Friday, December 11, 2020
EU apparatchiks want a 55% CO2 emissions cut by 2030
After the Covid hysterical demagogues have caused lockdowns that have subtracted ~10% from Europe's GDP in a quarter, and perhaps 5% of the GDP in a more permanent sense, I was shocked to find out that the Gr*tenist terrorists (which are pretty much the same people) are still around, too. We surely need to cripple the European economy more than it was crippled so far, they say. The price of carbon indulgences went up from €25 last month to €31 a ton of CO2 (now). It was below €3 in 2013.
Poland (which still naturally exploits King Coal) has been fighting against similar insanities. In the new deal, it's just being stated that "poorer EU members will get a financial help" (how much of a help is being promised and similar details are extremely hard to find out: transparency about the planned EU blow to the national economies isn't needed, is it?) and "nuclear and lower-emissions energy sources will be allowed". The OK to the nuclear power plants is fine but the 55% target is still economically murderous.
Just consider some activities that produce CO2. Personal transportation yields a fifth of that. Will personal transportation contribute a representative 55% cut in the CO2 emissions? This could mean that 55% of the car owners will either forced to stop using cars; or replace their cars by new electric cars by 2030. Are you serious? The average worker has to work for years to earn the money for an electric car that is comparable to his or her current petrol or diesel car; he needs to save for one year to earn just the "electric premium" (roughly €10,000). Don't expect the electric cars to get much cheaper. The electric batteries are likely to become more expensive if the demand builds up.
Similarly, think about the electricity production. The CO2 reductions must involve the replacement of fossil fuels by some ludicrous sources of energy (wind, solar). Think how much more expensive those (and the batteries needed for stabilization to deal with the intermittency) are. You may want to know that (1-0.55)0.1 = 0.450.1 = 0.923 which means that in (geometric) average, the EU needs a 7.7% decrease of the CO2 emissions every year in the next 10 years. The EU emissions have never dropped by 7+ percent in a year, let alone 10 times in a row.
Meanwhile, other, saner parts of the world will avoid these suicidal policies (although a hypothetical America under Biden-Harris won't be sane, either). I think that intelligent enough people generally understand that it's a manifestation of national masochism to demand similar CO2 emissions reductions. But there is the deeper, more scientific layer of this whole discussion that is not generally appreciated.
One of the points is the following: Do you know that if the emissions drop by 55% or so, the CO2 concentration actually stops increasing and starts to decrease? The global annual CO2 emissions are about 40 billion tons or 0.04 trillion tons. The mass of the atmosphere is 5150 trillion tons. Divide 0.04 by 5150 and you get 7.8 parts per million. That's the percentage of the mass of the atmosphere that we're adding in the form of CO2 every year.
The normal percentage of the CO2 is measured as a fraction of the volume (which is equivalent to the number of molecules because a molecule occupies the volume that only depends on the temperature and pressure, not the type of the molecule, well, the volume is \(kT/p\), if you need to know). The "mass-based percentage of CO2" overstates the "volume-based percentage" because the CO2 molar mass (44 grams per mole) is above the average atmospheric molar mass (29 grams per mole). To get the percentage of the volume of the atmosphere that we're increasing in the form of CO2 per year, you need to multiply 7.8 per million by 29/44. You get 5.1 ppmv (volume) of CO2 per year. That's how much the concentration of the CO2 would be increasing per year if the CO2 stayed in the air.
However, if you study the CO2 daily concentrations, you will see that the global atmospheric CO2 concentration only grows by approximately 2.5 ppm a year in average, about one-half of the "expected" figure from the previous paragraph. It really means that aside from our "excess emissions" of 5.1 ppmv worth of CO2 per year, there must be some "excess absorption" that takes 2.6 ppmv back from the atmosphere.
Now, it's obvious why these opposite sign contributions exist and what they approximately are. There is an equilibrium relationship between the temperature and the CO2 (the oceans want to emit CO2 as well if they heat up) and it's clear that the equilibrium has been distorted because the CO2 is much more elevated than the temperature. In the glaciation cycles, 100+ ppm of a change in the CO2 concentration is close to the difference between ice ages (180 ppm) and interglacials (280 ppm of CO2) which should translate to the 8 °C increase or decrease of the temperature. We've surely not heated the Earth by 8 °C since the industrial revolution started. It follows that the processes that consume CO2 are strengthened. The oceans and the biosphere net-absorb some of the extra CO2. It follows that this extra absorption caused by the excess CO2 must be equal to the 2.6 ppmv that we mentioned above.
Another crucial fact that you must realize is that this 2.6 ppmv worth of absorption of CO2 by the natural system is independent of our CO2 emissions. It occurs because the CO2 is already elevated. The current CO2 concentration is about 414 ppm which is higher than 280-290 ppm that should be expected from the global mean temperature. And that is why the processes that love to consume CO2 are "accelerated". These processes cannot depend on our latest CO2 emissions figure. They cannot measure them. Oceans don't send spies to our chimneys. Forests don't do that, either. Even if they had spies, they wouldn't know which timescale of our emissions should be relevant. Because all these processes of CO2 absorption are local, they (oceans and forests) can only measure the "integrated" CO2 concentration, the percentage of CO2 that is "already" out there.
The purpose of the previous paragraph is to make you sure that if we stopped the CO2 emissions entirely, these processes – driven by the excess CO2 relatively to the temperature-based expectations – would continue. So the CO2 concentration would be decreasing by some 2.6 ppmv in the coming years (plus minus error margins). Instead of increasing by 2.5 ppmv a year, the CO2 concentration would go down by 2.6 ppmv because 2.5-5.1 = –2.6 ppmv and the subtraction simply corresponds to the assumed subtraction of all the man-made CO2 emissions. Now, it shouldn't be hard for you to see that the growth of the CO2 concentration by 0 (stationary state) is approximately in between the current state where it grows by 2.5 ppmv a year (40 billion tons of CO2 emissions a year) and the "no emissions idealized scenario" where it drops by 2.6 ppmv a year (0 billion tons of CO2 emissions per year).
It means that if you reduce the CO2 emissions to one-half of the current figure, about 20 billion tons a year, the CO2 concentration will get stabilized! With my figures, 55% is almost exactly the CO2 emissions reduction that you need for the stationary CO2 in the atmosphere because\[ 2.5 - 0.55 \cdot 5.1 = -0.305. \] Well, you can see that with the 55% emissions reduction, the CO2 concentration will start to decrease by 0.3 ppmv a year in the coming years. Assuming that you only care about the global mean temperature changes caused by the changing CO2 concentration, the target will do more than to stop climate change. If achieved globally, the target would slightly reverse the global warming. (Of course, if the temperature has been increasing [mostly] due to something else than the changing CO2, our CO2 reductions will do [mostly] nothing to that temperature change.)
Everyone who actively realizes that a warm weather is generally a good weather (the global mean temperature is some 15 °C, well below 23 °C that we like in the living room) may easily see that the global cooling induced by "more than 49% CO2 emissions reduction" (you get zero for 49% reductions, using my numbers above) will bring mankind to trouble. Our increase of the CO2 from 280 ppm to 414 ppm today has already increased the crop yields by some 15-20 percent (mostly due to the direct fertilization effect of the CO2). The reduction of CO2 back towards 280 ppm would undo this 15-20 percent increase – and it could lead to the starvation of 15-20 percent of mankind (between one and two billion people).
Only a sociopath could actively "want" this scenario to be realized. Sadly, Brussels is full of unelected sociopaths these days. They want to eradicate a few billion people by the crippled agriculture; on top of that, they want the survivors (especially the European ones) to be more miserable due to the damaged industrial economy (which is on top of the agricultural problems).
The planning of CO2 emissions for 10 years in advance is more arrogant than what the plans imposed by Lenin and Stalin – those comrades only had 5-year plans – and their comrade Hitler (the difference between Stalin and Hitler is that Hitler had 4-year plans). The European Union institutions are full of hardcore Bolsheviks and/or fascists such that the Soviet Union and the Third Reich could have only dreamt about this hardness! And on top of that, they don't plan to increase the wealth and the industrial production – as Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler mostly did. These comrades are planning the opposite.