India and China have successfully managed to get the UN to focus on the intensity of emissions per unit of GDP and thus can make promises (not legally binding) about future emissions tied to GDP such that they will not be limited in their use of coal in any significant way.
The hype about the UN’s December climate meeting in Paris is gradually growing. Media, politically correct politicians and the global warming religion’s orthodoxy are winding up their rhetoric. Ostensibly the goal is to demonise carbon and to get nations to commit to reducing fossil fuel use such that the global temperature rise “will not exceed 2ºC”. This target of “allowable” temperature rise is not “2ºC caused by man” but just “2ºC”. Nobody actually knows what the rise by “natural causes” might be and what is caused by man. “Global temperature” itself is an artefact, a calculated quantity and calculated by those with a vested interest in showing that it is increasing. It seems that the calculation method is conveniently variable and is adjusted every year to show that the current year has demonstrated the highest ever temperature. Nevertheless the 5,000 participants and 190+ countries have effectively set themselves up to discuss commitments to stop climate change itself. The arrogance is astounding and worthy of King Cnut.
What effect man has actually had on climate is unknown. For almost 20 years now, man-made carbon dioxide emissions have been growing explosively but “global temperature” has paused. Those countries which have increased their own costs of electricity by reducing fossil fuel use (mainly in Europe) have effectively done it all quite uselessly and unnecessarily. Other countries (China and India in the main) have increased their use of fossil fuels such that global emissions of carbon dioxide have continued to grow. And yet there has been no change in “global temperature” except by arithmetical tricks. The last 3 decades of reducing fossil fuel use in Europe have been unnecessary. Three decades of subsidising renewable energy have still not made them commercial in their own right.
Climate policies are all policies where the objectives are not measurable. Policies are being proposed where the effect of the policies on climate itself cannot be measured. All that can be measured are the actions themselves which is both trivial and meaningless. For example countries can measure amounts of money spent but have no clue as to what the resultant effect on climate may be. Emissions reductions can be measured, but not the actual climate effects such reductions may have caused or not caused. For many delegates the purpose is not climate but the redistribution of wealth among nations where climate policy is the vehicle.
Ask a politician what his countries climate policies will achieve and the answer is that it will “contribute to the world’s efforts to stop climate change”. But by how much and how success can be measured are unknowns. It has become a matter of solidarity among nations not of policies with objectives. Not a single country (nor any politician nor any so-called climate scientist) has any inkling about what its climate policies will achieve for climate or even if it will achieve anything at all.
Some of the more savvy politicians and countries have figured out ways to seem to support political correctness while ensuring that their continued – and increasing – use of fossil fuels is not constrained in practice. For India and China the continued use of fossil fuels is critical and necessary for their growth. For the next 20 – 30 years, their carbon dioxide emissions are going to increase regardless of what the Paris meeting decides. India has proposed policies which seem – at first sight – to be drastic reductions in the “intensity of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP” but defined in terms of growth such that coal consumption will have trebled in the next 25 years from 2005. India has now said it will cut emissions intensity by up to 25% of 2005 levels by 2020. China has also said it will reduce the intensity of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP in 2020 by 40 to 45 percent compared with the level of 2005.
India’s GDP has grown from $0.8 trillion in 2005 to be about $2.1 trillion in 2014. China’s GDP has already grown from $2.3 trillion in 2005 to $10.3 trillion in 2014. These “promises” based on GDP are not even going to be legally binding and there is certainly no cap to the GDP which can be aimed for or achieved. The GDP targets for India and China inherently require a mix of fuels to be used for electricity generation; coal, gas, nuclear and hydro primarily. Solar and wind power may have a large installed capacity and may contribute something to the growth but are not necessary or critical. The Indian and Chinese plans for using more gas and nuclear in their mix automatically brings down the carbon intensity per GDP from the levels of 2005 when both countries were heavily dependent on coal. Their coal plans can therefore proceed unimpeded while still meeting their “promises”. Both countries are relying on GDP growth to effectively reduce their “intensities of carbon emission” without having to reduce the rate at which they increase planned fossil fuel use or carbon dioxide emissions. Both India and China have reached the stage of development where electricity consumption growth is now lower than GDP growth. Both are at low levels of energy utilisation efficiency such that significant demand side improvements can be made. With around 7% growth in India and even with China reducing to, say, 6% growth, the reductions of intensity of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP are impossible to prevent.
Any agreement in Paris will mean India trebling and China doubling its coal burn by 2030. And with “official” sanction to do so. So what “success” in Paris means is that global, man-made, carbon dioxide emissions are going to double (at least). And it also means that any carbon dioxide emission reductions promised by other countries are of no significance whatsoever. It is a very good thing that man-made, carbon dioxide emissions have no significant impact on global temperature.
And the Paris conference is both meaningless and irrelevant.