Climate Changecan be mastered

Consider a problem for which, by and large, only 10 entities are responsible, most of them very rich and knowledgeable. The majority of them are democracies. Consider further that in 2 of those entities, i.e. India and China, old fashioned technology is used, which could be replaced in let's say 10 years. So why is this problem not solved very soon?

On this website I would like to randomly present interesting information about the climate question, at the occasion of the 21th UN Climate Change Conferene in Paris, France, 30 Nov.- 11 Dec. 2015.

Considered from this point of view, there is no complexity: There is chance for diplomancy, ready to be grabbed. Payments from the industrialized countries to the developing world and the oil-rich Middle East are inevitable, but these transfers must be focus on a much smaller list of poor countries with large population numbers: India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenia, Nigeria, and hubs like Morocco and South Africa. In addition, to be sure, China remains important. Europa and America, have to speed up building readily available solutions, for example, huge reservoirs for hydroelectricity, by which Norway could store Germany's electricity produced during the day with renewables like solar and wind energy.

Complexity comes into play, when we consider the incentive structure of certain instruments, like emission-trading, or questions like how to regulate and compensate industries with very high adaption costs. It is also not yet clear what kinds of technologies we will use in 2050 and later. Last but not least, it is not easy to imagine the world embracing two different paths of development, sustainable development and transformation in the industrialized world and a process of catching up by using old technologies in the developing world. It is plain to see that those countries also need new technologies and must also be massively supported in their development.

In this respect it is important to face up to the fact that the world will - and should - not change in the coming 1000 years at least. Societies need, preferably, democratic governments, institutions, hospitals, fire-brigades, police departments, water and electricity, trains, postal service, cars, ship and air traffic and even the military all the way into the future. Except for the latter, all these services are closely related to the economic and social human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs. Moreover, to ensure stability, a middle-class must be established in all highly populated countries of the world.

This implies that oil (reserves for circa 100 years) and coal (reserves for circa 1000 years) have to be used as thriftily, fairly and equitably as possible, for important tasks which cannot be performed by renewable energy, in order to ensure the stability of human civilization. Climate change is not something which needs a cultural response, like a new hippie culture, but it probably needs the internet for all kinds of ways to coordinate and compare a reduction of consumption.

Here are some facts and information about climate change I want you to consider:

Increase of emission on a yearly basis of 3 % between 2000 and 2010 of Top 10 emitters

Increase of Emissions Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2011, based on the consumption of oil, gas and coal (excluding land use change, forestry etc.). See Excel Top 40 Emissions below.

Top 10

Top10 Source: Numbers for 2010. BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2011, based on the consumption of oil, gas and coal (excluding land use change, forestry etc.). See Excel Top 40 Emissions below.

Top 10: 67,74 %

Top 10 (2010) countries account for 67,74 % of the world emissions: a few countries, among those Germany, are resonsible for climate change.

Taking the EU as a whole, is she on the third place, with 4143 Mill. t CO2-equivalents. USA and EU with 10288 Mill. t CO2-eq., lie before China with = 8333 Mill. T CO2-eq.

--- this helps to understand, why countries like China and India do want a lot from the U.S. and the EU.

--- on the other hand, if China and India grow without change in their technology, they will emit more CO2-eq. as the industrialized countries in the future. This helps to understand why the industrialized countries want a legally binding agreement.

See for download: Excel Top 40 Emissions

Certain countries emitted more during the course of history

Cumulative Emissions

Climate justice is the phrase developing countries use when they want to point out the fact that some countries emitted more then others. Still, this concept cannot be applied in a straightforward manner - because the knowledge about the dangers of climate change became only readily available much later. The 'principle of common but differentiated responsiblities' is nevertheless rightfully enshrined in the Framework Conventions on Climate Change adopted at the occasion of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro 1992 (Klimarahmenkonvention 1992 auf dem Erdgipfel in Rio verabschiedet). Why? Because those countries are technologically very advanced and - while not rich in a limitless sense - rich and knowledgeable enough, to be able to reduce their emissions fastly.

Top 10 in terms of GDP, with population, CO2-eq. emissions in per capita/year, CO2-efficiency


My mini scenario for the future

I build an Excel-sheet to estimate how much reduction of CO2-eq. emissions are necessary in the countries of the world to reach the goal of 750 billion t CO2-eq. emission, a target which the Germany think tank WGBU suggested. It is also possible, if the main culprits of climate change start to reduce their emissions thoroughly, that a certain group of countries, can increase their emissions. See figure below for the WBGU suggestion: to emit until 2050 750 gigatonnes or 750.000 million t CO2-eq., in order to halt the world's temperature growth at 2 degrees celsius: example of such a reduction path (it can, of course, be handled differently, as long as - all in all - 750 gigatonnes fit into it until 2015). Remember: 2010 the world emits roughly 33.000 million t CO2-eq. WBGU path of reduction In my reduction path four years 33158 millions t CO2-eq. will be emitted (the 2010 number), form 2015 emission are reduced to 23566, from 2033 to 8125. See: Excel Downloads at the bottom of the box. Here is a first approxmiation involving the countries with the largest GDP.

Note: all these countries grow at a considerable pace (numbers choosen randomly 'realistically' choosen by myself, not just growth, but also the row with the 2050-reduced per capita CO2-emissions): Mini scenario It is assumed above that USA reduces emissions from 20 to 10 t per capita, Russia reduces, China, Indien, Brasil have 10 t per capita, somewhat more then today (which is realistic, because of GDP growth), then the Top 10 account for 40.000 million t of CO2-eq. which is more then all the countries of the world today. In 2050 there will be 9 billion people, so there will be more emissions, the Top 10 account for 4 billion inhabitants in 2050.

What is the outcome? If countries grow like this an achieve these - sometimes - considerable reductions, world wide emission could remain (roughly) on today's level - but reduction demands more.

It nevertheless shows that reductions are possible and will lead to clear results!!!!

The next figure shows something different. It's an excerpt from an Excel-sheet which is provided for download here, where you could test reductions paths by yourself, by manually typing in different reduction percentages. You an test if the world will still remain in the WGBU scenario of 750 gigatonnes CO2-eq. emissions (all years added together until 2050). See for yourself how it may work out: Mini scenario
Testing different reduction scenarios it is especially interesting to see what impact reduction percentage change in the 'big' countries make. It is also interesting to see that very 'active' large countries can provide some space for 'slow' countries. See for download: Excel Reduction Scenarios

Climate change, growth and poverty reduction, other social questions

Some very basic questions, which lure in the background, have to be addressed. How much must countries grow to reduce poverty and to avoid social instablity. Interestingly, industrialized countries could grow with 1 per cent and still maintain today's per capita income levels until 2015. Some growth is necessary, to keep the financial system stable.

It is very positive that industrialized countries benefit from growth in developing countries, so there is an additional stabilizer in the system (a relatively open trading system is important in this respect).

Only very few countries with very high population numbers need high growth in order to reduce extreme poverty (under 1,25 US$ pro Tag): Egypt 6 %, India 6 %, Indonesia 4 %, Pakistan 8 %, Philippines 6 %, Vietnam 6 %, the countries in Afrika 8 %. In China 3 % growth, would, for example, be enough, to increase yearly per capita income to US$ 14.000, a daily income of US$ 40. (See my calculations in the Excel-sheet downloadable below - here you can change the growth percentages and watch the impact on income levels - I must add current per capita income levels related to current populations figures once in a while).

Be that as it may, industrialized countries could be kept stable with very low growth rates and they would still, in the level of businesses, benefit a lot from growth (and a transition to greener growth) in all the other countries.

Thus only a - limited (!!!) - number of countries need growth to lift people out of poverty, and this surely means, in many respects, growth in a conventional manner: building houses and highways, and letting run industries which emit CO2. Nevertheless, a limited list of countries can be handled and massively supported. Importantly, lobby groups / industries from industrialized countries must accept that in these countries also sophisticted products must be produced, like conventional trucks and electric cars - because there is no reliable way to enforce the transfer of technology - they have to invest a there - to keep the the world stable. There has to be some mechanism, perhaps directly linked to the climate treaty, to provide incentives for them to do these very important investments.

Unfortunately, it is much harder to help small countries with population figures from 1 to, let's say, 10 million. Their markets are too small to support the growth of industries with economies of scale, which need a large market. In some areas they could found customs unions and try to attract investments by promising a larger market in that way. Sadly, in some areas of the world, this impossible, because the countries are not politically stable enough. It is not very likely that an East African growth and development zone with Egypt, Sudan, South, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenia, Rwanda and Burundi will be founded, with car- and car part factories in every countries, completing each others capabilities.

Lastly the oil-rich countries need a mechanism, too, to help them if their oil-incomes decrease. But this seems to be not very urgent, since oil will be in demand for a long time to come. Venezuela, Algeria are relatively stable. Egypt urgently needs help to grow more fastly, anyway, and Yemen needs help, too.

Indeed, climate change and social questions cannot be separated. This implies that climate change related questions and the newly adopted sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the Post-2015 Development Agenda are running on the same track. It seems very useful to make both the achievement of social goals and climate goals obligatory. But the focus must be different, the large and highly populated countries, which emit a lot, have to be the focus, while smaller countries have to benefit from a different kind of help.

See for download: Excel Growth Poverty Reduction until 2050 Scenario

Link to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) webpage and the Post-2015 Development Agenda, adoption planned in New York, September 2015: SDGs Link