The Grim Climate Change Arithmetic

Der Spiegel, a widely-read German publication, lays out the bad news this week with “How China and India Sabotaged the UN Climate Summit.”  I’m not sure I agree with laying the blame at the feet of the developing world (I thought it was doomed form the get-go).   Even so, the article quotes Chancellor Merkel, in a lucid moment, who puts things in perspective:

“Let us suppose 100 percent reduction, that is, no CO2 in the developed countries anymore. Even then, with the (target of) two degrees, you have to reduce carbon emissions in the developing countries. That is the truth.”

We talked about climate arithmetic a bit in class this morning in Econ 280. It’s very difficult to imagine a scenario where the US reduces its CO2 emissions enough even to stabilize “our share” of atmospheric concentrations.  That is, reducing carbon emissions on the order of 50-80% of current levels.   Of course, to stabilize global concentrations, the entire world would have to fall in line with such a strategy, and Der Speigel piece points out that this isn’t going to happen.

In other news…