Quantifying CO2 Mitigation

Update (1st April 2012) Latest versions of files added below.

Update (13th January 2012) Latest versions of files added below.

Update (26th October 2011) New summary and spreadsheet added – see below

Ed Hoskins, since emailing me last November, has been doggedly pursuing questions of the benefits of climate change mitigation policy (his original postings are here and here). Such was his zeal that his initial document grew to an unwieldy size. Like Tony Brown (tonyb), with whom he has also been corresponding, he has not been afraid to contact anyone whose knowledge or opinion would benefit his analysis.  Recently it has been a privilege to follow an informal collaboration that started over on Judith Curry’s site in May with Tony posting questions in “The futility of carbon reduction?

This is where readers of this blog can help, […] I am asking this question of those able to make the calculations;

Question: Temperatures are expected to rise by 3 degree Centigrade because of actions we have already taken. If the world collectively closed down their carbon economies what temperature reduction could be achieved?

The post notched up over 600 comments, including debate over the figures Ed had used. Since then commenter Max Anacker (manacker) has added considerably offline to Ed’s arguments by revising and refining calculations, and his input was also invaluable in ensuring the figures used are a correct interpretation of those used by the IPCC.

The email exchanges between the four of us (although I can’t claim much input) have shaped Ed’s writing into five accessible short essays, each 3-4 pages, that introduce and discuss the issues:

1. A history of worldwide CO2 emissions usefully discusses the background history of CO2 emissions growth through figures associated with the actions of groups of nations;

2. A simulation of a probable future for man-made CO2 emissions by 2100 provides a very simple presentation of the way the emissions are likely to escalate up to 2100;

3. The temperature effect of greenhouse gases compares different statements about the man-made contribution to the current temperature rise;

4. Increasing CO2 concentration diminishes its greenouse effect presents a quantified effect of the logarithmic diminution of CO2 as a greenhouse gas as concentrations rise;

5. The futility of climate control when a few nations limit CO2 emissions comments on the idealistic but ultimately flawed scenario on which all government carbon reduction policies are based.

Update 26th October 2011.  Ed has emailed with a new summary document and a spreadsheet.

CO2 summary version (6 pages) (MS Word) and CO2 emsissions ready reckoner 11-11 (MS Excel)

Update 13th January 2012 – Links to Ed’s latest files available for download, including *NEW* powerpoint versions.

Calculator – co2-emsissions-ready-reckoner-1-12 (MS Excel)

Seven page summary document – CO2 short (MS Word) or CO2 short (PDF)

Presentation – CO2 short (MS Powerpoint) or CO2 short .pptx (PDF Version)

Update 1st April 2012 – Latest files available for download.

Calculator – CO2 emissions notes 3-12 (MS Excel)

Summary document – CO2 short ii (MS Word) or (PDF)

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15 Responses to Quantifying CO2 Mitigation

  1. Only Europe, Australia and New Zealand are making serious efforts to reduce their CO2 emissions. Good luck to them I say although it won’t make any difference and nobody will care.

    In the USA we are loading ourselves with all kinds of restrictions that make it uneconomic to produce a wide range of goods here but suddenly people are asking why our unemployment is rising to European levels.

    The simple answer is that we are trying to emulate the European economic model. My hope is that the economic pain here will be great enough to force us to rethink this strategy before we get very far with the more extreme policies such as replacing fossil fuels and nuclear power with “Renewables”.

  2. The only technology that has a credible potential for reducing CO2 emissions is nuclear power. Every day that nations continue to buy the idea that we can get by with unreliable “Renewables” delays the implementation of a rapid build up of NPPs (Nuclear Power Plants).

    A few years ago it would have sufficed to “Build a Nuke Each Day”. If we don’t get started soon it will have to be two per day compared to the present rate of one per month.

  3. tonyb says:

    Galloping Camel

    Shutting down our fossil fuel power plants without having anything to replace them with is the height of folly. I am not at all averse to the idea of renewables but at present they are highly expensive and inefficient and are no substitute to fossil fuel.

    I have no hang upos about using nuclear fuel as we need SOMETHING with which to power our economies


  4. Verity Jones says:

    It’ll be interesting to have serious quantities of shale gas thrown into the mix, and the greens will not be happy. Interesting choices for NIMBYs – which would you rather have – nuclear, fracking or wind turbines?

  5. tonyb says:


    The Blackpool shale gas is an extremely interesting development. Cheap plentiful energy just when we need it. Thats two good reasons why the Govt won’t allow it.


  6. tonyb,
    Don’t get me wrong; I love renewables to the extent that I plan to install a solar PV array on my roof the instant I can get the RoI (Return on Investment) right.

    I object to the idea that solar power can replace fossil or nuclear power and that governments should subsidize such projects when the private sector will not touch them with a barge pole. Here is a shameless plug for a post on this subject:

  7. Verity Jones says:

    From a link on No Hot Air (an expert and strong advocate of shale), the following video explains fracking very well.

    Here’s one of the anti-fracking videos:

    New process? or just ‘new in populated areas’? Is it inherently problematic? At least this asks “Is the problem fracking per se or just human error?”

    Stop all progress. Nothing more than breathing allowed.

  8. tonyb says:

    Galloping Camel

    As far as renwables go I think its camels for courses. Solar may well have a place in Spain but not the Uk due to sun/light levels. Waves may have a place in the Uk but not in Switzerland as they don’t have a coast. Hydro power may be womderful in Switzerland butr less possible in Swaziland.

    However unless you are a minor economy it is likely that renewables will do nothing more than expensively top up your base power supplies that will be runing on nuclear/oil/coal/gas.

    The base power needs to be cheap plentiful and secure. Secure in this sense meaning safe from enemies AND reliable,.

    The Uk energy market is in a huge mess. We are pricing our businesses out of the economy and consumers are spending so much on energy they have little left over for discretionary spending.

    Personally I would use some of the U’s vast reserves of coal to builld coal fired power stations. Failing that I am quite happy with nuclear although there is a 20 year lead in. Shale gas seems to me to be like manna from heaven-it fulfils all the requitrements of cheap plentiful and secure. The govt could be pragmatic and put a small levy on the price of the stuff which could go towards a serious renewables project, on the basis that in 20 years time they may also be able to fulfil the criteria I state.

    Is it safe? thats another qurestion.If it is safe will the Govt swallow hard and set aside their carbon fetish after reading Ed’s excellent articles-I doubt it.


    • The UK is an interesting case. The nation’s energy needs were sustained by north sea oil and gas, a bonanza that is dwindling rapidly. You recognize that renewables cannot fill the gap so the best option is nuclear power.

      For the moment Huhne dreams his impossible dreams and until the voters wake up you will import more and more electricity from France and Holland, much of which is generated by NPPs.

      Take a look at the live data:

      Note that today imported electricity outstrips the total UK production from wind power and this is the case most of the time. All those obnoxious windmills for so little useful result!

      Of course you are right about coal. Unlike France, Germany and the UK have plenty of that so if the nuclear funk continues you can build more coal fired power stations to keep the lights on. If that happens don’t worry about the “Global Warming” it may cause; it won’t make a measurable dent in the “Global Cooling” from natural causes.

  9. pouncer says:

    There is a 20 year lead on nuclear largely because we are 40 years behind schedule. After the Arab OPEC oil embargo following the Yom Kippur War in 1973, it was blindingly obvious that nukes were the way to go. And so somebody invented the “China Syndrome” scenario.

    Were I the sort of Truther that believed the moon landings a hoax and the WTC collapse due to CIA dynamite I would blame Jimmy Carter’s ERDA for Three Mile Island. As it, simply human idiocy.

    But, had the progress of nuclear fueled power plants in their first 4 decades paralleled the steam engine, or IC engine, or air craft, MRI machines, computing, laser eye surgery or just about any other technology development curve you care to plot — we would have mass produced safer vastly easier-to-operate and much cheaper nuke power plants available, new and used, all over the country.

    That we don’t is considered by many to be a feature, not a bug, of recent policy.

  10. tonyb and pouncer,

    Don’t buy that 20 year lead in nonsense for nuclear power. The French “Messmer Plan” was announced in 1974 yet it only took 25 years for nuclear power to account for over 75% of generating capacity in that country.

    Today we have much better designs for nuclear power plants that are easier to build than the “Generation I” plants that make up most of the French fleet of NPPs.

  11. tonyb says:

    Galloping Camel

    The 20 year lead in time is based on putting forward a specification, agreeing costs and build. It also accounts for the most important element of all-a long winded planning debate which can take years.


  12. Verity Jones says:

    The 20 years lead time is realistic for a government that does not have the political will to do what must be done and force it through in the face of huge public and politcal (green) oppostition.

    Such delays have been plaguing waste-to-energy for years. Even without public opposition, a local company has had a tortuous five years in developing a 2MW plant where there is no contentious technology – the delays have been governmental, planning, licencing, financing etc. In Ireland, the Poolbeg Incinerator has a history going back more than 10 years: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/weekend/2011/0129/1224288510241.html due to both public and political opposition (whether it is the best option to to deal with waste; technology fear)

    Nuclear is such an emotive subject for many people that that path will be challenging; there will be a lot of people that will not accept the choice. On the other hand if (or when) lights lights do start to dim with power cuts in cold winters, it may become easier.

    • gallopingcamel says:

      You are probably right. Nothing gets your attention better than a brownout or black out. Remember the miner’s strike in 1972?

      Oooops! You are much too young.

  13. Verity Jones says:

    Well I’m flattered you think that, but of course I remember the miner’s strike. I was at school, quite young, but I remember it.

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