Lomborg Lucidity

Lots of guessing and worrying about climate change policy since Trump’s election.  As usual, Bjorn Lomborg sees through the fog of confusion, and points to the way forward.  His recent article is entitled Trump’s climate plan might not be so bad after all in the Washington Post (here).  Synopsis:

What really matters is not rhetoric but policy. So far, we know that President Trump will drop the Paris climate change treaty. This is far from the world-ending event that some suggest and offers an opportunity for a smarter approach.

Even ardent supporters acknowledge that the Paris treaty by itself will do little to rein in global warming. The United Nations estimates that if every country were to make every single promised carbon cut between 2016 and 2030 to the fullest extent and there was no cheating, carbon dioxide emissions would still only be cut by one-hundredth of what is needed to keep temperature rises below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius).

The Paris treaty’s 2016-2030 pledges would reduce temperature rises around 0.09 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. If maintained throughout the rest of the century, temperature rises would be cut by 0.31 degrees Fahrenheit.

At the same time, these promises will be costly. Trying to cut carbon dioxide, even with an efficient tax, makes cheap energy more expensive — and this slows economic growth. My calculations using the best peer-reviewed economic models show the cost of the Paris promises – through slower gross domestic product growth from higher energy costs — would reach $1 trillion to $2 trillion every year from 2030.

So Trump’s promise to dump Paris will matter very little to temperature rises, and it will stop the pursuit of an expensive dead end.

Statements by Trump’s campaign also indicate that the next administration will create a global development and aid policy that recognizes that climate is one problem among many.

Asked about global warming, the campaign responded, “Perhaps the best use of our limited financial resources should be in dealing with making sure that every person in the world has clean water. Perhaps we should focus on eliminating lingering diseases around the world like malaria. Perhaps we should focus on efforts to increase food production to keep pace with an ever-growing world population.”

This would be a big change. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development analyzed almost all aid from the United States and other rich nations and found that about one-fourth is climate-related aid.

This is immoral when 2 billion people suffer from malnutrition, 700 million live in extreme poverty and 2.4 billion are without clean drinking water and sanitation. These problems can be tackled effectively today, helping many more people more dramatically than “climate aid” could.


But, surprisingly, there is now an opportunity. To seize it, the Trump administration needs to go beyond just dumping the ineffective Paris agreement, to an innovation-based green energy approach that will harness U.S. ingenuity. Far from being a disaster, such a policy could mean a real solution to climate change and help the world’s worst-off more effectively.

In sub-Saharan Africa, two out of every three people are without access to electricity, and it is this energy poverty that is handicapping the region’s economic development

Bjorn Lomborg is president and founder of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and a visiting professor at Copenhagen Business School.


  1. Judy Cross · November 23, 2016

    Oh, no! Not a “real solution” for “climate change”. Bjorn, how could you? We’ve had that since man first utilized fire back in a cave somewhere!


  2. manicbeancounter · November 23, 2016

    If you compare Lomborg’s estimates of the impacts of all the vague policy proposals and those from the climate alarmists there is a substantial difference. Yet Lomborg makes the implausible assumption that the policy is fully implemented. The expected out-turn will be much less than the 0.2C fully-implemented policy consequence that Lomborg estimates, yet the economic impact could be larger on the basis that vague Government projects that are poorly managed usually deliver much less and cost much more than forecast.
    Lomborg does the purely logical approach. He takes the RCP8.5 business-as-usual projection used in UNIPCC AR5 ( particularly in the Synthesis Report SPM) and estimates the fully-implemented marginal impact of that policy. Using RCP figures is highly problematic, as global totals for each greenhouse gas are only split into five regions – OECD90, Reforming Economies (basically Ex-Warsaw Pact), Asia (excl OECD), MAF (Middle East + Africa) and LAM (Latin America). It is then left to others to split this down. The RCP8.5 may exaggerate emissions growth, with total GHG emissions in 2100 projected to be more than 2.5 times higher than in 2010.


  3. manicbeancounter · November 24, 2016

    The baseline RCP8.5 projection assumes a 4.5C warming by 2100. The most extreme claim about the impact of all the INDC policy proposals was made at the end of October 2015 (in anticipation of COP21 Paris in December) by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. From the BBC

    The INDCs have the capability of limiting the forecast temperature rise to around 2.7C by 2100, by no means enough but a lot lower than the estimated four, five, or more degrees of warming projected by many prior to the INDCs.

    That is policy would make 1.8C of difference, instead of 0.2C of difference that Lomborg estinated. How could that be?
    After all, the UNFCCC has produced a report that seemed to be in line with Lomborg. Policy would make very little difference. They produced a graphic that basically agreed with Lomborg. Fully implemented policy proposals would make very little difference.

    The entire 66 page UNFCCC Synthesis report on the aggregate effect of the intended nationally determined contributions made no mention of any projected 1.8C policy impact. It was only at the foot of a separate 12 page Technical Annex in a table that two other organisations got this policy difference. One of them, the International Energy Agency (IEA), assumed that post 2030 that global policy would be the mid-point of two RCP policy scenarios. The RCP website warns that the scenarios are not policy prescriptive, and should not be used as the basis of policy forecasts.
    The full story is here.


  4. manicbeancounter · November 24, 2016

    I know I am going on a bit, but comparing Lomborg’s estimates with those of the alarmists is something I spent some time upon, and is an area which can enhance understanding of forecasts and projections.
    Climate alarmist Joe Romm attacked Lomborg last year by using the forecasts of ClimateInteractive. They split up the RCP8.5 data into a number of countries of sub-regions. Their estimate was that the INDC submissions would see warming of just 3.5C, or a full 1C of difference in 2100 from the BAU scenario, with GHG emissions 40% lower. I spent some time looking at their projections for CO2 emissions – the vast majority of the GHG emissions. In summary

    For OECD countries where emissions per capita have been stable or falling for decades, the “No Action” scenario forecasts that they will rise for decades. For Russia and China, where per capita emissions are likely to peak before 2030 without any policy action, the “No Action” scenario forecasts that they will rise for decades. This is largely offset by Climate Interactive assuming that both emissions and economic growth in India and Africa (where there are no real attempts to control emissions) will stagnate in the coming decades. Just by making more reasonable CO2 emissions forecasts for the OECD, Russia and China can account for half of the claimed 2100 reduction in GHG emissions from the INDC. Climate Interactive’s “No Action” scenario is bogus.

    The graphic that illustrates my points is below.


    • Ron Clutz · November 24, 2016

      Manic, there may be a different calculation going on. As you know IPCC has claimed (cleverly) that the 2C target can be met by limiting CO2 concentration to 450 ppm. They further claim this can be achieved by cutting emissions by 80% from present levels. These are hocus pocus conjectures, but the true believers have swallowed it whole. Perhaps Lomborg is comparing the cuts pledged against the 80% claimed to be required.


  5. manicbeancounter · November 24, 2016

    If you assume that a doubling of CO2 produces 3C of warming then a rise of from 280 to 450ppm produces 2C. The RCP emissions scenarios are based upon this central estimate and includes all GHG gases . The next most potent GHG is CH4 which has risen by just over 1ppm and is 18 to 25 times more potent as a GHG than CO2. Further CO2 levels are rising by about 2ppm a year. All this is readily available but for pretty obvious reasons you will not find put together in one place.
    There is just an impenetrable fog and misdirection from those who have not thought through the issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Clutz · November 24, 2016

      Agree that the whole notion is a mess. At least you can ignore methane.

      Even if the IPCC radiative greenhouse theory were true, methane occurs only in minute quantities in air, 1.8ppm versus CO2 of 390ppm. By weight, CH4 is only 5.24Gt versus CO2 3140Gt (on this assumption). If it truly were twenty times more potent, it would amount to an equivalent of 105Gt CO2 or one thirtieth that of CO2. A doubling in methane would thus have no noticeable effect on world temperature.

      However, the factor of 20 is entirely misleading because absorption is proportional to the number of molecules (=volume), so the factor of 7 (7.3) is correct and 20 is wrong. With this in mind, the perceived threat from methane becomes even less.

      Further still, methane has been rising from 1.6ppm to 1.8ppm in 30 years (1980-2010), assuming that it has not stopped rising, this amounts to a doubling in 2-3 centuries. In other words, methane can never have any measurable effect on temperature, even if the IPCC radiative cooling theory were right.


      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hifast · November 25, 2016

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s