Happy Birthday, Kyoto

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:34 AM GMT on February 20, 2006

Share this Blog
1
+

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol, which went into effect on February 16, 2005. The world's industrialized countries that signed the Protocol are legally obligated to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 by a total of 5.2% (compared to 1990 emissions) by 2012. The U.S. and Australia did not participate, and developing countries were not asked to. About 50% of world's emissions of greenhouse gases come from Kyoto nations, so if the treaty were successful, global emissions would fall by about 2.6%.

How are the signatory nations doing so far?
Not very well, according to both critics and supporters. It seems unlikely that Kyoto's goal will be met by 2012. For example, the European Environment Agency warned in November that the European Union was likely to cut its emission by only 2.5% by 2012, not the 8% they promised under the Kyoto Protocol. It now appears that the only EU members that might meet their targeted reductions are Sweden and the UK.

Below I've tablulated recent estimates (usually from 2003 or 2004) of how the various countries are doing, percentagewise, in terms of slashing their emissions compared to the 1990 benchmark.

Greenhouse gas emission increases, by nation, since 1990

EU countries (15% of world's total emissions)
------------------------------------------------- -----------
Germany -18%
Britain -13%
Luxembourg -11%
Sweden -2%
France -2%
Belgium +1%
Netherlands +1%
Denmark +6%
Italy +12%
Austria +17%
Finland +21%
Greece +23%
Ireland +25%
Portugal +37%
Spain +41%

Other Kyoto protocol countries:
-----------------------------------------
Russia -35% (6% of world's total emissions)
Japan +19% (5% of world's total emissions)
Canada +24% (2% of world's total emissions)
Czech Republic -23%
Estonia -51%
Hungary -31%
Latvia -58%
Lithuania -66%
Poland -32%
Slovakia -28%
Slovenia -3%

Non-signatory countries
---------------------------------
U.S. +16% (25% of world's total emissions)
India +80% (5% of world's total emissions)
China +46% (15% of world's total emissions)
Australia +31% (2% of world's total emissions)

Britain, Germany, and the former Soviet bloc countries have made big reductions. However, their cuts have had litte to do with Kyoto. Germany and some Soviet bloc countries got big one-time savings by closing inefficient coal-fired plants in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Economic hard times have also contributed to the emissions reductions in some of these countries. In the UK, electric utilities in the 1990s shifted from burning coal, which has high CO2 emissions, to cleaner-burning natural gas. Now that the price of natural gas has risen relative to coal, more UK utilities are burning coal. CO2 emissions are increasing once more, and were up over 1% in 2004 compared to 2003. The UK was slated to make a 12% cut in emissions under the Kyoto pact, and the government announced last week that this was unlikely to happen.

What can countries who are failing to meet Kyoto targets do?
Under the U.N.'s "clean development mechanism," developed countries are allowed to exceed their emissions allowance by investing in emissions projects in less-developed nations, trading the emission reduction abroad for emissions output at home. It is likely that many nations will resort to this trick in the coming years in order to meet the Kyoto requirements.

What happens if a country misses its Kyoto Protocol target in 2012?
Then they have to pay back at a penalty rate (130%) in the years after 2012, when there will presumably be a new agreement for the 2013-2018 period. Negotiations to hammer out a successor agreement are set to begin in May 2006 in Bonn, Germany. It is possible that countries that are failing to meet their Kyoto Protocol targets for 2012 will choose not to sign successor agreement, to avoid the penalty. Also, any nation that signed the Kyoto Protocol is allowed to drop out after three years--on February 16, 2008. Some nations may take this route to avoid the penalty.

Is Kyoto having a significant impact?
The Kyoto Protocol's target of a 5.2% reduction in emissions is tiny compared to what is needed in order to prevent substantial warming. Critics say this proves the worthlessness of the treaty, while supporters say it is a neccesary first step. In order to achieve a maximum 2�C temperature rise, some studies project global CO2 cuts of 50% by 2050 are required. Industrialized countries would have to cut their CO2 emissions by 80%. Considering that the world's nations that are trying to reduce emissions via the Kyoto Protocol are unlikely to meet even a 5% reduction, it looks pretty likely that we'll be seeing a much warmer world by the end of the century.

Is there hope for avoiding a major warming this century?
There is a large amount of uncertainty in both the social and scientific aspects of climate change that leave some hope that we will avoid warming the Earth by 2�C this century. I've composed a list of five possible scenarios that might cause this, and ordered them from most likely to least likely:

Dr. Jeff Masters' top five list of 21st Century scenarios that might keep us from warming 2�C this century:

1) A dramatic climate change disaster or potential disaster will suddenly unfold, spurring the nations of the world to cut emissions drastically (similar to what the emergence of the Antarctic Ozone Hole did for regulating CFCs).

2) We luck out, and climate change turns out to be at the cool end of the scientific uncertainty estimates.

3) The global economy will crash due to war, natural disaster, climate change, or other causes, bringing drastically reduced emissions.

4) A revolutionary low-cost energy technology will emerge to replace fossil fuels.

5) Aliens will land and give us their non-polluting, limitless energy technology.

I'm hoping for scenario #4 or #5, but I think there is a significant chance scenario #1 will happen in the period 15 to 50 years from now. We may well be pushing the climate system too hard and in too many ways to avoid triggering a climate shift that will cause big trouble for a lot of people. I'll expand on the possibilities in future blogs this month.

Next blog (probably on Wednesday): A possible candidate for scenario #1: the bad news from Greenland reported last Friday in Science magazine.

Jeff Masters

Cloud or flying saucer (Grim)
Cloud or flying saucer
Incoming Aliens (Lemurian)
Incoming Aliens

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 303 - 253

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7Blog Index

303. timoinnewton
2:12 PM GMT on February 23, 2006
Why are people so convinced that carbon dioxide is the reason for global warming? I still believe that the natural process is the main cause of global warming, and will continue to believe that until somebody and/or something proves me otherwise.

What natural process are you talking about?
Until sombody proves me otherwise I will trust the people that get paid to study such matters.
I'm not discussing what the cause of global warming matters anyway because.
1. The earth is warming very quickly,
2. That's not good,
3. It would be good to decrease the amount of warming.
4. One way to do that would be to decrease the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
302. bobrulz
3:52 AM GMT on February 23, 2006
Why are people so convinced that carbon dioxide is the reason for global warming? I still believe that the natural process is the main cause of global warming, and will continue to believe that until somebody and/or something proves me otherwise.
301. hurricanechaser
3:35 AM GMT on February 23, 2006
WOW! All my most heartfelt and genuine comments especially the one sharing the Gospel of Jesus respectfully and talking about how I am no better than anyone else has also been deleted intentionally!
300. hurricanechaser
2:39 AM GMT on February 23, 2006
Hey everyone,

It is obvious that you(dcw), Stormchaser(who I wrote a most heartfelt response to him which should've settled everything), and snowboy, and others who didn't see it are left with the incorrect impression because my most sincere and respectful and most importantly agreeable response to Bobburg was intentionally deleted so no one can see the truth.

Does anyone care about the truth?

Since you obviously never got the chance to see it, heres the comments from a blogger summarizes their opinion of my response.:)

(I intentionally will not disclose the indentity but its stil in the previous blog if you doubt its validity)


Hurricanechaser,

You may not think much of me, or my oppinion which is understandable, but I think you handled bobburg's comment very gracefully and directly and certainly I don't think his comment was called for as it served no purpose I could see other then to inflame the discussion again.


To Everyone on here, who will never know the truth because it was deleted as will this one be.

Worst of all noone will ever know I was not ever going to continue these responses ever again in this blog but this unfairness and coverup of the TRUTH deserves to be acknowledge.

Did you not notice how I honestly and sincerely acted like the Christian I should've been all along and made a committment to keep my Faith out of the blogs and was very respectful to Bobburgs comment even agreeing with him about turning the other cheek.

Heres the response I got....And notice how that most heartfelt post has been deleted and leaves me looking horrible in the blog history of the previous blg.

I can't tell you how unfair and disappointed I am about that.

I was hoping you could understand this.:)

From Bobburg on my mail.

"You're a Christian; you brought the world crusades, the inquisition, and Northern Ireland. And all the crap in between. You love fighting with everyone. You're also obviously fighting with yourself and your genetic predisposition towards homosexuality. But hey, no worries: As Mark Twain wrote, "All heaven redjoiced, happy you were going there. And so was hell.""


Thankfully, God knows the truth even if some of you don't care for it to be known and had it removed because you desire me to continue made to look bad.


Thanks,
Tony


299. Inyo
8:40 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
The US is where people want to be. It's true the government does fund a lot of universit research, but more of that is in the earth sciences and biological sciences, than in the technology area.

well, admittedly i am a biologist so this is where i draw most of my data. There aren't many companies doing research on ecology because it's hard to make a profit on it in the short term. however, as you know, it is very important in the long term (ask the people of new orleans)
Member Since: September 3, 2002 Posts: 42 Comments: 896
297. Skyepony (Mod)
8:31 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
F5 ~ I have to disagree with you that the govt doesn't give us alot of new technology. I have & do know alot of people that work at Kennedy Space Center, some for NASA. The things they create every day helping privite industry or just to do all this space stuff is amazing & all the technoligy is just handed to the companies to market. I could write the longest blog ever of everyday things that are in my house where the technoligy origanally came from NASA. Even the brand name EQyss horse shampoo here, developed to decontaminate astronauts.

I found an article on the study of the ice worms, the enzymes are wild ~

There's been increased interest in ice worms and other animals whose glacial habitat could disappear within the next 50 years due to global warming.

Organs harvested for transplant deteriorate as the cells' energy stores are depleted, he said. Examining the ice worms' metabolism may lead to drugs or chemical solutions that could keep organs alive longer.

There were alot of other new technologys mentioned that could come out of this study funded by NASA...
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 223 Comments: 39356
295. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
7:55 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
ForecasterColby ooops i am so sorry i did not no that was you so i am so sorry i take that back sorry


you there if you see this or get my e mail yet me no
293. oriondarkwood
7:49 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
ForecasterColby,

Your chart is wrong you forgot some pirates:

* Software pirates
* Music pirates
* Movie pirates

* Big Fat Cat corps that loot your wallet to finance thier "sweat shops" in other lands

* Legal Monoploies like phone, cable, trash that jack you for more money for anything they feel like cause they know thier is no one else for you to switch too

And the biggest pirate of all

****THE GOVERMENT***

(ROFLMAO)
Member Since: July 5, 2004 Posts: 51 Comments: 42
290. Oeneus
7:43 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
"The rain in Spain was mainly less than 2 inches"

Hee, hee, hee

Who says the NHC has no sense of humor?
Member Since: January 29, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 4
289. Cregnebaa
7:41 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
I'm going to do my bit and get a parrot and an eye patch Colby.
Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 323
287. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
7:13 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
ForecasterColby ooops i am so sorry i did not no that was you so i am so sorry i take that back sorry
286. ForecasterColby
7:11 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
Well, not being very nice to me today, KRWZ. As before, dcw=me.

By the way, I thought this was a great spin on the whole global warming issue - conclusive proof that global warming comes from lower pirate populations:

285. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
7:04 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
a cold front is draped from a 1004 mb low with gale
force winds and enters the area along 32n62w 30n71w then becomes
a warm front


dcw get lost
284. dcw
6:59 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
Chaser, you need to stop now. All further posts on the subject will be spamflagged by me, at least.
Member Since: August 2, 2001 Posts: 2 Comments: 3
282. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
6:46 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
hurricanechaser i am doing vary good today
280. gippgig
6:26 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
The NHC has released its report on Hurricane Vince. (www.nhc.noaa.gov/2005atlan.shtml?)
Member Since: December 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 70
278. hurricanechaser
6:09 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
Hey Jeff, Bob, and David,

Three of my favorite people on here.:)

How are you all doing?

Your friend,
Tony
276. weatherguy03
5:54 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
Yes during Hurricane season it worked. If you all dont find the topic relevant, hit the spam button and it will be taken care of my the Admin. Believe me this works! Thanks again Wunder!
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 592 Comments: 29708
273. Aaron Cowdin , Lead Developer (Admin)
5:13 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
I know this is probably late in coming, but I'm instituting the same policy here that we had in Hurricane season. Please, limit discussion to the topic at hand or at least remotely relevant topics. It you want to talk about other topics, you all have your own blog in which you can do so. Please help by flagging all off topic discussion as spam.
272. F5
4:58 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
Inyo,

Tell that to Microsoft, Intel, AMD, IBM, AT&T, Bell Labs, and all the other leading technology companies in the United States. The US is where people want to be. It's true the government does fund a lot of universit research, but more of that is in the earth sciences and biological sciences, than in the technology area. Not that there isn't a lot of funding in technology as well, but most technology innovations are coming from private industry, not from government funded research.
271. TPaul
4:53 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
Hurricanechaser,

You may not think much of me, or my oppinion which is understandable, but I think you handled bobburg's comment very gracefully and directly and certainly I don't think his comment was called for as it served no purpose I could see other then to inflame the discussion again.
Member Since: May 2, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 111
269. TPaul
4:44 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
bobburg,

At the moment the last of that argument is between Stormchaser and Hurricanechaser and hopefully it will get settled and all conversations will come back to the weather.

So, this may sound funny coming from me, but your comment was not helpful and ultimately Hurricanechaser has every right to respond directly to it. And being that your brought up the New Testament you have just opened it up again.

My hope is that Dr. Masters will post a new entry so that the topic is reset because I always try to live by the rule that you don't carry over from one thread to the next.
Member Since: May 2, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 111
265. bobburg
4:07 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
Hurricanechaser:

Try being New Testament: Turn the other cheek! This pathological need to keep defending yourself is so tired.
264. ForecasterColby
3:45 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
To whoever asked - the fantasy forecasting works like this:

Every few hours to a day, I'll post a new 'advisory'. You make your forecasts or ask questions about the enviornment as needed, and the person who does the best forecasting for each storm is added to a winners list. Take a look at my site if you're interested, I think it's the fifth forum down.
263. timoinnewton
2:03 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
Is there a link to how a person can decrease the amount of CO2 they produce?
thanks
tim
262. Cregnebaa
1:59 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
Great idea from the dutch, don't know where you'll park the SUV though?

Link
Link
Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 323
261. DenverMark
1:38 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
Good morning,everyone - One topic I'm going to look into more is to try to get an honest,unbiased idea of how much warming we've had,at least in North America. The Western Regional Climate Center is an excellent data source, and so is Environment Canada. I've already printed up a lot of data and am trying to put together a sample of airport stations with reliable data (i.e. instruments located well away from urban development/heat island influences, same observation time over the years,etc.), then average them up by region. I'd like to do comparisons such as the 1950s or 1960s vs. the last 10 years. Also, to compare even the '80s with the 1995-2004 data. I may start with Arctic stations,since that is where the most concern is, and there aren't problems with land use and urban heat islands except for a few locations such as Fairbanks,AK.

What's important to me is to be objective about the whole global warming issue. One thing that interests me is a statistic I saw somewhere on here that it took until 1975 to increase CO2 in the atmosphere from the pre-industrial level of 280 ppm to 330 ppm, and now in the last 30 years we've gone from 330 ppm to 380 ppm. In other words, we've added as much CO2 in the last 30 years as we did in the previous 150 years or so. This does seem to correlate well with an increase the rate of warming in recent decades. Also,we can't ignore the increased rate of glacier melting. True,glaciers have generally been receding since the Little Ice Age ended in the mid to late 1800s, but the pace has picked up in the last few decades.

This is just my opinion. Maybe Dr.Masters' scenario #2 will occur (we can hope). My guess is we will be looking at the 2 degree C increase. On the other hand, I have a real problem with doomsday scenarios of increases of 10C and 220 foot rises in sea level. I'm off to work, but look forward to everyone's comments.
Member Since: February 11, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 6988
260. DenverMark
12:57 PM GMT on February 22, 2006
Please,can we stop arguing and get back to weather/climate?
Member Since: February 11, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 6988
253. Inyo
8:27 AM GMT on February 22, 2006

Also, a weak layer of above normal temperatures is now present at the surface along the South American Coast, a feature typical of a mature La Nina.


hmm, i did not remember seeing that before.. very interesting. it did look like the layer was shallow although the depth/temperature reading was a week old so it was hard to say. Obviously we have only been watching la nina in depth for a few decades at most, so we don't really know how things like this work.

I hope the US stays a superpower for a while, since i have a lot of friends here, and since poverty is bad for my mountains. However, i feel like we have reached our peak and won't be nearly as much a force in the future. Only time will tell.. i do believe that from a purely economic standpoint, even if global warming is no facter, getting out of our reliance on oil and the middle east will help us a lot. Also, keeping the edge technologically which typically has been achieved largely by government funded research :)

Member Since: September 3, 2002 Posts: 42 Comments: 896

Viewing: 303 - 253

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Overcast
28 °F
Overcast

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Lake Effort Snow Shower Over Windsor, Ontario
Sunset on Dunham Lake
Pictured Rocks Sunset
Sunset on Lake Huron