IEA: CO2 Rose 1.4% In 2012, Climate Catastrophe Looms, Delaying Action Until 2020 Costs World $3.5 TRILLION!

So the good news is that the International Energy Agency reports U.S. emissions dropped in 2012 “while total CO2 emissions growth in China was one of the lowest in the last decade.” China’s annual carbon pollution now exceeds our by 60%!

The IEA sums up the not so good news in this slide:

Yes we are headed toward up to 9°F warming if we keep listening to the do nothing and do little crowd. And that, according to Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven, has “potentially disastrous implications in terms of extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and the huge economic and social costs that these can bring.

Doing nothing to reduce carbon pollution this decade also has a staggering net cost of $3.5 trillion — assuming that post-2020 we then tried to get back on the 2 C (3.6 F) pathway, as the report explains:

Delaying stronger climate action to 2020 would come at a cost: $1.5 trillion in low-carbon investments are avoided before 2020 but $5 trillion in additional investments would be required thereafter to get back on track.

The cost of staying on the 2C path this decade is not costly. IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol, who is the report’s lead author, said “We identify a set of proven measures that could stop the growth in global energy-related emissions by the end of this decade at no net economic cost.”
In this “4-for-2 C Scenario, global energy-related greenhouse-gas emissions are 8% (3.1 Gt CO2 equivalent) lower in 2020 than the level otherwise expected,” thanks to 4 key strategies

  • Targeted energy efficiency measures in buildings, industry and transport account for nearly half the emissions reduction in 2020, with the additional investment required being more than offset by reduced spending on fuel bills.
  • Limiting the construction and use of the least-efficient coal-fired power plants delivers more than 20% of the emissions reduction and helps curb local air pollution. The share of power generation from renewables increases (from around 20% today to 27% in 2020), as does that from natural gas.
  • Actions to halve expected methane (a potent greenhouse gas) releases into the atmosphere from the upstream oil and gas industry in 2020 provide 18% of the savings.
  • Implementing a partial phase-out of fossil fuel consumption subsidies accounts for 12% of the reduction in emissions and supports efficiency efforts.

One course of action puts the world on track toward minimizing climate impacts at “no net economic cost.” The other sets us up for either staggering economic costs to get back on track or staggering economic costs for dealing with him throughout the global warming. Guess which one the world appears poised to choose.

53 Responses to IEA: CO2 Rose 1.4% In 2012, Climate Catastrophe Looms, Delaying Action Until 2020 Costs World $3.5 TRILLION!

  1. Bart Flaster says:

    Runaway Train Continues to Runaway.

  2. ltr says:

    Look at the New York Times article just posted on warming or “lack of” which I do not understand and find confusing as it seems to discount warming for now at least.

    Justin Gillis wrote the article.

  3. ltr says:

    The New York Times article is going to surely be used in discouraging ways to discount the effect of warming, but is the science implied in the article significant?

  4. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    ‘Confusionism’ is an old denialist tactic. One of many.

  5. BobbyL says:

    It appears CO2 from energy sources increased at only about half the rate as usual. Apparently this drop in the rate of increase was largely due to slower emissions growth in China. If this were attributable to a plan to reduce emissions it would be welcome news but it seems to be due to circumstances which vary from year to year without any reason to believe that the downward trend in rate of increase will continue and lead to an actual decrease in emissions.

  6. Sadly, the EPA is following in the wake of the EIA and reporting US greenhouse gas emissions as if methane is released at rates stated by the gas industry, rather than rates exposed by independent research.

    At least the EPA is clear about the choice in the latest US greenhouse gas emission inventory. And they ask for input on it.

    Bottom line, though, is that US overall GHG emissions are being reported as going down based on the switch from coal to gas, the benefits of which are likely not to withstand scrutiny.

    And thus the alleged emissions reductions are likely to evaporate as well.

  7. Merrelyn Emery says:

    I doubt that when action on the agreement was set at 2020, the negotiators had any notion of how the disaster bill would go exponential. We will collectively be a lot poorer by then, and many could be broke, ME

  8. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Catastrophy Looms.
    Wrong! Catastrophy is already locked in. Extinction looms, ours that is.

    Not that preparation and mitigation require different actions. We only disagree on how bad, how soon.

  9. Glen Etzkorn says:

    With the comment: ” The share of power generation from renewables increases (from around 20% today to 27% in 2020), as does that from natural gas.” the latter mention of natural gas is a bogus interpretation as the actual use of fracking gas is enormously emitting a greenhouse gas called methane multitudes in damage compared simply calling it a clean burning fuel. Reports all things considered this type of natural gas is reportedly worse than burning the dirtiest coal.

  10. Sasparilla says:

    Nice overview of the IEA report Joe, thank you.

    Excellent choice with the slide, boy is the rise getting vertical on it.

  11. Sasparilla says:

    China is having economic issues due to their export markets not being good shape (Europe the biggest one) so that is probably a good chunk of the unexpected from China.

  12. ltr says:

    The “lack of warming” article has no sources or depth but is being highlighted by the New York Times and is disturbing, presuming I am reading correctly.

  13. prokaryotes says:

    After release of report, UN climate change body reiterates now is ‘crucial moment’ to act

    “By seizing the opportunities described in the report, businesses and Governments at all levels can catalyze climate action and open the political space for a universal climate agreement,” Ms. Figueres said.

  14. Paul Magnus says:

    Only Kenyans can fly!

    Note that France, with 80% nuclear power generation and presumably reasonable hydro is still way above the climate budget.

  15. Paul Magnus says:

    ‘Delaying stronger climate action to 2020 would come at a cost’

    or not. ie we are very likely at a point were no matter how much we spend catastrophe is inevitable. And even if we were just behind that mark spending that much would be catastrophic anyway.

  16. rollin says:

    If you have not done it already, it is time for every citizen to reduce their energy use by 50% and stop buying any unnecessary items or services. If you have done this, then spread the word.
    We can’t leave the planet but we can leave the system.

  17. MarkF says:

    three trillion dollars will probably end up being far too low a number.

    and I expect there are many things that can’t be valued in money, that aren’t included, which will be lost.

    given the things that have happened in the past few years,

    the fires, (Russia in flames) the heat, (european heat wave,thousands die) the endless floods, the hurricanes, the drought, water depletion, dying forests, extinction, Ocean acidifying, on and on, and on,

    I wonder what it will take to spur action, what’s the “Pearl Harbour” going to be?

  18. Spike says:

    And a sleeping giant is already stirring:

    “Permafrost soils are warming even faster than Arctic air temperatures – as much as 2.7 to 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius) in just the past 30 years,” Miller said.

    The CARVE science team is busy analyzing data from its first full year of science flights. What they’re finding, Miller said, is both amazing and potentially troubling.

    “Some of the methane and carbon dioxide concentrations we’ve measured have been large, and we’re seeing very different patterns from what models suggest,” Miller said. “We saw large, regional-scale episodic bursts of higher-than-normal carbon dioxide and methane in interior Alaska and across the North Slope during the spring thaw, and they lasted until after the fall refreeze. To cite another example, in July 2012 we saw methane levels over swamps in the Innoko Wilderness that were 650 parts per billion higher than normal background levels. That’s similar to what you might find in a large city.”

  19. Superman1 says:

    “Extinction looms, ours that is.” How do you know extinction is not already locked in?

  20. Superman1 says:

    “The cost of staying on the 2C path this decade is not costly.” If 2 C places us in the Extremely Dangerous regime, as Kevin Anderson believes is the consensus of the climate science experts, then the quoted statement is irrelevant. Maybe we should pick a target that won’t drive us over a cliff, and then see what the costs and associated draconian sacrifices are.

  21. BobbyL says:

    I think this is a good article on the limits of knowledge of climate science. It is important to realize what we don’t know as well as what we do know. As far as I can determine scientists believe the climate models are pretty accurate for predicting temperature changes over many decades but these models are not good for predicting changes over a particular 10 or 15 year period. Apparently much more scientific understanding is needed to do that.

  22. esop says:

    Europe is once again flooded and the damage cost is skyrocketing.
    At the same time, the latest polls in Northern Europe show that majority of the population is not at all concerned about the negative consequences of AGW, especially the youngest generation.
    Slowly boiling frogs come to mind. As does the Fermi paradox.

  23. ltr says:

    What you are saying then is that we know too little about climate change to make dramatic changes in the ways in which we live now. After all, we may go decades with no warming recorded.

    This seems wrong and I do hope Joe Romm will address the matter. I am bothered by the New York Times article.

  24. Gingerbaker says:

    Reduce our energy use by 50%? Why??

    What we need to do is reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The best way to do that is deploy more renewable energy infrastructure, not by keeping the carbon fuel infrastructure in place but somehow just use less of it.

    Energy use is NOT the problem. Dirty energy is the problem, and to reduce that requires action by the government, not necessarily individuals.

  25. Mike Roddy says:

    According to climate scientists I’ve spoken to, 3C is the same as 5C. Either will trigger feedbacks that will take us toward catastrophe. This needs to be addressed.

  26. Mike Roddy says:

    Thank you, Kevin. The media has been muzzled on this subject, since Koch and Exxon are heavily invested in natural gas. We are the victims of a coup d’etat by the oil companies, and nobody is standing up to them.

  27. Gingerbaker says:

    “Delaying Action Until 2020 Costs World $3.5 TRILLION!”

    Cost to buy enough solar PV panels to replace all carbon fuel needs in the U.S. :

    $450 billion.

    That’s about 1/3rd the development cost of a single Pentagon weapon system – the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

    It’s the cost of ten new aircraft carriers.

    It’s peanuts.

  28. SecularAnimist says:

    Superman1 wrote: “Maybe we should pick a target that won’t drive us over a cliff, and then see what the costs and associated draconian sacrifices are.”

    Go ahead. Please.

    Tell us what the target is.

    Tell us what the costs will be, and exactly what “draconian sacrifices” will be required, to reach that target.

    We’re waiting.

  29. ltr says:

    I think the article is damaging to those who are trying to explain climate science to ordinary people. The New York Times article could have come from a denialist.

  30. Gingerbaker, another nom de plume for “troll,” perhaps?

    Obviously, to meet the need for rapidly phasing out greenhouse gas emissions, we need to _both_ slash energy use overall, and convert the remaining energy use to true renewables.

    Energy conservation _is_ the low hanging fruit.

  31. Superman1 says:

    Well, you’ve called Gingerbaker a troll, and myself a troll. You’re following the footsteps of Secular; when there’re no arrows in the quiver, hurl mud!

  32. Superman1 says:

    I’ve probably told you a hundred times already. In recent weeks, many of the posters here have come to the realization that the only hope of avoiding the cliff is draconian fossil fuel reduction NOW; eliminate all non-essential uses. We need to get as close to 1 C as we can if there is any chance of avoiding the cliff.

  33. Superman1 says:

    “another nom de plume for “troll”. The pot calling the kettle black, perhaps? Oh, BTW, the low-hanging fruit is eliminating all non-essential uses of fossil fuel NOW! Your and Secular’s renewables investor buddies will have to wait for the final run on the casino!

  34. Superman1 says:

    And, in parallel, rapid carbon recovery and, if possible, low-risk geo-engineering. Rapidly reducing the aerosol shield reduces the Albedo, and exposes us to the possibility of transient temperatures over the ceiling; the other parallel measures must be employed judiciously for this reason.

  35. BobbyL says:

    The New York Times in this case is providing valuable scientific information. It is not up to the Times to decide how the information will be used. Just because the climate deniers misuse information doesn’t mean the NY Times mean should stop printing it. They have an obligation to print scientific information on climate regardless of who out there is distorting what is reported.

  36. SecularAnimist says:

    Superman1 wrote: “You’re following the footsteps of Secular; when there’re no arrows in the quiver, hurl mud!”

    Yes, Superman1 — we are all familiar with the age-old rhetorical gambit of projection, which has been shamelessly used by trolls like yourself since USENET was young. When you are going to do something dishonest and stupid, the first thing you do is accuse your target of doing just that.

    You post dozens of comments here full of sneering, belligerent, gratuitous, juvenile name-calling, attacking the intelligence and ethics and character and even the genetics of other commenters, and then when multiple other commenters finally get fed up with your content-free BS and call you out on it, you whine about “slinging mud”.

    You are a real laugh, all right — for folks whose idea of “funny” is one of those clowns whose one and only trick is to trip over his own feet and fall on his face again and again.

  37. SecularAnimist says:

    Superman1 wrote: “draconian fossil fuel reduction NOW; eliminate all non-essential uses”

    Yes, we have all seen you post that content-free bumper sticker slogan over and over again. It means nothing.

    What “non-essential uses”? List them. Be specific.

    What “draconian fossil fuel reduction”? I have aleady reduced the fossil fuel consumption of my home to zero, by using 100 percent wind-generated electricity. And I have drastically reduced the GHG footprint of my food supply by eating a 100 percent vegan, organic foods diet, much of it locally grown. These are things that pretty much anyone in America can do, with no “draconian” effects whatsoever.

    What are the specific fossil fuel reductions you are talking about? And what exactly is “draconian” about them?

    Are you suggesting that such reductions be imposed by government action? If so, how will that be done? By what level or agency of what government? In accordance with what law? Passed by what legislature?

    If you are capable of anything more than regurgitating vacuous slogans (accompanied by gratuitous, childish insults), now’s your chance to show it.

  38. Superman1 says:

    Making unverifiable claims about your lifestyle is below irrelevant. For most Americans, having to give up vacation travel by fossil-fueled transportation, having to eat a vegan diet, having to forego the fossil-fueled processed items that form the backbone of our economy, and myriad other similar lifestyle changes, would be considered draconian. It would also lead to deep global Depression.

  39. Mark Belgium says:

    Draconian numbers:
    Global carbon budget : 565 Gigatons (to avoid the 2°C temperature rise)
    World population: 7 billion (= Giga)
    Let’s by just and treat everybody the same: 565 / 7 = 80.7 tons per capita (world)
    US carbon dioxide emissions per capita: 17.2 tons per annum.
    80.7 tons / 17.2 tons per annum gives you 4.7 years to blow away your budget.
    If you live in Malawi with 0.1 tons per annum you have 807 years to go.

  40. Gingerbaker says:

    “Obviously, to meet the need for rapidly phasing out greenhouse gas emissions, we need to _both_ slash energy use overall,…”

    Sorry, but it is NOT obvious. If and when we get all our energy from green sources, we can use as much energy as we want. We don’t need to go on some crash program to “slash” energy use. That’s the sort of talk that deniers like to use, to make the prospect of renewable energy unattractive.

    There is no need whatsoever to suffer, or reduce our standard of life, in order to reduce our greenhouse emissions to next to zero. What is requires is simply building enough renewable energy infrastructure, and using that clean energy instead of using fossil fuels.

    I would propose public financing of large-scale renewables, and giving the energy away for free to eliminate any demand for fossil fuels.

    PS – watch that you don’t call me a troll again, thanks.

  41. SecularAnimist says:

    Thanks for making it clear that when you say “draconian sacrifices”, you are referring to lifestyle changes that are either trivial and inconsequential, or that actually improve one’s well-being.

    This site really needs a “Bore Hole” like the one into which the RealClimate moderators dumped your blatantly dishonest trolling, arrogant nonsense, and puerile insults.

  42. BobbyL says:

    What next after the 2C boundary indeed. That’s a refreshingly realistic article after having read and heard so much babbling from politicians and activists about limiting warming to 2C. This dialog needs to begin.

  43. FrankD says:

    “We need to get as close to 1 C as we can if there is any chance of avoiding the cliff.”

    At what temperature do we reach “the cliff”, Superman? What will happen after we pass that point that would not happen if we “avoided the cliff”?

  44. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Such stories are a dime a dozen in Murdoch’s Australian rags, The Australian, in particular.

  45. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It’s funny how apologists for the MSM propaganda system try to exculpate the MSM by the ludicrous argument that they are not responsible for how denialists use their denial-friendly misrepresentations. It’s like arguing that the bomb-maker cannot be blamed if some nasty ‘terrorist’ decides to detonate his creation.

  46. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The Chinese have made a specific pledge to reduce the carbon intensity of production, which they are meeting.

  47. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Statistics these days are invariably fudged for political convenience. Neither ‘side’ complains because the practise is useful to both.

  48. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Silentium universi

  49. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Better deep Depression than eternal night.

  50. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Careful, Mark, or the Tea Party will want to invade Malawi.