Earlier this week, BP published its 2015 Energy Outlook which shows fossil-fuel CO2 emissions growing by 25% by 2035. What do BP’s emission figures imply for the climate change impacts that we would be committed to, if they were to come about?
Suppose we were able to wave a magic wand and make all CO2 emissions worldwide drop to zero after 2035. It would still be more likely than not (a 53% chance) that the global mean temperature would rise by more than 2 degree C in 2100, just from the greenhouse gas emissions poured into the atmosphere before 2035. The mean damage done by climate change would be about $80 trillion, the vast majority in poor countries.
If our magic wand were not quite so effective and we only managed to stabilise our CO2 emissions at their 2035 level, rather than reduce them to zero, it is almost certain (a 99% chance) that the global mean temperature would rise by more than 2 degree C in 2100. The mean damage done by climate change would be about $370 trillion.
Of course, the most scary part is that the emissions in the BP outlook show no signs of stabilising in 2035, let alone dropping. No wonder commentators such as Carbon Brief have noted that even BP says the world is still failing to do enough to tackle climate change. BP’s chief executive says on page 5 of the outlook: ‘This underpins the importance of policy-makers taking steps that lead to a global price for carbon, which provides the right incentives for everyone to play their part’.
Amen to that.
(All calculations made with the default PAGE09 model, using non-fossil CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions from the IPCC’s A1B business as usual scenario, and fossil fuel CO2 emissions to 2035 from page 84 of BP’s Energy Outlook.)