2011-06-05 09:37:43The Critical Decade - Part 3: Implications for Emissions Reductions
Dana Nuccitelli

Last chapter of the report.  I tried to strike the right balance, pointing out that we're not screwed yet, but we're getting really damn close.  Hopefully I got the tone right.

The Critical Decade - Part 3: Implications for Emissions Reductions

2011-06-05 15:17:27
Rob Painting

Fine by me.

2011-06-06 06:44:04
Andy S


Looks good, I tried to find some errors but failed. It's good that you took pains to distinguish your words from theirs, I thought that some of their bullet points were poorly worded and confusing.

For example: 

About 15-20% of net CO2 emissions globally have originated from land ecosystems, primarily from deforestation. This represents the removal of carbon from a stock in the active atmosphere-land-ocean carbon cycle. It does not introduce any additional carbon into the atmosphere-land-ocean system, but simply redistributes it.

By "net" CO2 emissions they actually mean gross anthropogenic emissions.

Their point about the temporary nature of most offsets is a good one but I thought they expressed it badly and that you did a better job of summarizing it.

2011-06-06 13:49:51
Dana Nuccitelli

Thanks Andy.  I agree, the temporary nature of biosphere offsets was a really good point, and one I hadn't considered before.

2011-06-07 21:57:57Important post
James Wight


The Climate Commission is accused of saying what the Government wants to hear, but I highly doubt the Government was happy about Steffen recommending the budget approach!

2011-06-07 22:07:55PS
James Wight


I would emphasize that that curve is for global emissions, to be clear about the scale of the task.

2011-06-08 00:52:57
Dana Nuccitelli

Thanks James, change made.

2011-06-08 03:45:46
George Morrison

Further to James' point about "global" emissions... Those three curves from the WGBU showing "maximum reduction rate" given certain assumptions about peaking dates - I find they actually obscure some really disturbing "reduction rates" underneath the covers.

Certain segments of the economy are going to be much less tractable than others with respect to carbon emission reductions. For instance, the near-term prospects for agriculture emissions; or the most optimistic forecasts for the percentage of carbon-stock-levels-remaining in extant forests. These show little opportunity for significant, long-term sustainable reduction rates.

So the "slack" has to be taken up by (primarily) energy systems emissions.

Likewise, it's hard to see how we can expect, say Peru or Cameroon or Haiti to be expected to reduce as quickly as the developed nations (you can argue that everyone has to contribute, but bear with me for argument's sake.)

Given these kinds of assumptions, Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows' work indicates that IF the Annex 1 nations (I know, that is so "Kyoto"!) developed nations started collectively reducing emissions NOW (they're not, as far as I know), then their energy emissions would have to be reducing by about 8% per annum by 2015, and then by about 20% per annum after ~ 2020.

I know that those numbers look "impossible", but if you actually look at a budget approach for limiting global carbon emissions to ~ 1 trillion tonnes (and a 2C temperature rise), and you allow for some differentation in plausible reduction rates for different parts of the economy - these are the stark realities you face.

Maybe that's just stating the obvious - since few would assume that every sector would magically reduce at the same rate.

It's just that I sometimes feel that the WGBU curves - scary as they are - actually tend to understate the decarbonization challenge.

No, I don't think this conversation belongs in Dana's post - which is good coverage of the Australian report. It's just that it's become a bit of a peeve of mine...

Good post Dana, as always.

2011-06-08 04:01:51
Dana Nuccitelli

Thanks rust.  Actually in the recent IEA emissions report, they noted that about 80% of the power stations likely to be in use in 2020 are either already built or under construction, which means we're "locked in" for continued emissions from these power plants.  So it's hard to see an 8% annual reduction in CO2 emissions from energy over that period.

It's really hard not to be pessimistic about all this.

2011-06-08 23:59:45
James Wight


I agree with rustneversleeps.