Some seem to believe that a EU emission decrease will have a huge effect on world emissions, as is shown in this curious tweet from a Belgian politician (my emphasis):
Without getting the EU climate neutral, you will not get the world below 2 degrees C. And if we do not achieve that, the costs and losses cannot be foreseen.
This is a bold statement and it doesn’t make much sense. Firstly, the EU emissions were in the order of 10-11% of world emissions in 2018 and secondly, developing countries like China and India have strongly rising emissions without engagements to lower them, so their emissions are very likely to further increase in the future, likely even after 2030. Africa will likely follow soon.
He rightfully got criticized for that in the reactions on the tweet. In this post, I want to go a step further and try to find out how EU emissions relate to global emissions and to what extent these are big enough to compensate for the increase from the developing regions.
This is the follow-up of on previous post in which I discussed a Guardian article of October 2006, claiming that we only had ten years to save the planet “from mankind”. This was only one article in a string of others that I found having the same structure: number of time left to save the world/planet.
Fast forward two years.
When researching previous post, I came across the article in the Guardian on James Hansen stating that “Obama had only four years to halt devastating climate change”. When I finished that post, I wondered how many other similar claims (in the form of “number of years/months to save the planet/world”) were there in Guardian articles.
As expected there were more than the one I accidentally bumped into. This post will be about the first article I found, there will be a follow-up post on the others.
That first article that I found is titled “Ten years to save the planet from mankind“, written by Gaby Hinsliff and published on 29 Oct 2006. Its subject is the Stern report that was published a day later (it is striking how the Guardian succeeds to know what is in a report before it is published). It was initially not really clear what the “from mankind” in the title is about.
One of the things that became abundantly clear in a previous post is how incredibly easy it is replace past failed predictions by a brand new one, even when incompatible with the failed prediction. There was the example of a Belgian activist who in 2008 claimed that we only had ten year left to avert tipping points by limiting the temperature increase to 2 °C, but in 2018 -when we horribly failed to reach that target- he made a new prediction that we now had another ten years to prevent tipping points by limiting the temperature increase to … 1.5 °C.
In that post, I also noticed the similarity between this prediction and the prediction by Andrew Simms and his onehundredmonths campaign. Both claimed that 2 °C had to be averted otherwise we were in for tipping points, pointed to the authority of the IPCC to justify their claim, both started their campaign roughly at the same time (2008), both had a hard deadline in the near future for this to happen (100 months for Simms, 10 years for Balthazar). The deadlines expired without reaching the goal in both cases and both adopted a new target: limiting to 1.5 °C temperature increase, basically forgetting about their previous claim. Simms learned his lesson and didn’t propose a new deadline anymore. Balthazar apparently wasn’t that smart and adopted another, rather close-by, target date (2030). I wonder what new claim he will make when his current prediction will not materialize (odds are that it will not materialize, because his claim is not substantiated by the report he claims it is based on).
“We have about ten years before we get into a irreversible situation”, said Nic Balthazar (see previous post). Just as in an earlier interview at the end of December 2018, he based his claim on the IPCC SR15 report that was “clearer than ever”. But then, I read the SR15 report before and I didn’t find anything that suggests that there would be tipping points at a 1.5 °C temperature increase.
As far as I know, the SR15 report was commissioned at the 2015 Paris conference and the question back then was: which are the effects of the threshold of 1.5 °C (proposed at the conference) compared to the 2 °C threshold that was valid until that conference?
That is what I also see in the SR15 report: how do the two thresholds compare. So how on earth does he come to the conclusion that the SR15 report shows that there will be a tipping point within ten years and it will be game over for our society in twenty years?