In A Net Zero Carbon Roadmap for York, Professor Gouldson estimated York’s share of the remaining carbon budget for 1.5°C. It was 50 tonnes CO2e per citizen from the beginning of 2020.
The remaining carbon budget is the amount of greenhouse gases, that humanity can emit while still having a chance to contain global warming within 1.5°C compared with pre-industrial levels, as advocated by the Paris Agreement.
Flying is one of the most carbon intensive activities: More CO2 emitted for every pound spent.
As noted in the previous post, Green Growth or Degrowth, carbon intensity is a measure of the amount of CO2 emitted (in grams CO2) for each unit of economic output (e.g. in £). Worldwide it’s presently over 500 grams CO2 for every £ of economic output produced.
Activities with high carbon intensities
For 50 years or more carbon intensity has declined: For a given amount of economic output (Gross Domestic Product or GDP) there has been less CO2 emitted. This has been a steady downward trend. Doubling the rate of decline only allows a very small increase in GDP – if emissions are to keep within carbon budgets.
This post sets aside the concerns of the previous post, Net-zero is not good enough. This post discusses strategies to get to net-zero – the time when residual emissions of greenhouse gases are balanced by their removal. It relies on two excerpts from the Global Carbon Project 2021– plus an estimate of future economic growth from the International Monetary Fund.
The link between greenhouse gas emissions and economic activity (GDP) is strong: The greater GDP, the greater the emissions of greenhouse gases.
There is a simple factor, which helps understanding of this relationship. It is the carbon intensity of economic output, a measure of the amount of CO2 emitted (in grams CO2) for every unit of economic output (e.g. in £). Worldwide it’s presently over 500 grams CO2 for every £ of economic output produced.
I have been very surprised by the lack of understanding about the way in which Earth is warming. Nigella’s cake will be an analogue of the Earth, for those who misunderstand.
When the cake is put into the oven and the heat switched on, electricity heats the oven till it reaches 130 °C. Soon after, the surface of the cake reaches 130°C (well nearly!) and stays at that temperature. Just below the surface, the cake is still heating. It takes several hours for the heat to penetrate deeper.
The greenhouse effect is heating the Earth due to extra greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In the cake analogue these gases are like the electricity that heats the oven.
Worryingly, during the run-up to COP26, fossil fuel companies have been given special access to BEIS ministers. DeSmog reports:
Analysis by DeSmog shows ministers met representatives from companies including Shell, BP and ExxonMobil 149 times between April and June, the three months covered by the transparency data release. Ministers met renewable energy producers just 17 times over the same period, of which 11 meetings were with Danish power company Ørsted.
The revelations sparked concern among campaigners, who cited an apparent contradiction between the UK government’s net-zero target and the privileged access given to big polluters.