Understanding Climate Risk

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Archive for January 6th, 2012

75 Gigatonnes and counting

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Late last year Andrew Revkin of the New York Times blog DotEarth got in touch with a few people to ask their view of Australia’s carbon legislation. He followed up with a question asking whether the legislation was any good if Australia’s large coal exports weren’t included. Can the  US and Australia slake China’s coal thirst and still claim CO2 progress? He got views both pro and con. I ended up writing a post that was glass half  empty – glass half full.

One of the most vocal critics of the domestic policy was Guy Pearse, author of Quarry Vision and High and Dry, an essay and book about the relationship between Australia’s mining industry, politics, and climate policy. I was interested in how much CO2 Australia was likely to export, but had come up high and dry. So I asked Guy what the numbers were. Coincidently he was putting together estimates for current and future projects for a talk at the Woodford Folk Festival, so I offered to have a look at the temperature and CO2 budget effects. Guy’s estimate is that Australia will export about 75 Gigatonnes CO2 conservatively between now and 2050.  That’s 10% of the total budget estimated by the German agency WBGU (pdf) that can be emitted from 2008 to give a 2 in 3 chance of avoiding 2°C.

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Written by Roger Jones

January 6, 2012 at 1:12 am