied by their governments actions to pursue the Green agenda, for example:
- the Yellow Vests reaction in France to increase of fuel taxes on grounds of combatting climate change.
- subsidy support for Renewables is being curtailed, particularly in Germany, where it is likely that the pioneering commitments to Renewable Energy of the past 25 years will not retain subsidy support and will be abandoned as being financially non-viable in the near future.
Nominally Developing nations: population ~6.6 billion – 65.3% CO2 emissions – 84.6% population.
South Korea, Iran, South Africa, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Indonesia and Taiwan, (KR IR ZA MX SA BR ID TW): the more advanced developing nations, are still growing rapidly, with minimal commitments under the Paris Climate accord: population 910m, 12.0% of Global CO2 emissions.
China and Hong Kong: developing very rapidly, with no effective commitments under the Paris Climate Accord: population 1,439m, 30.9% of Global CO2 emissions. China is responsible for the continuing development of its own Coal-Fired installations, multiple Coal-fired installations in the Third World and for the development Fracking for its own Gas fields, nonetheless its actions are not restricted by the Paris Climate Accord. China has made gestures towards Renewable Energy, but now is withdrawing subsidy support. China has benefitted substantially from Solar PV and other Renewables manufacture. At the same time, China is advancing the development of new generations of Nuclear power.
India is developing rapidly from a low base with no virtually commitments under the Paris Climate Accord: population 1,339m: 7.1% of Global CO2 emissions. India is continuing the rapid development of its own Coal-Fired installations. Although India makes gestures towards Renewable Energy, its actions reject the Paris Climate Accord. At the same time, India is advancing the development of new generations of Nuclear power.
Rest of World (~160 Nations), population 2,865m: 15.2% CO2 emissions, like India the remainder of the underdeveloped world is developing rapidly from a low base of ~1.72 tonnes CO2/head. These nations have no real commitments under the Paris Climate Accord, other than their anticipated receipt of “Climate Funds” from Developed nations.
Even as long ago as October 2010 Professor Richard Muller made the dilemma for all those who hope to control global warming by reducing CO2 emissions from Western Nations, very clear. In essence he said:
“the Developing World is not joining-in with CO2 emission reductions nor should it have any intention of doing so. The failure of worldwide action negates the unilateral action of any individual Western Nation and the West will become increasingly irrelevant”.
By 2020 CO2 emissions from the Developing world were ~65% of the global total. India, China and the underdeveloped world will certainly be continuing to promote their own development with the ambition to progress to comparable levels of well-being to the Developed Nations.
Contrasting the Developed and Developing worlds
Developing world emissions overtook Developed world CO2 emissions in 2005 and they have been growing ever since. CO2 emissions from the Developing world are now ~10,000 million tonnes higher than the Developed world’s emissions. It is to be expected that Developing world CO2 emissions to continue to grow unabated.
However the COVID effect has meant that in 2020 overall:
- the Global Man-made CO2 emissions fell by 1,885 million tonnes to 32,284 million tonnes with CO2 emissions / head reduced from 4.43 tonnes to 4.14 tonnes on average.
- the Developed world reduced its Man-made CO2 emissions by ~1,400 million tonnes(~11%),with CO2 emissions / head reduced from 10.56 tonnes to 9.35 tonnes on average.
- the Developing world only reduced its Man-made CO2 emissions by ~450 million tonnes, (~2%) with CO2 emissions / head reduced from 3.30 tonnes to 3.19 tonnes on average.
Up until 2020, CO2 emissions in the Developing world were accelerating as the quality of lives for people improved progressively. That CO2 emissions growth are likely to further escalate in future as the Chinese develop Coal-fired power stations both at home and via the “Belt and Road programme” throughout the developing world. Even so, at present at least ~1.12 billion people, ~15% of the global population, still have no access to reliable electric power.
Since 1990 CO2 emissions from the Developed world have decreased, whereas the Developing world has shown a fourfold increase since 1985. This differential has arisen as a result of:
- to the off-shoring of major CO2 emitting industries to parts of the world that have less rigorous environmental standards or who are less concerned about CO2 emissions.
- the growing use of Coal-firing for electricity generation, the most economic option in the Developing world, particularly as supported by Chinese technology exports via its “Belt and Road Programme”.
- the use of Fracked natural gas for electricity generation as opposed to Coal-firing as in the USA.
- the earlier 1990s “dash for gas” policy in the UK.
- the long-term dependence on Nuclear power, ~80% of power generation in France.
Having been relatively stable for the previous 5 years, as a result of the COVID effect overall Global CO2 emissions fell in 2020 by about 6.0%. The Developing world has reduced CO2 emissions as a result of COVID but the effect was only marginal when compared to the reductions in the Developed world.
On the other hand, Weather Dependent Renewables, have made very little contribution to CO2 emissions reduction, if at all. When looked at in the round, from their manufacture to demolition, they are hardly CO2 emissions nor energy neutral over their service life.
The use of Biomass for electricity generation, although considered to be “carbon neutral by policy”, actually increases the immediate release of CO2 to the atmosphere, producing almost twice as much CO2 as the use of Coal for power generation. It has been assessed that the whole exercise to substitute Coal firing by Biomass at the UK Drax power plant has negated all the possible CO2 savings that have been made from the extensive installations of Wind and Solar power in the UK.
Recent CO2 emissions changes and the COVID effect
The radical changes indicating recent CO2 emissions reduction from COVID can be seen in the graphic below.
It is clear above that the major reductions in CO2 emissions from COVID have occurred in the Developed world, particularly in Europe and the USA, whereas in the Developing world the COVID CO2 reduction outcomes have been relatively minor.
Global CO2 emissions had previously plateaued, but in the period 2016-2019 they have shown a significant uplift. Unsurprisingly the emissions growth has mainly occurred in the developing nation groups India and the Rest of World as their quality of life is progressively improved. After a fall in 2015 – 2016 in 2017 – 2020 the was an uplift in Chinese emissions. In spite of the COVID effect, China was the only territory to increase its Man-made CO2 emissions in 2020.
Notably the only Nation that had consistently reduced its CO2 emissions was the USA, that reduction resumed further in 2020.
With increasing installation of Coal-Fired generation throughout the developing world it is now inevitable that Global CO2 emissions will continue to grow significantly, entirely negating the objectives of the Paris Climate accord.
CO2 emissions / head
Possibly more significant than the total CO2 emissions output is the comparison of the CO2 emissions / head for the various nation groups. This measure represents the level of development of various Nations.
The USA has already reduced its CO2 emissions/head by 1/3 since 2000. This has mainly arisen from the substitution of shale gas for electricity generation replacing Coal-firing.
Russia, Japan, Canada and Australia have hardly grown their emissions/head since 2005 but saw a reduction in CO2 emissions as a result of COVID.
The EU(28) with active legal measures had reduced emissions until ~2013. Much of that downward trend is largely attributed to their declining economies and the displacement of industrial processes to countries with laxer environmental regimes. The COVID effect was particularly acute in the EU(28) and Co2
In 2003 China overtook the world-wide average for CO2 emissions / head and surpassed the rapidly developing nations. China’s emissions / head have increased in 2020 to ~6.93 tonnes / head. China and the EU(28) emissions/ head were closely aligned from 2014 to 2019. With the COVID effect in Europe CO2 emission/head have reduced to 5.40 tonnes/head whereas China has now surpassed the whole EU(28) at ~6.93 tonnes / head.
India’s CO2 emissions have grown by 4.7 times since 1965 and are now accelerating. That emissions rate is likely to grow continuously with increased use of coal for electricity generation.
India and the bulk of the underdeveloped nations, (~55% of the world’s population), still remain at a low level of CO2 emissions levels/head now of about ~1.72 tonnes/head, this level is about 1/8 of the level of the USA and about 1/3 of the level in the EU(28) and China. As a result, these under-developed Nations have poor access to reliable power and substantial potential for further CO2 emissions growth.
The CO2 emission reduction has not been achieved by the introduction of Weather Dependent Renewables, which will always require ancillary dispatchable back-up to compensate for their intermittent unreliability. In addition their raw material requirements, manufacture, installation, etc. will always continue to need substantial fossil fuel input.
Russia is actively involved in backing anti-fracking campaigns throughout Europe and in the USA via its support of various NGO groups. This is an obvious policy to protect the large Gasprom markets for Russian Gas in the West. This also achieves an energy stranglehold on Western nations, as already demonstrated in the Ukraine. The German commitment to the Nordstream pipelines under the Baltic further confirm Western Europe’s vulnerability to Russian control of its energy supplies. The export of Fracked gas from the USA to Europe and the possibility of indigenous fracking might break such a stranglehold, if the local protests can be ignored.
CO2 emissions / head for India and the Rest of the World’s Underdeveloped nations (~53% of the world population) remains low at ~1.7 tonnes / head, (still ~40% of the Global average) meaning that their state of serious human deprivation and underdevelopment is continuing, even though it is progressively being rectified.
India’s growth in CO2 emissions 2018 – 2018 was by a further 162,000,000 tonnes. India has some 450 new Coal-fired generation plants currently under development.
China, (still nominally considered here as a “Developing Nation”), according to its un-concerned attitude to the Paris climate accord, showed domestic CO2 emission growth of 2.14%, 314,000,000 tonnes in 2019. However, China is also promoting the use of Coal-firing for electricity generation both domestically, (300 – 500 Coal-fired plants) and across the Developing world with some 300 new Coal-fired generating plants currently in the pipeline.
European Union (28) CO2 Emissions
When the participating nations particularly in the environmentally active / Green aware EU are compared with Chinese CO2 emissions/head, the following picture arises.
In 2020 average EU(28) CO2 emissions/head, post COVID, (5.40 tonnes/head), are now well exceeded by China. (6.93 tonnes/head). EU(28) CO2 emissions overall have fallen slightly in 2020, notably in Germany and remarkably further in France The UK has seen a significant drop in CO2 emissions reaching 5.46 tonnes/head in 2019, approaching the Global average for CO2 emissions / head.
At 3.58 tonnes/head, post COVID France, now has the lowest CO2 emission rates in the developed world, well below the global average. This is entirely due to the French long-term commitments to electricity generation by Nuclear energy. The French experience shows that comparatively low CO2 emissions can be achieved in a developed country by using consistent Nuclear power supplies.
France as a Developed country has a unique performance of limiting its CO2 emissions must question the logic of Green attitudes in opposing of Nuclear power. If CO2 emissions really were a concern to arrest Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming / Man-made Climate Change, these results, particularly from France, show starkly the very real advantage of using Nuclear power for electricity generation. So, President Macron’s stated intention to reduce Nuclear generation from ~75% to 50% is particularly anachronistic. Green attitudes in the French government are now threatening to destroy this unique low-carbon French national asset.
At 7.41 tonnes/head, Germany virtually is alone amongst the EU(28) still just exceeds the CO2 emissions/head level of China and is well above the EU(28) average, in spite of its major costly policy of “die Energiewende” resulting in the world’s highest power costs. Germany, one of the largest CO2 emitters in Europe, has emissions/head about twice the worldwide average but it is only ~21% higher than China. Germany’s emissions / head had increased recently because they are now burning large quantities of brown coal to compensate for the “irrational” closure of their nuclear generating capacity. Following the Fukushima disaster, the German government position of rapidly eliminating nuclear power in a country with no earthquake risk and no chance of tsunamis is an emotional reaction and should have been non-tenable.
In 2020 the UK was responsible for just 1.0%, (319,000,000 tonnes) of the 2020 total 32,284,000,000 tonnes of global CO2 emissions. The UK government has now committed to reduce CO2 emissions to net Zero by 2050 at an estimated cost well in excess of some £1,000,000,000,000. Any attempt to reduce the insignificant UK CO2 emissions at enormous cost would therefore seem entirely fatuous in the context of inevitable CO2 emissions growth worldwide.
The futility of Western de-carbonisation
Although they hesitated for a moment as a result of COVID, it is clear that CO2 emissions are continuing to grow in the Developing World and they can expected to continue virtually indefinitely.
Western industrial companies will seek more congenial energy / business environments, with laxer attitudes towards CO2 emissions to maintain the performance of their businesses. So, the futility of the expenditure of vast resources on Green activities in Europe and throughout the Western world is clear.
When the changes in Global CO2 emissions over the past 30 years are set against the measured of Global CO2 concentration records from Mauna Loa, it can be seen that changes in Man-made CO2 emissions have not caused any appreciable inflection in the Keeling curve.
But the self-harming actions of the Western Governments in response to Alarmist Green thinking are already causing gross risks to Western energy security by the imposition of unreliable and intermittent Weather Dependent Renewables. These policies will result in substantially increased costs for private energy users and in addition they will severely damage the economics of all Western manufacturing industries.
The effective elimination of Fracking as a technique for fossil fuel recovery in Western Europe is self-inflicted harm by “Green Virtue Signalling” have been to the financial benefit of Russia and China in the continuation of “a less than covert Cold War”.
The environmental context of atmospheric CO2
Any CO2 reduction policy should also be seen in a longer-term context.
- according to reliable Ice Core records the last millennium 1000 – 2000 AD was the coldest of our current Holocene interglacial and the world had already been cooling comparatively rapidly for the last 3000 years, in fact since before Roman times ~1000 BC.
- the modern short pulse of beneficial Global Warming stopped some 20 years ago and recent global temperatures are now stable or declining.
- at 11,000 years long, our congenial Holocene interglacial, responsible for all man-kind’s advances, from living in caves to microprocessors, is coming to it’s eventual end.
- so, the World will very soon, (on a geological time scale), revert to a true glaciation, again resulting in mile high ice sheets over New York
- in colder times the weather gets worse because of the energy differential between the poles and the tropics and Man-kind’s survival will be made more difficult.
- plant productivity is hampered in colder weather: any cooling can immediately lead to agricultural losses, as has already been seen in the last two growing seasons, 2020-2021, at the present Solar minimum.
- however, it should now be realised that even a doubling of the level of atmospheric CO2 whether from natural or man-made sources can now only affect global temperature very marginally.
The prospect of even moving in a cooling direction is something to be truly concerned about both for the biosphere and for the survival of man-kind.
An excellent way to undermine Western economies is to render their power generation unreliable and expensive. That objective of Green thinking is progressively being achieved by Government policy but without popular voter mandate throughout the Western world.
Spending any effort, for solely emotional and in the quasi-religious belief in the evil of Man-made CO2 emissions, without true cost benefit analysis and without full engineering due diligence for any proposed technical solutions, let alone at GDP scale costs, trying to stop the UK’s 1.0% or the EU’s 8.6% of something that has not been happening for 3 millennia has to be monumentally ill-considered and ill-advised.
An estimate of the additional 60 year lifetime costs of some €2 trillion that has already been committed for the current installation of Weather Dependent Renewables in Europe. According to Bjorn Lomborg the ~€125billion German investment in solar power not including other Weather Dependent Renewable investments, could only ever reduce the onset of Global Warming by a matter of a few hours by the year 2100, if at all.
And more recently Bjorn Lomborg has produced evidence that the total effect of any agreement in the terms proposed in Paris could only control future warming in 2100 by less than 0.2°C.