How Do You Measure Hot Air?

One of the issues with the Paris Agreement is its lack of provisions for robust tracking and measurement of greenhouse gas emissions, and the lack of any meaningful audit procedure to confirm the claims put forward by participating states regarding their emissions levels. Even more fundamental, however, may be the difficulty in attributing to nations any particular stock of emissions. In this article I will explore both of these concerns, starting with the attribution problem.

Offshoring Emissions

In this regard there is a strong argument that the developed world, while claiming to reduce its own GHG emissions, is simply outsourcing them to China. Sometimes climate alarmists, in their desire to expose what they perceive to be heresies or failures to do enough, can be good friends to sceptic arguments. There is an interesting piece at the Carbon Brief website, published on 9th October 2014, under the heading “How much of China’s carbon dioxide emissions is the rest of the world responsible for?” Since then, arguably, the problem has become much more acute:

China is the world’s manufacturing hub. One reason for the increase in emissions is that China is making more and more of the stuff the rest of the world wants to buy. Emissions in places like the EU are falling – partly because it is manufacturing less, and importing more. So who should be responsible for the emissions associated with an ipod made in China and used in the UK?

The simplest way of measuring a country’s emissions is to look at how much pollution is released within its borders, called territorial emissions. It’s also possible to look at only the emissions associated with products that actually stay in China. These are termed consumption emissions, and this accounting lowers the country’s carbon footprint a bit. China emitted about 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide making products it exported elsewhere in 2012, about 16 per cent of its total. Arguably, those might be emissions the rest of the world is responsible for.

Food for thought – this issue isn’t dealt with by the Paris Accords, of course.

Greta points out the problem

More recently, on 26th April 2019, Rachel Schraer of the BBC’s Reality Check team published an article on the BBC website headed “Climate change: Is Greta Thunberg right about UK carbon emissions?”. The article highlights the UK government’s claim that UK greenhouse gas emissions had fallen by 42% since 1990, but that Greta Thunberg told UK MPs that the real figure was more like 10%. The article said she was right to point out that the UK government’s figures exclude emissions from international aviation, shipping and imports. Accordingly, Greta accused the UK government of “very creative carbon accounting“.

By contrast, the UK government statistics refer to the UK’s “territorial emissions” – that is a measure of what happens within the country’s borders, including things such as heating and powering homes, transport, domestic industry and agriculture.

The UK is not unique in producing its figures like this, though. It is sticking to internationally agreed standards. Each year, countries that are signed up to the Kyoto Protocol submit their overall emissions figures to the UN. That reporting is all done on a territorial basis – so they all exclude international aviation, shipping and imports. In fairness, Greta also criticised other countries for using the same methods.

The article went on to point out that DEFRA produces unofficial figures based on “consumption emissions” and which relate to everything the UK uses, including imports.   These figures suggest that Greta’s 10% reduction would be correct, for the period 1997 – 2016. In 2016, UK consumption emissions exceeded territorial emissions by more than 50%. Close to a further 10% is represented by international aviation and international shipping. What do we add for the emissions associated with building the ships and making the aeroplanes that are needed for international trade? Where do we stop?

The article does say that this whole area is fraught with difficulties, for example because tracking global supply chains is complex and may lead to double-counting. In one brief sentence it hit on an additional issue that has long perplexed me:

It also means countries are measuring things they do not always control – for example, if the UK imports products from China and then China starts making things in a more carbon-intensive way, the UK’s consumption emissions will go up despite consuming the same amount.”

Stop and think about that for a moment. By making UK energy expensive, by exporting jobs and manufacturing to countries like China, countries with lower environmental standards than the UK, countries which are more reliant on fossil fuels for energy production than is the UK, we might well be producing a net increase in CO2 emissions, rather than a reduction. More fool us, and more fool the people who negotiated climate agreements from Kyoto to Paris.

Who takes the rap for fossil fuel use and exports?

A related issue is the question of against which country is the use of fossil fuels to be “debited” – the producer/exporter or the end-user. The answer is the end-user, and that may be fair enough, though it does lead to strange anomalies, such as the bizarre sight of Scottish Nationalists having a net-zero CO2 agenda, while proposing to fund an independent Scottish economy on the receipts from North Sea oil and gas exports.

Online statistics I have seen suggest that Australia is far and away the world’s biggest coal exporter (responsible for around 37.5% of all coal exports), followed by Indonesia (18.2%) and Russia (13.5%) then the USA (8.3%). Four countries are therefore responsible for two thirds of the world’s coal exports, but none of that registers in their accounting for greenhouse gas emissions. As an aside, Mozambique is still a minnow, with coal exports representing 0.9% of the global total, but they’re in tenth place, and between 2015 and 2019 their coal exports increased by a staggering 36,789%.

The same issues relate to accounting for oil. The Investopedia website tells me that as of 2018 (admittedly pre-Covid) oil is the leading exported product in the world accounting for 5.9% of all global exports. Not surprisingly Saudi Arabia leads the list (responsible for 16.1% of oil export) followed by Russia (11.4%), then Iraq, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iran, USA, Nigeria and Kazakhstan. As with gas, the accounting for this massive wealth-producer is not debited to their accounts by the global greenhouse gas accounting regime. Consequently, their NDCs make for interesting reading, but that’s one for another day.

None of the above is in the least bit helpful when it comes to validating and verifying NDCs. Unfortunately, however, the bad news doesn’t end there. There are other problems relating to dodgy reporting and lack of transparency, and these have a venerable heritage dating back to the Kyoto Protocol.

Dodgy’ greenhouse gas data threatens Paris accord

That was the heading to an article published on the BBC website on 8th August 2017.

It said:

Potent, climate-warming gases are being emitted into the atmosphere but are not being recorded in official inventories, a BBC investigation has found. Air monitors in Switzerland have detected large quantities of one gas coming from a location in Italy. However, the Italian submission to the UN records just a tiny amount of the substance being permitted. Levels of some emissions from India and China are so uncertain that experts say their records are plus or minus 100%. These flaws posed a bigger threat to the Paris climate agreement than US President Donald Trump’s intention to withdraw, researchers told BBC Radio 4’s Counting Carbon programme.

The article went on to point out that among the key provisions of the Paris climate deal, is the requirement that every country, rich or poor, has to submit an inventory of its greenhouse-gas emissions every two years. However, the problem here is one of self-accounting and a lack of audit procedures to confirm their claims.  

The example was given of Scientist Dr Stefan Reimann, who has been recording high levels of greenhouse gases over the Swiss Alps. Between 2008 and 2010, he and his colleagues recorded samples of the chemical HFC-23, produced in the refrigeration and air conditioning industries, which is 14,800 times more warming to the atmosphere than CO2, and which was coming from a location in northern Italy.

According to Dr Stefan Reimann, from the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology:

Our estimate for this location in Italy is about 60-80 tonnes of this substance being emitted every year. Then we can compare this with the Italian emission inventory, and that is quite interesting because the official inventory says below 10 tonnes or in the region of two to three tonnes. They actually say it is happening, but they don’t think it is happening as much as we see. Just to put it into perspective, this greenhouse gas is thousands of times stronger than CO2. So, that would be like an Italian town of 80,000 inhabitants not emitting any CO2.”

The Italian environment agency told the BBC its inventory was correct and complied with UN regulations and it did not accept the Swiss figures. Who to believe?

China again

The article explains that another rare warming gas, carbon tetrachloride, once popular as a refrigerant and a solvent but very damaging to the ozone layer, has been banned in Europe since 2002. But Dr Reimann told Counting Carbon:

We still see 10,000-20,000 tonnes coming out of China every year. That is something that shouldn’t be there. There is actually no Chinese inventory for these gases, as they are banned and industry shouldn’t be releasing them anymore.”

China’s approach to reporting its overall output of warming gases to the UN is also subject to constant and significant revisions. Its last submission, at the time of the article in 2017, ran to about 30 pages – the UK’s, by contrast, ran to several hundred.

Back in 2007, China simply refused to accept, in official documents, that it had become the largest emitter of CO2. According to Matt McGrath’s piece, a report in 2015 suggested one error in China’s statistics amounted to 10% of global emissions in 2013. The BBC investigation also discovered vast uncertainties in carbon emissions inventories, particularly in developing countries.

Agricultural emissions

Next the BBC article concentrated on methane, the second most abundant greenhouse gas after CO2, and which is produced by microbe activity in marshlands, in rice cultivation, from landfill, from agriculture and in the production of fossil fuels. Global levels have been rising in recent years, and scientists are unsure why.

For a country such as India, home to 15% of the world’s livestock, methane is a very important gas in their inventory – but the amount produced is subject to a high degree of uncertainty.

There are huge uncertainties over methane emissions from India and other countries. According to Dr Anita Ganesan, from the University of Bristol, who has overseen air monitoring research in the country:

What they note is that methane emissions are about 50% uncertain for categories like ruminants, so what this means is that the emissions they submit could be plus or minus 50% of what’s been submitted. For nitrous oxide, that’s 100%.”

There are similar uncertainties with methane emissions in Russia, of between 30-40%, according to scientists who work there. Says Prof Euan Nisbet, from Royal Holloway, University of London:

What we’re worried about is what the planet experiences, never mind what the statistics are. In the air, we see methane going up. The warming impact from that methane is enough to derail Paris.

The rules covering how countries report their emissions are currently being negotiated. But Prof Glen Peters, from the Centre for International Climate Research, in Oslo, said:

The core part of Paris [is] the global stock-takes which are going to happen every five years, and after the stock-takes countries are meant to raise their ambition, but if you can’t track progress sufficiently, which is the whole point of these stock-takes, you basically can’t do anything. So, without good data as a basis, Paris essentially collapses. It just becomes a talkfest without much progress.

It’s difficult to argue with that concluding sentence!

25 Comments

  1. Territorial emissions ought to be easy-ish to calculate simply by totalling the coal, oil and gas used. Trying to back-calculate it from outcomes is subject to such vast uncertainties as to be impossible. (e.g. you could try to calculate the emissions embodied in a new phone, and stick a label on it, and maybe a tax, accordingly – but that would be hard to get close.) So the emissions from energy use at least ought to be doable.

    The next point is that it might be unfair to charge China for a portion of those emissions, when it is just making our stuff. And as mentioned above, we can’t calculate how much carbon dioxide was emitted making each bit of that stuff. You might think that the alarmists would be demanding local manufacturing, but if there is such a campaign, I’ve not seen it. Of course then prices would rise because we in the West can’t compete on wages, conditions, or energy costs.

    Regarding tetrachloromethane (it seems to have had a name change? Curious) and other highly-effective GHGs emitted via industrial processes: there are ways to button this up, if the demand was there to do it. In the 90s I did a bit of work in a chemical plant. The claim of the waste manager was that every atom that arrived on site was accounted for. Obviously he was exaggerating a tad, but the point stands that stopping leakage is feasible.

    The last thing, land use, farming: re-wetting peatlands is a big thing at the moment simply because of the quantity of carbon they are potentially able to store (the oldest peat in a 6 m deep block might be 10,000 years old). But when you have waterlogging you have anaerobic conditions and, although decay rates plummet overall, you get methane emissions. Swings and roundabouts you might say.

    Now, will WP let this through…..?

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  2. Is the amount of ice on the planet decreasing which would indicate that the planet is warming ?

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  3. @ John, yes it is, but not at an alarming rate. If you see a news item about melting ice caps it usually deals in cubic kilometres of ice (one cubic km is close to 1 Gt of ice). This is done to frighten folk, because a cubic km sounds like a hell of a lot. But if a report states that Greenland is losing 230 cubic kilometres of ice per year, it should also put it into context by mentioning that the ice sheet as a whole is 2,850,000 cubic km. So, if the rate continues, the Greenland Ice Sheet will be gone in the year 14000. Unless there is a new glaciation by then. Except note also that we will run out of fossil fuels in due course, probably this century absent emissions cuts, and that then the excess carbon dioxide will leave the atmosphere asymptotically, so that whatever warming is due to carbon dioxide it will be erased long before the Greenland Ice Sheet has a chance to squeeze into someone’s G&T.

    The melting is contributing c. 1 mm of sea level rise per year, and there is another c. 1 mm due to the thermal expansion of the oceans. The combined figure is slightly lower than the rate of sea level rise measured by the satellites.

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  4. JIT, thanks for your reply to John’s question. You beat me to it, and answered better than I would have done.

    I would simply add that this article isn’t so much about measuring net GHG emissions and their effect on the climate – rather it’s about the lack of transparency in the whole climate conference/agreement set-up. It’s about how China, for instance, can say pretty much what they like about their emissions, and get away with it. It’s about how the western developed world can export emissions to China while claiming to be reducing emissions. It’s about how emissions go uncounted and unattributed. Basically, it’s about another aspect of the failures represented by the Paris Agreement.

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  5. If some experts are casting doubt on the accuracy of estimates of greenhouse gas emissions, those who composed the individual Nationally Determined Contributions have no such qualms. I’ve been ploughing through the 190+ NDCs here:
    https://www4.unfccc.int/sites/NDCStaging/Pages/All.aspx
    and though it’s not as good a read as the Magic Mountain it’s better than Finnegan’s Wake. You learn a lot of geography on the way and realise just how ignorant you are if you rely on the serious mainstream media.

    I’ve done Afghanistan to Benin and will report later on details. What stands out is the precision with which countries which lack so many of our advantages are able to detail exactly how many gigatonnes of CO2 etc they emit, and how many billions of dollars they need to reduce their emissions by 7 or 8 % by 2030. Which reductions are not reductions at all, but reductions from business as usual, or what they would have emitted if Paris hadn’t offered them billions of dollars not to.

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  6. Geoff,

    By all means carry on ploughing through them, but you don’t have to, as I’ve already done it have notes on them all. It’s a rich lode, and in my mind forms the basis of lots of possible future articles.

    Please don’t steal my thunder!

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  7. MARK HODGSON

    But there’s so much thunder there! A veritable thunderbox full, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing. But of course you have first choice.

    Actually, I doubt whether our observations would overlap too much. Wading through the morass of UNEF-speak got me thinking of quite other things. Who, in Afghanistan, is totting up the gigatonnes? Where is the journalist who could do justice to this obscene surrealist state of affairs? Or take the more benign case of Benin. An obscure African state where a Marxist government was voted out and then voted back in again, and somehow the CIA forgot to start a civil war. They’re planning several hydro-electric projects, which don’t rust like windmills, and don’t involve destroying acres of jungle like solar panels. They destroy river ecosystems of course, but don’t emit CO2, once the concrete’s dried.

    Who’s thinking about all this? No-one. It’s none of my business. It should be the business of Thunberg and the trillion dollar eco-hysteria business she heads. She and her millions of followers claim to care for Humanity but they couldn’t give a flying fluon for the inhabitants of Afghanistan or Benin. Their heads are in the air, counting molecules, while small countries with big problems are concreting over their rivers in the hope of a cheque and a pat on the back from Alock Sharma.

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  8. Methane from natural processes (termites, ruminants, anaerobic bacteria in swamps, and humans overdoing the carbohydrates) is just part of the carbon cycle isn’t it? The carbon portion came out of the air via photosynthesis during the growing season, some is emitted as CH4, is broken down to CO2 over 8 years or so, and round it goes again.
    I’ve read that the “twenty times worse than CO2” statement comes directly from assuming a 100 year residence time or something like that.

    I have some sympathy for the idea that burning long stored carbon compounds may not be the greatest idea, particularly for useless purposes (Bitcoin mining, for instance).
    Also, our treatment of soils has been pretty bad leading to great reduction in soil carbon, at least where Ilive, and consequent reduction in photosynthetic potential. Fix that and you’ll fix much, and have a nicer place to live.

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  9. There was a time 2000-2005 (I think) when methane levels in the atmosphere were declining (against expectations). Increasing temperatures were expected to release much methane stored in, or beneath, permafrost so decreasing atmospheric methane levels were something ignored by the climate-faithful. Like global temperatures some graphs of atmospheric methane have been not so subtly massaged and display a mono tonic increase. It was speculated by some that the beginning of the century decline arose as the Russians mended their gas pipelines in Siberia. Whether this was an anti-Soviet myth I know not. I never encountered evidence one way or the other.

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  10. This story demonstrates an interesting development/trend in the reporting of GHG emissions. It seems to be an attempt to develop an attack on a new front, since attacking the developing countries (and China) who actually burn the fossil fuels is apparently politically incorrect (and of course contradicts the sacred text, the Paris Agreement). Now, instead, they attack the institutions which fund fossil fuel developments or the countries which export them:

    “Australian coal burnt overseas creates nearly twice the nation’s domestic emissions
    New data comes amid warning that world’s growing awareness of coal exports’ impact risks further damaging Australia’s reputation on climate”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jun/02/australian-coal-burnt-overseas-creates-nearly-twice-the-nations-domestic-emissions

    “Emissions from coal mined in Australia but exported and burnt overseas were almost double the nation’s domestic greenhouse gas footprint in 2020, according to new data.

    Australia and Indonesia were the biggest exporters of coal for making steel and burning in power stations, together accounting for 59% of the world’s seaborne coal market.

    When countries report their national emissions to the United Nations, only fossil fuels burned domestically are counted. But the impacts of the CO2 on the climate are the same, whether they are burned in Australia or overseas.”

    This point is absolutely true, of course, and is a fundamental problem with the Paris Agreement, yet the Agreement seems to be beyond criticism. It’s also interesting that there are a number of blind spots in the way the Guardian (and others) report(s) on these issues. No mention in this article of China or the Middle East oil states or Russia. No mention of Scotland, which wants to base independent nationhood on the receipts from North Sea oil and gas, but which is pro-EU and which makes a lot of noise about climate change, and so is presumably exempt from such criticism.

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  11. The Guardian article (by Graham Readfearn – a familiar name) seems to be suggesting that Australia should take responsibility for the emissions from the coal it exports to China, as well as, presumably, for the emissions caused in manufacturing goods exported from China to Australia. The only logical conclusion seems to be that we should cease all trade with China, and any other country fossil-fuelling its way out of poverty.

    By a strange coincidence, the Australian, US, British, French and German (!) navies are busy winding up the Chinese by patrolling the straits between Taiwan and the mainland. That should put them in a good mood for Glasgow.

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  12. Who is responsible for which emissions? The BBC’s “Reality Check” team has entered the debate:

    “Climate change: Does Germany produce double the UK’s carbon emissions?”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/58148881

    Note the shoehorning in to the first paragraph of a reference to the recent IPCC SPM:

    “The publication of a major report into climate change – warning of catastrophic consequences if the world does not act to limit global warming – has led to a renewed debate about what individual countries are doing.

    British Conservative MP John Redwood said the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in November would not produce the desired results, unless other nations including China and the US did more to cut their carbon emissions.

    And he had this to say about Germany on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s only going to work if Germany, which puts out twice as much as we do, starts to take the issue seriously and closes down its coal power stations.”

    So, is he right?

    The Global Carbon Atlas (GCA) publishes emissions data from around the world. It says in 2018, the UK emitted 380 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO₂) from the burning of fossil fuels.

    In the same year, Germany emitted 755 MtCO₂, about twice as much as the UK, and about 2% of the global total of 36,441 MtCO₂.

    So the figures for 2018 support Mr Redwood’s claim, but some context is needed when making this direct comparison.”

    Ah, yes, context. The very thing so often lacking from BBC reporting of climate change.

    “For a start, Germany is bigger than the UK. It’s home to 83 million people, 17 million more than the UK.

    It makes more things than the UK. Germany is a net exporter – meaning it exports more goods than it imports from other countries – whereas the UK is a net importer – meaning it imports more goods than it exports.

    Manufacturing accounts for twice as much of the economy in Germany as it does in the UK, according to the World Bank (23% of German national GDP, compared with just 11% in the UK).

    “Germany has a larger population than the UK, so it’s not too surprising total energy consumption and emissions are higher, because they have more residential and commercial buildings, and more cars on the road,” says Dr Mike O’Sullivan, a mathematician and climate researcher at the University of Exeter, who collects data for the GCA.

    There’s also the question of which emissions you are measuring.”

    Yes, true, but how about some proper context, like measuring PER CAPITA emissions? If we go down that road, then Germany’s emissions, per capita, are around 50% higher than the UK@s (coincidentally making Germany’s per capita emissions very similar to China’s).

    “Territorial v consumption emissions
    Climate scientists have two ways of measuring a country’s carbon footprint:

    Territorial emissions – this is how much CO2 is emitted within a country’s borders. It takes no account of emissions generated elsewhere by the manufacture of imported goods.
    Consumption emissions – this factors in emissions that come from the goods used or consumed in a country, including emissions from their production and delivery from abroad.
    So, every time a car is manufactured in Germany and sold to a driver in Britain, the UK’s consumption emissions increase, but its territorial emissions stay the same. The emissions from the factory that makes the car would count towards Germany’s territorial emissions.

    But once the car starts its engines in Britain, its emissions also count towards the UK’s territorial emissions.

    A total of 950,000 German-made cars were registered in the UK in 2016, according to the consultancy firm Deloitte.

    By measuring consumption emissions, experts can better understand how responsible a country is for emissions produced abroad (for example, by another country making the goods which it is importing).

    On this measure, the gap between the UK and Germany appears smaller.

    We asked Dr O’Sullivan to calculate the difference.

    “If we account for population size and traded goods, the UK’s emissions in 2018 were eight tonnes of CO2 per person, compared with 10 tonnes of CO2 per person for Germany, so 20% lower, not 50%.””

    While this is all about holding the UK’s feet to the fire and letting Germany off the hook, there is a very really point at issue, one of vital importance for the meaningfulness of the whole COP process, and also for the economies affected. And what’s the response of the UK Government spokesperson when asked about it? It’s to blandly re-state the official line and to ignore the issue:

    “When asked about the focus on territorial emissions, a government spokesperson told us: “Our emissions have fallen by 44% since 1990, the fastest of any country in the G7 [group of the biggest economies]”.”

    Which rather makes the point that many of us have been making for a long time – the UK’s rush to net zero is simply exporting emissions. And jobs. And wealth.

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  13. If the BBC recognizes that much of our reduction in CO2 emissions has been due to exporting manufacturing jobs, is there a chance that it might slowly begin to dawn on them that Net Zero is a lot less realistic? Or is doubt not permitted? Will they now reverse their opposition to the new coal mine?

    In that piece it feels as if we’re one little bridging spark away from the penny dropping.

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  14. A good article, IMO:

    “Greta Thunberg is right
    The way the UK compiles its emissions data is a sham”

    https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/greta-thunberg-is-right

    “The World Wildlife Fund has produced its own more directly comparable estimates. Between 1990 and 2016, it says, territorial-based greenhouse gas emissions fell by 41 per cent and consumption-based emissions by 15 per cent. Britain has made significant strides in cutting carbon emissions in the electricity sector — with the last coal-fired power station due to close in 2024. But so long as we are importing large numbers of goods from China and other countries which are still using coal power, we are not going to get anywhere near genuine net zero emissions. Indeed, Defra estimates that carbon emissions associated with UK imports from China rose by a whacking 64 per cent between 1997 and 2018.”

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  15. Ross Clark is a blessing to many parts of the climate/energy debate.

    Every time a factory closes in Britain and we start importing goods instead we effectively export, or offshore, our emissions. This is a point which I have been making in The Spectator since as long ago as 2007.

    One more data point for Damian Carrington there. Is Clark too merely the latest mutant variant thrown up by the death throes of denial? Or has he been completely consistent for 14 years and completely correct at the same time?

    The way he credits Greta takes real character therefore but he’s right to do so. Persuading others is never quite the same thing as stroking one’s own ego. (From: hard lessons my mother never told me.)

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  16. Richard, Ross Clark does indeed write some interesting stuff. And I like to think that I, too, have been consistent in giving credit to Greta for making a point that slippery politicians choose to ignore. As I once said about Greta in a discussion at Bishop Hill, I think she is a remarkable young woman – clearly she has charisma that operates on many people (even if I don’t see it), and she is very clear-sighted (though IMO wrong-headed). Certainly she sees an obvious truth that UK (and other) politicians and campaigners either don’t see or choose to ignore, namely that exporting emissions is not the same as reducing them. It’s an obvious point which many people take no notice of, and it’s a point that can’t be repeated too often.

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  17. Exported emissions have the potential to be a game changer. I did not make much of them in Denierland, but perhaps should have done. As an accountancy trick, this worked well. But in terms of actually reducing CO2, it obviously did nothing. The BEIS figures I referred to in Denierland (will have been updated) ran from 1990 to 2017, and showed that the emissions from electricity generation shrank by two thirds. Thus it is obvious that the scope for further cuts is limited to the remaining rump, and that the colossal expenditure on wind turbines etc will have incrementally lower returns (residential heating and transport aside, themselves large chunks).

    Industry’s emissions meanwhile declined by 40% over the 28 years. Logically this has to have been achieved by off-shoring, since our standard of living has not yet noticeably declined.

    If we now include our imported goods as an element of our overall footprint, we will necessarily be forced to reduce these, too, to zero in terms of their associated carbon dioxide emissions. And that of course must include mining, refining, manufacturing, transport, etc. The choice is then to force the exporting countries, and top of the list is China, to become Net Zero themselves, or else to place a tariff on such goods comensurate with their CO2 contribution. In neither case will China comply.

    We cannot maintain the standard of life we are used to if we adopt Net Zero. So much is obvious to the sceptic. It may well become obvious to the majority of the voters in due course.

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  18. I believe that the total carbon emissions from a manufactured item (wherever it or it’s parts were manufactured) or from a person’s way of life was once called a “carbon rucksack”. It carried the total carbon emitted by that item or lifestyle. I haven’t seen this term used in many a year, but environmental politics within UEA may still be using it.

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  19. Jit:

    We cannot maintain the standard of life we are used to if we adopt Net Zero. So much is obvious to the sceptic. It may well become obvious to the majority of the voters in due course.

    I say it will become obvious to a majority. That’s the way reality rolls. It’s a question of when and whether at that moment there will be the political freedom (in a two-party, first past the post system) to express this fact to real effect. For that we also need brave leaders.

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  20. “As I once said about Greta in a discussion at Bishop Hill, I think she is a remarkable young woman – clearly she has charisma that operates on many people (even if I don’t see it), and she is very clear-sighted (though IMO wrong-headed). Certainly she sees an obvious truth that UK (and other) politicians and campaigners either don’t see or choose to ignore, namely that exporting emissions is not the same as reducing them.”

    She has also seen a much more fundamental truth, which I mentioned in passing here: https://judithcurry.com/2019/07/29/child-prophets-and-proselytizers-of-climate-catastrophe/

    …which is that she *correctly* spotted the *apparent* hypocrisy between the catastrophe messaging turned up to 11 everywhere, yet *not* in any way the corresponding levels of action that there should be if this emergency was true. She could not believe (again rightly), that all her parents / guardians / teachers and indeed practically all the world’s leaders were all lying to her about the emergency. Hence she assumed instead that everyone in charge must all be lazy, or be fostering (e.g. fossil-fuel or political power) self interests, or be otherwise inept / corrupt or have their fingers in their ears. However, she unfortunately missed a third possibility, the one that happens to be true. The great majority of those in charge and indeed all the grass-roots supporters too, are not corrupt / lazy / dumb etc. They are simply *believing*. *Subconsciously* the great majority ‘know’ that there’s no emergency. Spouting the catastrophe narrative is just the virtue-signalling membership of a cultural club, which in fact adopts all possible solutions that will *not* solve the problem, but invests more time / money / effort in the culture (probably why Wind / Solar renewables get so much dosh).

    Her condition may have helped her spot the *apparent* hypocrisy (which is a feature of all cultures). People with Asperger’s interpret things too literally; they don’t have the ‘social decodes’ that enable them to divine the alternate (real) meanings. This may extend to not subconsciously decoding that the the climate emergency means only a flag of cultural club, which is correctly (and *subconsciously*) decoded by other adherents.

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  21. “20 meat and dairy firms emit more greenhouse gas than Germany, Britain or France
    Livestock companies with large emissions receive billions of dollars in funding, campaigners say”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/07/20-meat-and-dairy-firms-emit-more-greenhouse-gas-than-germany-britain-or-france

    “Twenty livestock companies are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than either Germany, Britain or France – and are receiving billions of dollars in financial backing to do so, according to a new report by environmental campaigners.

    Raising livestock contributes significantly to carbon emissions, with animal agriculture accounting for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Scientific reports have found that rich countries need huge reductions in meat and dairy consumption to tackle the climate emergency.

    Between 2015 and 2020, global meat and dairy companies received more than US$478bn in backing from 2,500 investment firms, banks, and pension funds, most of them based in North America or Europe, according to the Meat Atlas, which was compiled by Friends of the Earth and the European political foundation, Heinrich Böll Stiftung.

    With that level of financial support, the report estimates that meat production could increase by a further 40m tonnes by 2029, to hit 366m tonnes of meat a year.

    Although the vast majority of growth was likely to take place in the global south, the biggest producers will continue to be China, Brazil, the USA and the members of the European Union. By 2029 these countries may still produce 60% of worldwide meat output.”

    Not Britain then. It’s a potentially misleading sub-heading, since “receive billions of dollars in funding” could be taken as being free money, whether donations, subsidies, or whatever. It’s clear, however, from reading the article, that it’s arms-length investment on commercial terms that is being talked about.

    The report, by the way, can be found here:

    Click to access MeatAtlas2021_final_web.pdf

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