US CO2 emissions are 10% lower than in 2000. All of that “progress” occurred without a cap-and-trade bill, much debated in 2009-2010. The recession was the biggest factor since 2007, but so was: more use of biofuels (RFA: to 13 billion gallons last year from 4 billion in 2005), better engines, industrial efficiencies, and less coal use. US CO2 emissions peaked in 2007 at 6 billion metric tons, and dropped to 5.3b in 2012. EU-27 emits about 4 billion. China is the new leader in carbon emissions since 2007. China surged past 10 billion tons, triple its levels in 2000, jumping from 1 billion to 3 billion tons of coal consumption between 2000 and 2010. India emits 2 billion tons now, as does all of Latin America, and likewise, Russia with Ukraine, and Japan when combined with Korea. Of the big players, only China is growing their carbon emissions. The rest of the impoverished world (ROW) cannot cease development.
Cancel COP; Shift to the “Fossil 5”
Basically, the only countries that matter now on carbon emissions are China, USA and the EU [graph]. No progress can be made now via the UN Conference of the Parties (COP) Process:
1) North America (NAFTA) and the EU have already peaked with emissions, in 2005; Europe is not growing, and the USA is idling coal and bringing on better engines, hybrid cars, and biofuels. A large volume of cheap natural gas in North America, with a strong outlook for decades, has changed the competitive landscape in electricity, and is drawing some factories back on-shore (chemicals, fertilizer).
2) Russia and FSU are still well below the old Soviet days after shutting down inefficient factories; they won’t do more than build more nuclear, which curbs emissions. And, they lack population growth.
3) Populations in Japan and South Korea are not growing either. Oceania and Southeast Asia are not material in the global GHG mix, other than as minor carbon sinks.
4) Sub-Saharan Africa emits less than all of India, almost half of it from South Africa alone (with just 5% of the continent’s population). Both subcontinents need to develop, and face severe government capacity issues locally. The same is true for Latin America, blessed with much hydropower.
Curtailing electricity and energy for the poorest 40% of the planet when they don’t have much is immoral, and destructive, and helps spawn “failed states”.
5) That leaves China and the Middle East (with the Maghreb), the two most fossil dependent regions with growing populations. Their emissions per capita are less than a third that of developed countries (OECD), so there will be a permanent impasse in any UN negotiations. And, much of the carbon already in the atmosphere was put there by OECD countries developing their economies (!)
Hence, UN Global climate change negotiations are checkmated. But, the “Carbon-cappers” continue to move pieces on the board of a done game, perhaps to justify their own bureaucratic existence.
Basically, what is needed for negotiating any agreement on carbon fuel usage and making better use of our “heritage fuels” for access by future generations is for USA (as NAFTA), EU [or OECD], China, and OPEC with Russia to meet in a room at the IMF, and that’s it. This also contains all the UN Security Council “P5” powers. A workable meeting of the “F5” – the “Fossil Five” + IMF – would make much more progress than the cacophonous COP carnival, now a tented monstrosity that emits more GHG gas than it saves. The beauty of the F5 is that they need not be the ideal group, only better than COP. [Alternatively, perhaps the COP process was secretly conceived by fossil fuel companies to ensure a dragged out process with little progress.] What fuels will our grandchildren use?
Monetary Policy for the long term: The IMF, using Special Drawing Rights, could incentivize fossil savings by purchasing Treasury bonds with GHG savings warrants, thereby creating a derby, and fomenting a market. It’s the inverse of a carbon tax. [And, IMF has fences to mend after imposing austerity on many societies]. Now that Central Banks are engaged in a new suite of practices, they can do something for the next generation. The IMF coupons could be used to reduce a little sovereign debt [some is not going to be paid anyway] via the SDR warrants. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) for international transfers and credits can be bolted to this process. Call it “Quantitative easing for the planet” -- some real collateral. Even those with best intentions need to birth results at some point.