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What is happening? Are global carbon emissions up or down?

David Klein

Barry Saxifrage provided the following informative response to a question from Brad Hornick about net global greenhouse gas emissions as follows.


On Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 12:16 PM, Barry Saxifrage <eco@saxifrages.org> wrote:

My view of the data, are detailed in my recent articles:

(1) FOSSIL DATA: These 'missing charts' may change the way you think about fossil fuel addiction

(2) ATMOSPHERE DATA: Atmospheric CO2 levels accelerate upwards, smashing records

Bottom line is that "global CO2 emissions" from all sources into the atmosphere continue to increase. As Hansen recently wrote, they are actually accelerating upwards. This is easily measured. There is no climate turning point in the metric that matters most: CO2 levels in the air. Here is my chart from article (2) listed above. The last two years broke the +3.0ppm mark for first time ever. Just look at the trend lines. Plateau anywhere?

Then there is the issue of how much GHG (not just CO2!) is being released by humans. That is also going up. Finally there is the issue of how much CO2 is being released by fossil fuel burning. To understand if we are on a climate hopeful path on this we need to consider that climate safety requires we start to turn all three fossil fuel knobs to zero: oil, gas and coal. Here is the trend in the fossil fuel data for each:

* OIL: Way up! Rising CO2 from oil and global GDP getting oil-dirtier (oil-CO2/%GDP is increasing).

* GAS: Way up! Rising CO2 from natural gas.

* COAL: Reported to be down. This is the only knob that might be turning down and it is likely incorrect data. COAL data has been incredibly wrong many times in the past. The question is how incorrect. As my articles point out, coal reporting is not verifiable and is reported in "good faith" by coal burners. As we all know, there are huge pressures to fudge. I note that four VW execs are in jail today for fudging emissions numbers in a cautionary tale of human tendencies. China won't use their own COAL numbers internally in their own carbon market. China has made massive COAL stat mistakes before. There were headlines a few years ago about how China was reducing coal. But they weren't, it was a reporting error they later corrected...and because there is no way to verify coal burning stats, nobody could find out either way. Surveys by China show their biz routinely fake emissions numbers. I think it is over 50% of biz they inspected.

To believe fossil fuel emissions are flat requires believing self-reported coal numbers with no verification. I don't, personally. But even if you believe the coal burners, that still doesn't mean we are heading in the right direction with fossil fuels...because OIL and GAS are leading the energy expansion and locking in failure. And overall humans are burning fossil for MORE ENERGY every year. Increasing dependence.