2021-01-01

Have we reached peak CO2 emissions yet?

50735769393_7be4a73eb1_o Have we reached peak CO2 emissions yet? wonder Ken Caldeira and Ted Nordhaus. There's all of $2k at stake, with KC taking "no" and TN "yes". TN's argument is that it would have peaked mid-20's, but the Covid-decline of ~7% means the peak is now past. KC is more optimistic about the South's econ dev, and more skeptical of new tech.

I'm not sure; it's an interesting question. I'm inclined to believe in a rapid recovery from Covid, looking somewhat on the bright side by hoping for a not-too-badly-fucked-up-vaccination, but a recovery probably accompanied by much more homeworking, which will help suppress emissions. And I'm more optimistic than KC about new solar+wind+tech-in-general, and China and India's adoption of it, and decline in their usage of coal.

Nordhaus expands on his reasoning.

 My pic is of Christmas Unikitty who, let me remind you, will tolerate No Negativity At All (as seen as a full-size model in the local Grand Arcade).

Betting

Per comments, we have our own betting ring running:

* Anteros: offers £150 (to my £100) of KC's side, up to 2023.

* rustneversleeps: $100 of KC's side, up to 2022.

* Tom: $50 of KC's side, up to 2022 (I presume).

All bets in your preferred currency. I'm not sure exactly what we use as CO2 emissions data... we'll have to be gentlemanly about it; probably (per comments Global Carbon Project). I propose that if it is "close" - defined in some sensible way, possibly as in different data sets give different answers - then the bets are void; they only pay if the answer is "clear".

Refs


* And at ATTP.

22 comments:

David B. Benson said...

Peak? Not a chance. Both India and China are building more coal burners not to mention contributions from Southeast Asia...

William M. Connolley said...

OK, so I'm going to take TN's side, but I'm not interested in long bets. Anyone want to bet that 2022 (I'd prefer 2021 but I can see why folks might not like that) will have higher emissions than the peak? I've got... anywhere from $100 to $1000 to put down.

Anteros said...

On the grounds that population is increasing by about 80 million a year and wealth by about 2% per year, I don't think a bit more wind and solar is going to stop the rise in emissions. If you'd include 2023 as well as 2022, I'd offer 150 to your 100. Euros or pounds, up to you. And I can't see a reason not to include cement..

Tom said...

My money would be on not having reached peak emissions. Population is increasing, as another commenter noted, and more people are moving out of the energy starvation type of poverty that signals widespread adoption of refrigeration, air conditioning, automobile/motorbike purchases. Air travel will recover, maritime shipping as well.

Energy conversion is still largely coal to gas, not everything to renewable.

Really hope I'm wrong, but last time I did the back of the envelope thing (in 2015), it looked like peak emissions around 2050.

William M. Connolley said...

I see no reason to exclude cement, it's total CO2 that counts. Did the others? As for your offer: oh go on then.

Tom: you money "would"? Does that mean you're in or not?

tidal said...

I'd like to take KC's side of the bet for a sweet $100 from your wallet, WC.

Through 2022, including emissions from industry (roughly like to like with the number for "Fossil CO2 Emissions" in the GCP - which includes cement even if TN and KC are not (some confusion there).

I think there will be a strong post-Covid rebound effect, especially amongst the x% who combust 50%. And I think the govt climate/infrastructure stimulus itself to build a $trillion or so worth of steel, concrete, aluminum, PV, etc. contributes to give us one last blow-off peak. Pretty sure the CO2-payback time on all that kit tilts in KC's favour as well.


Here's to hoping I am wrong!
George Morrison / rustneversleeps

Anteros said...

Well this is exciting - I'd better start saving my pocket money. Can I assume we're gambling pounds sterling? Note to self... If (as is plausible) I lose the bet but subsequent years exceed 2019 emissions, I shall not whinge as nobody twisted my arm into suggesting the terms of the bet.

Tom said...

Yes, I'm in. Big time. Fifty USD okay?

William M. Connolley said...

OK, so I think so far we're at:

* Anteros: offers £150 (to my £100) of KC's side, up to 2023.
* rustneversleeps: $100 of KC's side, up to 2022.
* Tom: $50 of KC's side, up to 2022 (I presume).

All bets in your preferred currency. I'm not sure exactly what we use as CO2 emissions data... we'll have to be gentlemanly about it. I propose that if it is "close" - defined in some sensible way, possibly as in different data sets give different answers - then the bets are void; they only pay if the answer is "clear".

Anyone else?

Anteros said...

Gentlemanly is good... Isnt there a dataset we can agree to use? Doesn't the BP review include CO2 emissions?
If there's a dispute I'd be happy to be bound by James Annan's verdict on the matter.

tidal said...

They are using the (final) Global Carbon Project numbers for the other bet, with a backup dataset, presumably in case the GCP or its methodology changes in 10 years.

I would be up for stipulating the GCP "Fossil CO2 Emissions" (which includes cement and flaring) as the bogey, but I am easy.

fyi, Glen Peters shared the recent (i.e. Oct19 vs Oct20) CO2 emissions data.

https://twitter.com/Peters_Glen/status/1345643056645644288?s=19

Emissions seem to be recovering faster than the economy, already back to the same levels for power, industry and residential...

Tom said...

WMC, can we rely on you to update us all on progress? I tend to forget I have placed a wager...

Anteros said...

I agree with Tidal about using the Global Carbon Project data (tho' I, too, am easy...)

William M. Connolley said...

OK, so, I have formalised the bets in the body of the blog; and lest I cheat, there's an archive of it.

Tom (and others): yes, I'll have to remember to monitor progress at each year's end.

Anteros said...

I'm not sure I agree (in fact I'm fairly sure I don't) with the vagueness around 'close'. It's extremely likely to be close, and quite likely to be extremely close, so surely - if we're interested in getting a result one way or another - we should specify a dataset and live with the result. I'd much rather lose by a whisker than have the bet voided by the existence of some dataset somewhere that produced a contrary result.

William M. Connolley said...

I did the same with the sea ice bets. I don't think that winning by 0.00001% or the thickness of a line on a plot should count.

Anteros said...

Ok, fair enough. Will 100M tons of clear CO2 between the years be sufficient?

William M. Connolley said...

Sounds OK.

tidal said...

*Very* preliminary CO₂ emissions data for 2020. (From new-kid-on-the-block CarbonMonitor, not GCP, etc.)

COVID curbed carbon emissions in 2020 — but not by much

Jeff Tollefson, Nature, 15 JANUARY 2021

"Despite sharp drops early in the pandemic, global emissions of carbon dioxide picked up in the second half of the year, new data show."
[...]
"Researchers published emissions data for the first half of 2020 in October1, but provided a complete set to Nature this week."

Phil said...

EU electric car sales are up to 10% of total sales. USA is about 2%

As a car is a long lived asset, perhaps 1% of the cars on the road in the EU are EVs.

EVs are not going to make a significant decrease in the carbon fuel use for years, perhaps decade.

Solar and wind are making a larger impact.

Tom said...

I believe fleet life in developed countries hovers between 11 and 16 years, so conversion could be a bit quicker than perhaps you think, Phil. Really will depend on carrots (subsidies and 'cash for clunkers') and sticks (punitive taxes on ICE).

Phil said...

It is always worthwhile trying to find actual numbers.

Based on total registration:
EU has 688k BEVs.
EU has about 48 million vehicles.

So about 1.4%, as of 2019

Source is http://ev-registrations.com/

Might be 2% now.

In any case, not yet a major factor. Maybe in 5 years or 10 years.