Good news about CO2 emissions. Progress to a better world.

Summary: 2017 has been a good year for news about climate change. Here is more good news, courtesy of the Dutch government. This should be headline news, but it ruins the narrative! Pass it on, for there is too little good news these days.

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
Churchill’s speech on 10 November 1942, after the British victory at El Alamein.

Good News

Trends in global CO2 and total greenhouse gas emissions.

Since 2011 the global economy has grown while growth of CO2 emissions slowed.

By J.G.J. Olivier et al. of the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.
Excerpt from the Summary, 28 September 2017. Red emphasis added.

“In 2016, total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continued to increase slowly by about 0.5% (±1%) ….Taking into account that 2016 was a leap year, and therefore 0.3% longer, and together with the 0.2% increase in 2015, the 2016 emission increase was the slowest since the early 1990s, except for global recession years. This is mainly the result of lower coal consumption from fuel switches to natural gas and increased renewable power generation; in particular, in wind and solar power.

“Most of the emissions (about 72%) consist of CO2, but methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and fluorinated gases (F-gases) also make up substantial shares (19%, 6% and 3%, respectively). These percentages do not include net emissions from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF), which are usually accounted for separately, because they show large interannual variations and are very uncertain. …

Figure 1 Click to enlarge.
Global greenhouse gas emissions

“The trend in global CO2 emissions excluding those from LULUCF has remained more or less flat, over the last two years (±0.5%), see Figure 1. Non-CO2 greenhouse gases retained an annual growth rate of about 1%. In contrast, CO2 emissions from LULUCF show a highly varying pattern that reflects the periodically occurring strong El Niňo years, such as in 1997–1998 and 2015–2016 (Figure 1). …

“Over the past two years, total global greenhouse gas emissions (excluding those from LULUCF, thus also from forest and peat fires) have shown a slowdown in growth, …with calculated increases of 1.0%, 0.2% and 0.5%, in 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively (see Figure 1). Note that 2016 was a leap year and, therefore, about 0.3% longer than a normal year. Since the early 1990s, such slow annual emission increases have only occurred during the economic crisis in 2008–2009, and the major global financial crisis in 1998 that resulted from the Asian financial crisis.

“Non-CO2 GHG emissions originate from many different sources and are much more uncertain than CO2 emissions (their uncertainty on a global level is of the order of 30% or more, whereas for CO2 this is about ±10% or less). Over the past three years, non-CO2 GHG emissions have continued to grow somewhat faster than CO2 emissions, namely by 1.5% (2014), 1.2% (2015) and 1.0% (2016), whereas CO2 over the same period increased by a respective 0.8%, -0.2% and 0.3%. Note that, due to limited statistical data for 2015 and 2016 for these sources, the annual trends in the emission of CH4, N2O and F-gases are much more uncertain than those in CO2. …

The declining growth in annual CO2 emissions since 2011 has continued over the past years, with 0.6% in 2012, 1.8% in 2013, and 0.8% in 2014, followed by -0.2% in 2015 and 0.3% in 2016 (±0.5%). …The energy intensity of the economy, defined as total primary energy use (TPES1) per unit of GDP, shows similar negative annual growth levels (i.e. annual energy efficiency improvement of the economy) compared to the pre-crisis period. From this can be deduced that …the economy as a whole has maintained its annually decreasing energy intensity. ”

The Agency will release the full report by the end of October. See their previous “Trends in Global CO2” reports.



“The world may still be doomed, but it is not quite as doomed as the climatologists have repeatedly told us.”
— From “Global warming predictions may have been too gloomy” by Ben Webster (environment editor) in The Times.

RCPs - legend

The graph below shows the emissions of CO2 by industry and from burning fossil fuels. The lines represent the four scenarios — Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) — used in the IPCC’s AR5 report. The graph is from the RCP Database. RCP 3 (aka RCP 2.6) is the most optimistic, with negative emissions after 2020. The steep brown line is RCP 8.5, which describes a nightmarish future of rapid population growth and technological stagnation — with coal the fuel of the late 21 st century (as it was in the late 19thC). Click to enlarge.

RCPs - CO2 emissions from fossil fuels

Years of propaganda have convinced many people that the world is doomed, that RCP8.5 (with its unlikely assumptions) is the “business as usual scenario”, that we are certain to follow it unless massive public policy changes are made — even making drastic revisions to our economic system (as urged by Naomi Klein and Pope Francis). Activists have ignored science to convince the public that we’re doomed by climate change.

Events are already falsifying the narrative of climate activists, echoed by their journalist-enablers: new energy sources, improvement in energy efficiency, and substitution of natural gas for coal. These are trends already happening, yet still in their early stages. We might follow the red (RCP 6.0) and blue (RCP 4.5) lines until 2040. We can only guess what energy technology will be rolling out by then. We might be seeing steep declines in emissions, perhaps leading to negative emissions in the following decades (i.e., falling CO2 levels).

This does not mean that the world is saved. It does not mean that no public policy changes are needed to get us through the difficult decades ahead — as economic growth and population growth (perhaps to 10 billion people) puts immense stress on Earth’s ecology.

It does mean that the doomsters’ certainty is exaggerated, as is their belief we can only save the world by changing America society to suit their ideology. It means that we are on the right path, and that our normal economic and political processes are working.

Why we don’t hear more good news?

Two weeks ago I wrote about a milestone for climate science:That to was ignored by climate activists and journalists. There are two reasons for this. First, they have committed to a “we’re doomed” narrative — trying to gain support by a relentless focus on the bad news about climate change plus forecasts of disasters. Good news to them is like Holy Water to vampires. Too bad that focusing on worst case climate scenarios should not work and does not work.

Second, journalists know we prefer bad stories. “If it bleeds, it leads.” This creates the “crisis crisis“, described in one of the best articles even in Playboy. People prefer exciting stories cheering our side’s angelic warriors — and hissing at our foes, satan’s minions. Good news does not get big traffic. We love scary stories. The reason why reveals a secret about America.

No Fear

For More Information

For more about this story, see “Total greenhouse gas emissions trends and projections” by the European Environment Agency. Also see “Decoupling of global emissions and economic growth confirmed” by the International Energy Agency.

Other recent good news about climate:  a successful 10-year forecast of global temperature. Also see “Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5 °C“ by Richard J. Millar et al. in press at Nature Geoscience — reported here in the WaPo (the NYT ignored it). Progress of a different kind is the new policy requiring data publication for papers by the American Geophysical Union.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information about this vital issue see the posts about the RCPs, about the keys to understanding climate change and these posts about the politics of climate change…

  1. Good news! Coal bankruptcies point to a better future for our climate.
  2. Good news from America about climate change, leading the way to success.
  3. Good news for the New Year! Salon explains that the global climate emergency is over.
  4. Stratfor gives us good news: Red China Goes Green.
  5. Stratfor gives us good news, showing when renewables will replace fossil fuels.
  6. The IPCC gives us good news about climate change, but we don’t listen.
The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change
Available at Amazon.

To learn more about the state of climate change…

… see The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change by Roger Pielke Jr. (Prof of Environmental Studies at U of CO-Boulder). From the publisher…

“In recent years the media, politicians, and activists have popularized the notion that climate change has made disasters worse. But what does the science actually say? Roger Pielke, Jr. takes a close look at the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the underlying scientific research, and the data to give you the latest science on disasters and climate change. What he finds may surprise you and raise questions about the role of science in political debates.”

9 thoughts on “Good news about CO2 emissions. Progress to a better world.”

  1. More good news: Solar is a microscopic contributor to grid energy. But it is growing fast.

    Time to shine: Solar power is fastest-growing source of new energy” in The Guardian Oct 4. “Renewables accounted for two-thirds of new power added to world’s grids last year, says International Energy Agency.”

    See the IEA report: Renewables 2017.

    “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”
    — Attributed to Roy Charles Amara as paraphrased by Robert X. Cringely.

  2. Pingback: Good news about CO2 emissions – Progress to a better world | Watts Up With That?

  3. Why should anyone think that CO2 emissions are any problem for the Earth? The hypothesis that they cause dangerous warming has been shown to be untrue, and more CO2 is good for plants…

    1. yahtahei,

      True. But that’s a small factor with respect to the overall effects of rising temperatures. It’s big only in the minds of science deniers (yes, there are lots of them out there — a development over the past 5 years which I thought unlikely).

    2. yahtahei,

      That list is quite bogus. The Working Group I report of the IPCC’s AR5 is 1,552 pages long. Every climate scientist disagrees with some of it. To say all those listed “disagree” with it is nuts.

      I know the work of some of those scientists quite well. Dr. Curry disagrees most seriously with the confidence levels of some of AR5’s findings. That seems plausible even to a layperson like me. People and groups are often over-confident. She also has a theory — “stadium waves” — which has different mechanisms than used in the standard models. That affects only one of the 14 chapters of AR5. It does not justify saying she is “opposing the mainstream scientific assessment of global warming.”

      Including Professor Pielke Jr. on the list is even odder. The “source” given is a Wiki run by the Center for Media & Democracy, which describes how he disagrees with how AR4 (2007) misused one of his graphs. That does not mean that he is “opposing the mainstream scientific assessment of global warming.”

      The source you are using is garbage.

  4. Pingback: A new book with unexpected good news about polar bears - Fabius Maximus website

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