The new Statistical Review of World Energy is out. This report was previously published by BP. However, as of this year, it is now issued by the Energy Institute. The latest report includes data for 2022.
Link below where you can download the pdf.
There is quite a bit of information in the complete report. Below is a summary of the Primary Energy consumed in three of the major world regions, plus the world total. The Asia-Pacific region includes India, China, Japan, Australia, etc. Europe includes all of the continent, not just the EU. The energy units are in Exajoules, in some cases adjusted on an input equivalent basis. The data comes from page 9 of the document for Primary energy consumption.
2022 Primary Energy
North Asia Total
America Europe Pacific World
Oil 44.53 28.72 69.61 190.69
Nat. Gas 39.58 17.96 32.65 141.89
Coal 10.51 10.07 130.50 161.47
Nuclear 8.19 6.68 6.65 24.13
Hydro 6.50 5.32 17.94 40.68
Renewables 9.46 11.06 20.24 45.18
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 118.78 79.81 277.60 604.04
Fossil fuels comprise 82% of total world primary energy consumption.
CO2 emissions from energy (2022)
million metric tonnes
North Asia Total
America Europe Pacific World
5851 3770 17,955 34,374
According to the report, world CO2 emissions from energy set another all-time high in 2022.
Looking at the overall trends for the fossil fuels, total world consumption of coal in 2022 was at an all-time high. Consumption of oil products and natural gas were not quite at all-time highs in 2022. The renewables share continues to increase, but not enough to affect the increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration.
Renewables, hydro and nuclear
• Renewable power (excluding hydro) rose 14% in 2022 to reach 40.9 EJ. This was slightly below the previous year’s growth rate of 16%.
• Solar and wind capacity continued to grow rapidly in 2022 recording a record increase of 266 GW. Solar accounted for 72% (192 GW) of the capacity additions.
• The largest portion of solar and wind growth was in China accounting for about 37% and 41% of global capacity additions respectively.
• Hydroelectricity generation increased by 1.1% in 2022
• Nuclear generation fell by 4.4% in 2022.
If I understand your question, and if I correctly understand the concept of radiative forcing, a decrease in radiative forcing is never going to happen. At least, it won’t happen as long as fossil fuels continue to be the main source of primary energy used in the industrial world.
Even though slightly less CO2(eq) was emitted for one year (the worst year of the COVID economic upheaval), the global average CO2 air concentration still increased. The CO2 concentration was higher on Dec 31, 2020 than it was on Dec 31, 2019. The concentration goes up every year, by around 2 to 3 ppm, even though there is a temporary yearly decline due to growing vegetation in the northern hemisphere. Since the CO2 concentration is always increasing year on year, the radiative forcing always grows larger.
Unless we can develop some technology to suck CO2 out of the air on a very large scale, and if we can greatly reduce the burning of fossil fuels for energy, the greenhouse effect is just going to grow and grow. We can have a discussion about how fast the climate is changing, or how long we have to do something about it, but right now CO2 will continue to accumulate in the atmosphere.
The city of Austin TX did projections of how conditions would be if CO2 levels continue to increase through the century (High scenario), or is declining (Low scenario). Under the High scenario, Austin would have mean summer highs of 104F. That is about the current average summer temperature for Phoenix. However, Austin is much more humid than Phoenix (70% vs 16%).
The wet bulb temperature for 104F at 70% humidity is about 95F. For those who don’t know, the wet bulb temperature identifies the lowest temp that can be reached by sweating under the given conditions. That 95F is uncomfortably close to the human body norm of 98.6F. This means a temperature of 104F at 70% humidity is virtually uninhabitable without artificial assistance. Wonder what that will do to the Texas economy?
Note that even at the lower scenario of 98.6F the wet bulb temp at 70% humidity is 90F. In fact, the near-term temp of 97F leads to a wet bulb of 88F, which is considered within the danger zone. It appears that most daytime summer activities in the more humid parts of Texas will soon have to be indoors.
Looking at their Figure 1, the low emissions scenario (RCP4.5) projects smaller increases in global emissions, but they are still positive. So, as Pete pointed out, GHG forcing will still grow (unless there are other factors at work).
Some long-term projections can be found in the work by Meinshausen et al. Their Figure 7 shows forcing peaking between 2200 and 2250 because of the long residence time in the atmosphere of carbon dioxide.
I suspect some kind of removal technology would be needed to shorten that.
Easier said than done. From estimates I’ve seen about 10billion tons of CO2 would have to be removed from the atmosphere annually to keep places like Austin TX habitable. Currently, the lowest price for CO2 removal has reached about $100/ton. If my math is correct then with current tech that would be about $1T/year every year until the world can get to zero carbon.
Don’t know who will pay for that since taking CO2 from the air and burying it is not going to make anyone a profit.
Hate to be a pessimist but I think there are a lot of current red states in the south and midwest that will be barely habitable during the summer by mid-century.
Seriously. You shouldn’t worry about that scenario. The “High scenario” under that 2014 paper you cite was based on RCP 8.5. But we’ve made tons of progress in restraining the rate of growth of carbon emissions. Not enough to stay under 1.5 degrees - but enough to make RCP 8.5 virtually impossible.
The upshot of all of this is that future industrial development is on track to be cleaner than past industrial development, even without any new policy changes or technological breakthroughs. Is it on track to stabilize global emissions and limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius? It is not. But we can pretty confidently say that scenarios that just project the past upward emissions curve forward are very unlikely. For that to happen, we’d need a huge resurgence of the coal industry and for every single auto company in the world to be somehow wrong about electric cars.
And that’s what this is - a warning about an almost impossibly unlikely worst-case scenario, rather than a prediction of what an expected scenario is for Austin by the end of the century. That’s not to say that Austin in 2100 will be as pleasant or comfortable as it is today - but it’s ridiculously unlikely to have an average summer high of 104 degrees.
On the subject of climate change, the UN recently announced that El Niño conditions have returned in the eastern Pacific ocean. This is the warm water phenomenon that is thought to be associated with extreme weather events.
And you get all this from a blog? There are some reasons not to so quickly discount the rcp 8.5 scenario. This is from a popular 2020 PNAS study:
Climate simulation-based scenarios are routinely used to characterize a range of plausible climate futures. Despite some recent progress on bending the emissions curve, RCP8.5, the most aggressive scenario in assumed fossil fuel use for global climate models, will continue to serve as a useful tool for quantifying physical climate risk, especially over near- to midterm policy-relevant time horizons. Not only are the emissions consistent with RCP8.5 in close agreement with historical total cumulative CO2 emissions (within 1%), but RCP8.5 is also the best match out to midcentury under current and stated policies with still highly plausible levels of CO2 emissions in 2100. https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2007117117
In any case, I agree that RCP 8.5 represents a worst-case scenario. But even the more optimistic scenario still projects Austin’s average summer highs would be in the Wet-bulb danger zone by Mid-century.
Finally, one should remember that the 2.5C scenario estimates what the temperature rise will be in 2100. If we are still not at carbon zero, temperatures will continue to rise after that date. Extrapolations of CO2 levels based on current policies do not get us to carbon zero by the end of the century. So unless mitigation is accelerated, there will be continued temperature increases post-2100. Based on the current situation, which your blog is so optimistic about, Austin will still reach average summer highs of 104 eventually.
I found the connection between wet bulb temperature and overheating due to inability to lose heat energy through sweating, to be useful.
From @btresist post:
<The wet bulb temperature for 104F at 70% humidity is about 95F. For those who don’t know, the wet bulb temperature identifies the lowest temp that can be reached by sweating under the given conditions. That 95F is uncomfortably close to the human body norm of 98.6F. This means a temperature of 104F at 70% humidity is virtually uninhabitable without artificial assistance. >
This helps me to better empathy for folks at risk of severe health issues due to excess heat. Cause it explains the “why” with science.
ralph already knew this, but occasionally needs a reminder…
To be less judgemental.
No. From the research cited in that blog. We’ve made significant, non-trivial changes in reducing the rate of carbon emissions growth - to the point where current emissions trends are far below the RCP 8.5 scenario. While it is theoretically possible that we might just stop having any electric cars at all (to use one example), that’s so unlikely as to be practically impossible at this point.
Austin will definitely get less comfortable. But not uninhabitable, absent a complete reversal of all our progress. The actual temperature rise will be a few degrees (Fahrenheit) lower than the temperatures in that table - and actual relative humidity in Austin is lower than you suggest, lowest in August (when the temps are highest), and lower in the afternoon than morning. So while there will obviously be dangerous days and times in Austin - and more than exist today - I think it’s an overstatement to anticipate the area actually becoming uninhabitable within the century.
Emissions – the ‘business as usual’ story is misleading
Hausfather and Peters https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00177-3
Stop using the worst-case scenario for climate warming as the most likely outcome — more-realistic baselines make for better policy.
RCP8.5 is a problematic scenario for near-term emissions https://www.pnas.org/doi/pdf/10.1073/pnas.2017124117
Future emissions in both the RCPs and SSPs are dominated by fossil CO2 in baseline scenarios, and we have strong evidence that both near-term and long- term fossil CO2 emissions are overestimated in emis- sions scenarios associated with 8.5 W/m2 forcing pathways.
Sure - though I need to clarify what I meant. We’ve made significant, non-trivial changes reducing the rate of carbon emissions growth from the RCP 8.5 projection, which assumed…nothing. No electric cars, no shift to renewable energy. It actually assumed a 500% increase in coal use, which is now unlikely to the point of absurdity. You need only look to the analyses at the top of this thread to see that that’s not happening.
There’s tons of data showing that we’ve made non-trivial changes in reducing the rate of carbon emissions growth below that RCP 8.5 scenario. In 2014 (when your Austin paper was published), global EV market share was basically zero. RCP 8.5 assumed that would continue - we would use nothing but ICE’s, and lots and lots more of them. That didn’t happen - in 2022, EV’s comprised about 14% of global new vehicle sales. The costs of solar power and lithium power batteries have plummeted far faster than any of those early 2010’s predictions. Wind power has also been adopted faster.
It will take some time for those trends to show up in actual carbon emissions. But it’s now pretty absurd to model future emissions assuming 2010-era levels of EV adoption, lithium battery and solar panel costs, and the like would continue out to 2100. That’s just not what’s happened.
The good news on climate change has been happening very quickly - which is why if you are citing papers from even a few years back (much less nearly a decade) they’re going to be overly pessimistic. Even the climate pessimists are taking notice:
The Stanford scientist Marshall Burke, who has produced some distressing research about the costs of warming — that global G.D.P. could be cut by as much as a quarter, compared with a world without climate change — says he has had to update the slides he uses to teach undergraduates, revising his expectations from just a few years ago. “The problem is a result of human choices, and our progress on it is also the result of human choices,” he says. “And those should be celebrated. It’s not yet sufficient. But it is amazing.”
That nicely describes where it is we disagree. Let me first say that I agree with most everything in your post. Where we disagree is that you think this is solely about the likelihood of the RCP 8.5 scenario, while I believe this is about whether there is a significant possibility that CO2 levels will eventually rise to the point where Austin TX becomes uninhabitable. The two overlap, but are not the same.
RCP 8.5 is just one of many scenarios that could lead to catastrophic climate change. All that good news about climate you mentioned may not be sufficient if Brazil continues burning the Amazon forest, if when push comes to shove India, Africa, and Asia are unwilling to sacrifice growth to go carbon neutral, if the global economy is twice that projected by RCP 8.5, if long conjectured positive feedback loops turn out to be real, etc, etc.
The future is obviously uncertain, and gets increasingly more so the farther ahead one tries to project. What we know for certain is the past. The RCP 8.5 projection was introduced in 2014. Almost 10 years later we are seeing CO2 emissions and atmospheric levels matching those worst case projections.
The time to discount the worst case scenario for Austin TX is when the rates of carbon emissions and rising CO2 atmospheric levels start to flatten from the worst case projection. Any time before is prematurely optimistic and not empirically justified.
But nothing else is matching those worst case projections. All the stuff about the Amazon and India, Africa, and Asia not doing anything about climate change was part of the RCP 8.5 model - and we’re not seeing them completely ignore climate change. Sure, they’re not doing what we would need to stay below 1.5 C - but they’re doing enough for us to end up between 2-3 C, and not 6 C.
The economy isn’t growing 2x faster than the RCP 8.5 projections. We don’t live in a world where electric cars don’t exist, where China’s car fleet is going to be 100% ICE. We don’t live in a world where solar panels and lithium batteries are still really expensive. It’s silly to pretend that those changes haven’t happened, or that it’s at all plausible that they will reverse themselves.
Looking at historic CO2 emissions doesn’t give you much information about RCP 8.5, because all of the forward-looking RCP projections (save for 2.6) had pretty much the same level of CO2 output through the present day:
…so the fact that we’re within a percentage point or two of RCP 8.5 doesn’t tell us whether we’re on RCP 8.5 or RCP 4.5 or 6.0. But everything else does. Huge swatches of what RCP 8.5 assumed haven’t come true. We now know that CO2 emissions policy is much closer to RCP 4.5 and 6.0 than to RCP 8.5. We were able to make a lot of changes in the last decade. We did develop widely-adopted electric cars and drive down the price of solar panels. We did avoid the worst-case scenario.
Which makes sense, because although RCP 8.5 was labelled “business as usual” in the layman’s press, it never really was. It was always one of the outlier models, that assumed that we eschewed every effort towards decarbonizing, and indeed started deliberately increasing fossil fuel production. Which wasn’t really where we were even in 2010, and it’s certainly not where we are now - when 35% of Chinese auto sales are EV’s and solar panel prices are a tenth of where they were a decade ago: