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GeoffBeacon

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A reference personal carbon budget
« on: June 10, 2019, 06:53:35 AM »
The world is dependent on activities that cause greenhouse gas emissions. These make the Earth's climate worse. The relationship between emissions and the "badness" of climate has not been expressed simply enough for most people to easily follow.

One useful concept is remaining carbon budget. This is used in different forms. One example is the remaining CO2 budget for a 66% chance of keeping the mean surface temperature of the Earth below a 1.5C rise since pre-industrial times. This was estimated in IPCC SR15.

I'm skeptical of

  • The use of global mean surface temperature. There is too much scope for interpretation and we should be more interested in the consequences for life on Earth (floods, droughts, heat deaths &etc.).
  • There are other important measures that are not directly related to GMST such as ocean heat content or global ice volume.
  • The way the basket of greenhouse gases is compiled by international protocols is problematic.
  • Climate models. e.g. missing feedbacks.

However, when lobbying policy makers and policy influencers we need something straightforward to say. For this we a reference figure for a global greenhouse gas budget. To make it personal, it is best expressed by dividing the total budget by the world's population.

It should be expressed as CO2e to account for other GHGs. It should not to be tied to a particular GMST. It should simply be the quantity of GHGs that every human can reasonable emit.

Reasonableness is a personal judgement but it opens up the possibility of discussion. e.g.
  • "Is your estimate high because because you think the consequences of a  2.0C rise are bearable?"
  • "Is your estimate low because you believe extra feedbacks  will cause strong forcing?"

Reasonableness is a personal judgement but perhaps "experts" carry more weight. Different "experts" will likely have different estimates but a consensus figure will be useful.

It could be called the reference personal carbon budget.

My estimate based on IPCC SR15  is 64 tonnes CO2e.

What's yours?



P.S. At a recent conference I said
Quote
We each have a personal budget 64 tonnes CO2e left, and this development is for people emitting 15 tonnes CO2e/year. We must find a better way.

Was that reasonable?
« Last Edit: June 11, 2019, 12:32:19 PM by GeoffBeacon »
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Neven

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Re: A reference personal carbon budget
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2019, 07:46:11 AM »
It's not really an estimate I've done myself, but I thought it was more like 100 tonnes. I mean, that's hard enough to achieve for the rest of my life (I'm 45), but 63 tonnes would be even more difficult, especially for children in the west that are still in the midst of their process of total consumer conditioning.
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nanning

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Re: A reference personal carbon budget
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2019, 07:55:22 AM »
I have a different view on 'Carbon Budget'.
Quote
The world is dependent on activities..
Do you realise what you mean by "The world"?

We (all of Earth's life) are 135ppm on the wrong side. There is no special carbon budget for humans.

sark

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Re: A reference personal carbon budget
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2019, 08:39:44 AM »
I'll note that the SR1.5 came out within weeks of the previous "carbon budget" for 1.5C was depleted, and gave it 8 more years.  I'm skeptical that this update was driven by science more than by politics.  It's just.

whether we want to emit 360 more gigatonnes or 1100 more gigatonnes, the math is simple.  360 gigatonnes / 7.7 billion = 46.75 tonnes remain for each person on earth.  At the global average of 5.25 tonnes per annum, that's a shade under 9 years before the world population would need be carbon neutral.
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GeoffBeacon

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Re: A reference personal carbon budget
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2019, 10:41:46 AM »
It's not really an estimate I've done myself, but I thought it was more like 100 tonnes. I mean, that's hard enough to achieve for the rest of my life (I'm 45), but 63 tonnes would be even more difficult, especially for children in the west that are still in the midst of their process of total consumer conditioning.

It should be accepted that those stuck in societies where budgets are routinely greatly exceeded cannot cut their GHG emissions without changes in their societies. For example, taxes are collected by governments for activities, which cause emissions. Wars are a good example.

Although this measure has strong implications for morality, it has a local context. Aubrey Mayher recognises the international context in the principle of Contraction and Convergence.

My interest is town planning and how local communities can be designed so that they are "environmentally sustainable".  An early stage of this is identifying schemes which are claimed to be sustainable but actually have terrible footprints. Another is the creation of an Institute of Enhanced Town Planning to design lifestyles that are sustainable.

The reference personal carbon budget could be a useful measure in this context but to be useful it must be quantified.

I'm hoping for further estimates, which avoid the McPh***** route of none left give up.



Neven, I suspect my footprint is worse than yours (perhaps not by much if I discount my share of UK government activities) but although this is relevant, the urgent task is to discover pleasant ways of living that do not cause climate chaos. The hope is that the less "developed" world might be persuaded to adopt similar and avoid doing the damage we have done.
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bluice

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Re: A reference personal carbon budget
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2019, 11:35:20 AM »
I wonder if talking about 1.5C target is actually counterproductive. People and the media tend to consider 1.5 to 2 C warming as given for this century and don't grasp the direness of the situation.

Looking at the numbers it is evident that the best case scenario would mean perhaps 3 degrees of warming while a current trajectory takes us to civilization destroying figures. Obviously there are many uncertainties the further into future we project but they may act in both directions.

gerontocrat

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Re: A reference personal carbon budget
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2019, 11:57:54 AM »
Things have changed so much. Not that many years ago we still talked about a target of 350 ppm - (Bill McKibben - 350.org).

To get atmospheric CO2 down to 350 ppm (from about 415 ppm) would mean getting about 500 gigatonnes of CO2 out of the atmosphere (if my arithmetic is correct). So if one accepts 350 ppm as a limit for a "normalised" atmosphere one is talking about negative carbon budgets.

All work done to reduce CO2 emissions is therefore a mitigation /damage limitation exercise, which makes it more urgent, not less. But maybe the way to pressurise the powers that presume to govern us to get on with it is to present them (and us) with an achievable but urgent target.

But who wants to bet against that by the mid-late 2020's the IPCC strategy is based on an urgent need and time-frame to limit warming to 2 degrees - 1.5 degrees merely a receding memory alongside 350ppm..
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GeoffBeacon

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Re: A reference personal carbon budget
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2019, 03:42:41 PM »
  360 gigatonnes / 7.7 billion = 46.75 tonnes remain for each person on earth.  At the global average of 5.25 tonnes per annum, that's a shade under 9 years before the world population would need be carbon neutral.

Thanks. Adding 30% to your CO2 figure gives a reference personal carbon budget of 60 tonnes CO2e.

bluice
Quote
I wonder if talking about 1.5C target is actually counterproductive.

Agreed. Perhaps I should not have mentioned 1.5C but I wanted to show what influenced my estimate. GMST is only one of the influences on my judgement - and it can be a misleading measure.
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sark

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Re: A reference personal carbon budget
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2019, 08:54:04 AM »
I'm skeptical of the whole concept because I've lived in that carbon budget.  It's unwelcome in society.  Any hail mary ideas

https://www.aalto.fi/en/department-of-design/15-degrees-lifestyles
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GeoffBeacon

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Re: A reference personal carbon budget
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2019, 12:41:12 PM »
I'm skeptical of the whole concept because I've lived in that carbon budget.  It's unwelcome in society.  Any hail mary ideas

https://www.aalto.fi/en/department-of-design/15-degrees-lifestyles

Any idea how I can make a sensible comment on the York Local Plan, which is promoting planet threatening lifestyles?

I'd like to say the York Plan is encouraging citizens to emit too much CO2 (&etc) but without a meaning for "too much" I'm stumped.
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GeoffBeacon

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Re: A reference personal carbon budget
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2019, 02:22:41 PM »
In this thread I am asking for what might be called science-informed moral judgement. I suppose, it's obvious I'm struggling to express it in the best way. I think I did better than above in a recent email:

Quote
A representative remaining carbon budget ...

Different judgements can be made of what quantity  is a reasonable
total GHG emissions budget for people living now. A personal judgement
will depend on things like:

1) What  you think the consequences are
2) How Earth saving technology will develop
3) How much you care about the future
4) Whether mitigation is a lost cause.

Notes ...

(1) is often described in terms of global mean  surface temperature but
this is just an imperfect proxy for horrid things happening
(2) depends on things like the confidence in things like BECCS
(3) is personal morality
(4) is how much you believe Guy McPherson.

Not precisely determined ...

Clearly a representative remaining carbon budget is not something
that can be precisely determined: It is a mixture of science, morality
and personal judgement.

Despite these difficulties, I believe that a quantified figure would be
very helpful for planning - even if the quantity was simply an average
of "expert" opinions.

My judgement is 64 tonnes CO2e.

I'd still like to hear more.
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nanning

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Re: A reference personal carbon budget
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2019, 08:25:55 PM »
@GeoffBeacon
Quote
science-informed moral judgement.
I think that text should read "('civilisation's) academic-science informed moral judgment". e.g. Amazon indians have a different opinion, as have I, about your morality (your=the people from 'civilisation').

Concerning morals, I wonder what the >0BC Jezus-from-Nazareth would think of your 'carbon budget' with ppm already at 415, +135ppm, plus the accelerating mass extinction of all other lifeforms (because of accelarating climate change) etc.? I wish you all a lot of strong real high morality principles to adhere to. Don't live your life through the eyes and minds of others (don't yearn to belong); steer your own ship.

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Re: A reference personal carbon budget
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2019, 09:06:51 PM »
nanning, if you have a specific counter proposal, please present it clearly.

Sniping at word choices is not particularly helpful.

Thanks
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nanning

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Re: A reference personal carbon budget
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2019, 04:12:15 AM »
Sorry wili, nothing specific because I think it is impossible (a carbon budget and a future). 'We' will not stay <+2C.

Maybe I want to let you see that the set of options of what-to-do is much larger than what rich (western) civilisation thinks is feasible.

I'd like people to go for the high morality options. Personal responsibility and strong principles and all that. Current morality is against all other life, including other (poor or indigenous) humans. The unworthy, heedlessly trampled.

Maybe expose the insanity of what everyone calls normal or acceptable.
The leaving of Lurk and now Tim because of frustrations has made me a bit angry? now-and-then I guess.

Be angry at rich people. They are the main perpetraitors throughout history. They wrote your history. They killed your future.

edit: added "carbon budget" and rich people.
@GeoffBeacon It wasn't personal. Just the way people forget all other human tribes and other life on Earth.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2019, 04:51:26 AM by nanning »