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The Shocking Truth: How Far We Are From Meeting Our Paris Agreement CO2 Reductions

Buckle-up everyone, because I’m about to destroy your perceptions about how far we are from meeting our Paris Agreement COP21 CO2 reduction commitments. Stand by to be amazed!

You might think that we’re doing well in regards to our clean air commitments, after all, there are more electric cars (EV’s) replacing internal combustion engine cars (ICE) and coal power plants in many countries are being shuttered and replaced with natural gas-fired power generation (much, much, cleaner!) and that renewable energy (RE) represents almost all of the new power plants built over the past 5-years. (True, by the way)

Not bad. But far from good, as you’ll soon see.

So, let’s take a look at how far we are from meeting our 2015 Paris Agreement COP21 clean air goals. Remember, I said to ‘Buckle-up’!


What’s it Going to Take?

The short answer, of course, is more than you’ve got, more than your city has got, more than your country has got, and (so far!) more than our world has got. For example…

Let’s say that global aviation (all aviation, all the time — whether commercial airlines or private aircraft, helicopters, drones, etc.) represent about 2.1% of global CO2 emissions (even the airlines agree with this metric) and that starting tomorrow, all airlines and private aircraft in the world would suddenly stop flying. Forever.

Would THAT be enough for us to meet our COP 21 carbon emission standards?

No it would not.

OK, so, that wouldn’t do it, so let’s add all global shipping in the world (all ships at sea and on lakes that deliver cargo to various ports around the world) which combined add about 2.2% of the annual global carbon dioxide additions to our atmosphere. (Nobody disputes this number either)

Would THAT be enough for us to meet our COP 21 carbon emission standards?

No it would not.

Wait a minute. If we ended all annual global aviation and all annual global shipping tomorrow and forever! — doesn’t that represent a total of 4.3% of all annual global CO2 emissions?

Why, yes it does.

But even that won’t allow us to meet our COP21 CO2 commitments? Shouldn’t that amount of CO2 reduction be enough to meet those targets?

Nope. Not even close.

No, the scale of the global warming problem is much worse than we are able to correct via a simple 4.3% reduction in the annual global CO2 output.


I Need to Get to The End of This! What’s it Going to Take to Meet Our COP21 Targets?

Let’s get a look at some other, larger numbers.

Global transportation (all kinds of transportation, everywhere, on land, sea, and in the air) account for 29% of all global CO2 emissions. What if we cut all of it, beginning tomorrow and forswear all kinds of motorized vehicles forever; Would that do it?

Yes, it would.

But, we’d be forced to give up all cars, trucks, trains, ships, aircraft of all kinds, and any other kind of motorized vehicle, and we’d need to shop locally and travel on foot, bicycle or horseback. Forever.

OK, we can’t do that. Give me another option.

You got it!

So, primary power production (creating electricity from a combination of hydroelectric dams, thermal power plants that are coal, oil, or natural gas-fired, and nuclear power plants) that is consumed by residential users account for about 30% of annual global CO2 emissions.

Ready to cut the cord and live without electricity forever?

Probably not.

But, just for the sake of argument; If every residential user of electricity on Earth stopped using electricity tomorrow, would we meet our COP21 clean air commitments?

Yes, we would.

OK, we can’t do that. Give me another option.

Righto!

Industry (all industry, including all agriculture, everywhere on the Earth) create about 41% of annual global CO2 emissions — that’s everything from building ships, cars, aircraft, military equipment, paint, oil, diesel fuel and petrol production, beauty products, furniture, carpets, clothing, tires, shopping carts, all kinds of food and drink packaging, all food production, and farmers burning their fields to clear their fields for the next years’ crop.

Ready to give up on all that?

I didn’t think so.

But, just for the sake of argument; If every company and farm stopped producing tomorrow, would we meet our COP21 clean air commitments?

Yes, we would.

OK, we can’t do that. Give me another option.


What If We Shaved a Few Percentage Points From Each of Those CO2 Producers?

Would that work?

Maybe. But it would depend upon our level of commitment. It depends if we care about future generations of humans, of animals, and of the plant life on this planet enough to stick with it. But it wouldn’t be easy. In fact, life on Earth would change dramatically, in ways we can’t begin to imagine.

OK, we can’t do that. Give me another option.

I can’t, because there aren’t any.

It looks like we’re all out of options.


Throw Me A Bone, Here!

OK, there’s one chance in Hell (IMHO) for us to avoid a future global rapid warming scenario where the planet’s air temperature would become too hot to allow life to continue on the surface of our world.

And that is?

The BMW i3.

What?

The BMW i3 is a smallish SUV crossover that runs on battery power — not a large battery — that has a tiny one-cylinder onboard petrol engine to charge the battery when the vehicle is underway. The BMW i3 always travels on battery power (the petrol engine isn’t connected to the driveline, it exists only to keep the battery charged) and it has an onboard five-gallon petrol tank.

All of which means that the i3 takes you everywhere you want to go on battery power, and if the battery gets low, the tiny petrol engine automatically starts up to recharge the battery. You wouldn’t even notice it unless I told you it was on and charging the battery pack. It can even charge the battery when you park the car while you’re shopping if you choose that option setting via the onboard software.

How many cars and light trucks would need to be powered by such a system in order to meet our COP21 Paris Agreement clean air targets?

All new cars and light trucks would need to be powered by such a system for the world to meet its CO2 commitments, and we’d need to begin no later than 2022.

Could it be done?

Yes, of course.

Some larger trucks might need a tiny two-cylinder diesel engine to charge up their batteries (much larger batteries than the i3 uses) but that upgrade would prevent gazillions of gallons of diesel fuel being added to the Earth’s atmosphere annually.

The essence of this approach means that for millions of drivers, they’ll buy about five-gallons of petrol per month — instead of buying five-gallons of petrol per day for the average driver.

And when billions of people start using five gallons of petrol per month instead of five-gallons per day, that’s when annual global CO2 emissions will fall by approximately 14% — which is enough (barely) to meet our COP21 clean air commitments.

See the scale of the problem now?


Want to See the BMW i3 — and it’s Brother, the Mighty BMW i8 Supercar that Employs a Slightly Different Propulsion System?

Keep in mind, that in every way, the only difference between the BMW i3 and normal cars is the propulsion system. And similar applies to the BMW i8 supercar — although in that car, the system is geared to blazing acceleration and high speed performance.

Here are a couple of pictures of the future for you…

BMW i3 with range extender option

BMW i3 electric vehicle (EV) with one-cylinder petrol engine range extender option


BMW i8 Hybrid supercar

BMW i8 electric vehicle (EV Hybrid) supercar


Written by John Brian Shannon

UK Leads G7 in the Combined Metric of Economic Growth + Carbon Cuts

by John Brian Shannon

A new Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit report confirms that Britain has been the most successful G7 nation over the last 25 years on the combined metric of growing its economy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In the 25-years since 1992 when clean air and the corresponding lowering of healthcare spending became an important policy for the United Kingdom, the country grew its per capita GDP by 130% while lowering GHG emissions 33% — proving that a country can simultaneously grow their economy AND lower greenhouse gas emissions.

In the same timeframe, Japan grew its per-capita GDP by 83% while increasing its per-capita emissions by 10.5% — making it the worst performer of all the G7 nations. (Not to pick on Japan which has the most difficult population pyramid demographic problem of any nation on the planet)

“It’s really time to slay once and for all the old canard that cutting carbon emissions means economic harm.

As this report shows, if you have consistent policymaking and cross-party consensus, it’s perfectly possible to get richer and cleaner at the same time. Britain isn’t the only country that’s done it – it’s true for most of the G7 – but we’ve clearly been the best of the bunch.

There are signs that these successes are now transferring to the rest of the world. Globally, emissions have been flat for three years while world GDP has grown by 8%. But science indicates this isn’t enough to fulfil the objective of the UN Convention and prevent ‘dangerous’ climate change – for that, emissions need to start falling soon. This study should give confidence that with good policies, it’s achievable.” — Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit

And in the United Kingdom, Scotland has led the way on the switch from coal to renewable energy and it rightly deserves much of the praise handed to the UK over the ongoing clean air success story, while England and Wales deserve much of the credit for growing the UK economy. As usual, Northern Ireland is ‘holding its own’ and although it is presently caught in the middle of an election cycle it seems that it might ramp-up to follow Scotland’s environmental success, post-election.

Scotland sets 50% renewable energy target (BBC)

Pre-Brexit, UK Leads G7 In ‘Conscious Decoupling’ Of Economic Growth & Carbon Cuts (CleanTechnica)

The Road to Decoupling: 21 Countries Are Reducing Carbon Emissions While Growing GDP (World Resources Institute)


By far, the biggest reason UK emissions have dropped in every decade since WWII is a HUGE shift away from coal. At one time almost 100% of Britain’s electricity was sourced by brown or black coal. Some of which was replaced by hydro-power, and later, by nuclear. Eventually, even more coal-fired capacity was replaced by natural gas, and most recently, by renewables.

The inexorable march away from coal-fired generation in the UK has resulted in cleaner air. It is by far the biggest factor in Britain’s ongoing clean air success story.

Still, it’s not enough progress. Scotland has set the standard that the rest of the UK should follow — which will take strong leadership in the House of Commons.


The Way Forward for Clean Air, Lower Healthcare Spending, and a Thriving Economy for Britain

There are many ways to accomplish those goals and everything has its own particular cost. But two pathways jump out as the most beneficial per pound sterling.

ONE: Continue to replace coal-fired power generation with any other power generator. Yes, everything else burns cleaner than coal! Burning home heating fuel is cleaner than coal. Natural gas-fired power generation can be up to 1-million times cleaner than burning some grades of brown coal. Even upgrading coal-fired power generation from brown coal ‘lignite’ fuel to black coal ‘anthracite’ fuel results in astonishing improvements in air quality.

Fortunately, this is the (unevenly applied) default in the United Kingdom, which, when combined with the solid and thoughtful policies of Scotland and Wales, results in cleaner air, lower healthcare costs, and boosts economic growth via lower energy prices.

Record UK wind generation lowers electricity prices (Power Engineering)

TWO: In addition to everything mentioned above, the other low-hanging fruit leading towards cleaner air, to lower healthcare spending, and to boost economic output (by lowering energy costs) is via energy-efficiency.

Prime Minister Theresa May should recognize that no matter how cleanly we can generate one GigaWatt of electricity — energy-efficiency savings (demand reduction) that are equal to one GigaWatt are many times cleaner — and energy-efficiency improvements are typically simple and cost-effective.

Imagine a UK government policy that lowers primary energy consumption (demand) by 30% across-the-board over the next 5-years.

That’s possible with the right policy, and infinitely cheaper than adding the exact same amount of energy production capacity to the grid.

Cheaper, by orders of magnitude. In fact, the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant construction could be cancelled AND other proposed power plant projects could be shelved for at least a decade with that much efficiency added to the grid.

Simple programmes get the best results

If the UK government added an energy-efficiency programme shared between three government entities, costs and (importantly) accolades would be shared.

The Department of Energy & Climate Change, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and the Department for Communities and Local Government, would gain support from voters and expats by supporting a national energy-efficiency programme consisting of a £100 per capita credit on energy-saving electronics and materials.

For a business that employs 5 people, that’s a one-time credit of (up to) £500 towards energy-efficiency at that business, which will buy A TON of efficiency and thereby lower energy consumption/energy bills for that company.

All else being equal; Are those business owners more likely to vote Conservative in the next election? I would have to say, Yes.

Obviously, those 5 employees also live near their workplace and use electricity at home. Therefore, they too should receive a one-time (up to) £100 per capita credit at the hardware store for the purchase of LED or other energy-saving lights, smart thermostats, weather-stripping, insulation, receptacle gaskets and other energy-saving electronics or materials.

Each of those 5 people will now save significant amounts on their monthly electricity bill.

Again, all else being equal; Are those homeowners or tenants more likely to vote Conservative in the next election? The answer is likely to be affirmative if the present government decides to save each one of them, tens or hundreds of pounds per year on their annual electricity bill.

It sounds expensive until you consider the cost of adding 30 GigaWatts to the UK grid to cover wasted energy vs. spending a much smaller amount to conserve the same amount of energy.

There is simply no comparison. Energy-efficiency wins every time, and is dirt cheap in relation to the costs of building new power generation capacity.

A £100 per capita energy-efficiency credit is the way forward for clean air, lower healthcare spending, and a thriving economy for Britain (via lower energy costs) and pound for pound, nothing else comes close to accomplishing those goals at such a comparatively low spend.