2011-11-16 15:06:13Changing the Direction of the Climate
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.101.55

Follow-up to Andy's IEA report post.

Changing the Direction of the Climate

2011-11-16 15:25:18CO2/CO2e
Glenn Tamblyn

glenn@thefoodgallery.com...
138.217.118.153

Only had time for a quick skim Dana but what leaps out at me is that at the beginning yoiur refer to CO2 Equivalent then most other times to just CO2. The difference between these two is critical, both for what the targets need to be and also how we communicate it. This needs clarifying and perhaps strengthening.

2011-11-16 16:06:39
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.101.55

Hmm that is a bit odd, because their spreadsheet gives CO2 emissions, not CO2-eq.  And just CO2 barely stays below 450.  Andy, you got any insight on this?

2011-11-16 17:24:01
Andy S

skucea@telus...
66.183.185.188
No, I'll have to re-read the report to see how they handled the airborne fraction, cement, land use etc. Certainly the emissions in the first figure are fossil fuel only.
2011-11-16 17:56:02
Andy S

skucea@telus...
66.183.185.188
The non ff emissions amount to about an additional 50% over and above the ff emissions. The 450 target is a co2 equivalent target. I'm not sure how they handle the airborne fraction, presumably with some kind of parameterized Bern model, but I'll se if I can find it in the report. (I'm only using an iPad right now, so no links or cut&paste possible.)
2011-11-16 18:25:30
Andy S

skucea@telus...
66.183.185.188

There's a description of the IEA 450 case on page 31 of this doc, which I'd linked to in my original post.

Not a very clear or satisfactory explanation. They do say the target zone ranges above 450 ppm to about 490. Added later: that should read 445-490 ppm

2011-11-16 21:16:26
rustneversleeps
George Morrison
george.morrison2@sympatico...
65.95.191.240

We are in such desperate straits trying to limit concentrations to 450 ppm or as near to it, that I am becoming increasingly convinced that discussion of 350 ppm is a distraction. At best. It's like we are on a runaway train and a bunch of people are standing in the caboose pointing at some receding station that we long-ago zoomed past without stopping and saying "we should have stopped there". It's not helping with the immediate problem, which is trying to stop the train. We have to do that first.

I could go on, and I'm not talking about your brief reference to it here. It's just something I have been thinking about quite a lot lately. I am working with the Citizen's Climate Lobby in Canada, and we have a petition going to a Member of Parliament who was instrumental in forming the all-party climate caucus in the current House. Anyway, the short petition is thick with references to 350ppm. The point of the petition is not to be a magnum opus on climate science, or draft legislation. It fulfills a procedural requirement for calling hearings and other initiatives for MPs (and the petition was at the MP's request, although the wording was ours). But I keep wondering what the point is of bringing up 350 when it is so outside the current international targets, which we aren't meeting anyway, and we are so desperate to stop increases first. I lost that battle to change the text - badly, and it seems fraught with potential to make enemies of allies. And the ironic/crazy thing is that I think I am MORE concerned about our urgent circumstances than the members of our group who are gung-ho for 350. I don't think we have time to waste on discussions about whether the number should be 450 or 350. Get on with it, for crissakes.

I understand the 350 case, and I have nothing but admiration for the mobilization that Bill McKibben has created - so it's "working" in that respect. But we are in triage here. Now.
(Sorry, this is pretty much off-topic, it's just that the post's subject brought it to mind.)

2011-11-17 03:50:28
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

"They do say the target zone ranges above 450 ppm to about 490"

That would make more sense in terms of the numbers.  Kind of defeats the purpose of calling the scenario 450 though!  I'll have to look at the report again tonight.

2011-11-17 06:07:31
Andy S

skucea@telus...
66.183.185.188

I have found this IEA document, which is out of date (2007) but I think it will be helpful in understanding the IEA  methodology and the link to the IPCC SRES. I haven't read it carefully yet.

There's this table:

The multigas concentration target range is exactly the same as in the 2011 IEA doc I referred to and linked above. Obviously, this can't be the same trajectory as the WEO2011 case because this one peaks before 2012.

This table is the same as Table 5.1in Climate Change 2007:Synthesis Report

From the IEA 2007 document, there's this figure. It shows the amounts of FF CO2 and other GHG's used in their 2007 450 stabilisation case

My guess, based on a flimsy understanding of the process, is that the IEA has updated their 2007 450 model for 2011. I think what they did in 2011 was to take the CO2 eq profile from the IPCC 450 stabilsation model (I'm not sure which of the models they chose, Bern, Hadley or UVic, see Fig 10.21 here), calculated a fraction for the FF vs the non FF emissions and some fixed emissions rate for land use and cement, calculated the FF emissions and then figured out the energy sources that would fit the FF (energy) CO2 profile.

Im getting out of my depth here, since I really haven't studied this stuff carefully. I may write to the IEA to see if they can explain in more detail the process behind their 2011 450 model.

Real life is interfering with my available time to spend on this in the next few days.

2011-11-17 07:22:42
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

It still confuses me that the IEA 2011 report has CO2 from energy alone pushing atmospheric CO2 up to about 450 ppm (~435 ppm in 2035).  Based on Andy's table above, you need to add ~90 ppm CO2-eq for other GHGs, which would push the CO2-eq up to about 540 ppm.  Yet their text claims the 450 scenario shoots for 450 ppm CO2-eq.

In fact, we should already be above 450 ppm CO2-eq, if those numbers are right.

2011-11-17 07:53:05
Andy S

skucea@telus...
66.183.185.188

Here's a snapshot of a table from the 2011WEO showing the actual emissions they used forthe scenarios. LULUCF means land use, land use changes and forestry, they used the same value for each scenario for this factor.

2011-11-17 08:01:46
Andy S

skucea@telus...
66.183.185.188

Dana, I'm guessing that the difference lies in the atmospheric fraction derived from the Bern or other CO2 impulse model. But I'm out of my depth and bluffing here, so please correct me if when I'm wrong. 

2011-11-17 08:55:05
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Yeah I'm out of my depth on that subject too.  It could be that I'm overestimating the resulting atmospheric CO2 concentration with my back-of-the-envelope calculation.

2011-11-17 11:55:52Andy S
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

Perhaps you should contact one of the authors of the IEA report?

2011-11-21 04:15:46
rustneversleeps
George Morrison
george.morrison2@sympatico...
65.95.191.240

Just as an fyi, it seems to me that the IEA 2011 emissions data and analysis is freely available online as a standalone report. Have only glanced at it, but just thought I would "bookmark" it here.

2011-11-30 03:09:29
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

I'm going to try to get this in publishable shape for tomorrow.  Still not sure about the CO2 equivalent issue, but it's a worthwhile post to publish even without that detail hammered out.  Let me know if there are any other comments, or thoughts on the CO2 equivalent issue.

2011-11-30 04:51:50
rustneversleeps
George Morrison
george.morrison2@sympatico...
198.96.178.33

Frankly, I think at some point we might editorialize about the frustration of not having a common language amongst analyses so that assessments can be readily compared. I.e., maybe:

  • expressed consistently in CO2eq, and perhaps with parallel carbon as well because of it's long-life in the atmosphere.
  • consistent dates along the emission pathways (e.g. IEA does not seem to model to 2050 or beyond... what are the 450 assumptions there?)
  • consistent reporting of cumulative emissions to certain dates on the pathways (otherwise, an early shortfall in action may not be accounted for in "make-up" reductions in the later stages of the pathway)
  • some discussion of what the implied annual reduction rates are between various benchmark dates (for comparison between models, and for understanding the implications of that rate of change)
  • the assumed likelihood of breaching temperature targets for each (median) scenario (e.g. 50%, 66%, 75%, etc.)

I do think it is great that the IEA is plainly stating the need for action. But the fact that they are ignoring emissions from other than fossil fuels combustion (and, admittedly, maybe this is legitimately the limit of their expertise/purview) means that this report is very difficult to compare.

For instance, if you look at Andy's Table 6.1 above, Total CO2eq emissions stay flat from 2009 to 2020 (47.1 GtC). But if you look at the emission subsectors, there is one - and only one - ghg emission amount that rises from 2009 to 2020. Surprise! It's CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion! Up over 10%.

So, in other words, the IEA appears to be achieving its 450 Scenario by initially making all the other sectors do the heavy lifting. Now, they do provide that Table, so it's not actually deceptive, but it makes it frustratingly difficult to assess relative to the Australian Critical Decade or UNEP Bridging the Emissions Gap, and many others. Furthermore, as I understand it, for some of those other sectors, emissions may be more difficult to reduce than for "CO2-energy".

I'm not picking on the IEA. I think everyone is trying to muddle through, but it does make it somewhat difficult to make comparisons.

This "Overview of key characteristics" below, from the UNEP report does some things better, but even their reporting leaves much to be desired. You'll note that for their "likely to avoid 2C" scenario for 2020, they have 2020 emissions at 44GtCO2e. This compares to the IEA 2020 GtCO2e of 47.1. But how many cumulative GtCO2e would the UNEP scenario imply? We don't know, because they don't seem to break out their pathway during the intervening 10 years (see the first asterixed point in the table).

Anyway, it's small wonder that the negotiations can seem such a morass...

(I will try to figure out how to make the image smaller... thought it was small when I loaded it...)

2011-11-30 05:15:18
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

To make an image smaller, in the insert image tool click the Appearance tab and then change the dimensions so that it's 500 pixels wide.

Good catch that the IEA 450 scenario has non-fossil fuel CO2 emissions declining immediately.  Also other GHGs.  That may explain the discrepancy between CO2 and CO2 equivalent emissions that we've been missing.

2011-12-01 03:04:05
MarkR
Mark Richardson
m.t.richardson2@gmail...
192.171.166.133

I'm uncomfortable with the titling 'The time to change direction is now'.

 

I know it gets a point across, and I agree with you, but I like SkS to be careful with its political advocacy.

2011-12-01 03:25:12
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

That's a quote from the IEA, although it's certainly true, as the post makes clear.