By Staffan Laestadius, Staffan Laestadius is professor emeritus in industrial development at KTH and senior advisor Global Challenge. He is also the author of the books Climate and Conversion (Borea Bokförlag, 2018) and the Climate and Welfare (Borea book publishing, 2013)
One should avoid drawing hasty conclusions from individual observations, derived from long-term processes. And one should be careful to compare data from different sources. They are not always about the same phenomenon. With this written, I still want to draw attention to how the climate crisis can be followed online like this at the beginning of the hot summer we can expect.
The CO2 level in the atmosphere reached the record level of 414.7 ppm in May, which is an all time high and corresponds to 411.3 ppm in seasonally adjusted data. Last year’s (2018) annual value was 408.5 ppm. 200 years ago, the CO2 content was 280 ppm. The atmospheric CO2 content is now increasing 2.6 times as fast as when the measurements began in 1959.
The global temperature in the atmosphere during April and May was the second highest ever recorded for these months. The last four annual temperatures are the highest ever measured. The temperature is now rising at a rate of 0.2 ° C / decade (since 1967) but the rate of increase over the last decade has been 0.4 ° C. North of the 65th parallel (Skellefteå), the global temperature increases twice as fast or more.
Both polar ice sheets are at the time of writing, and for the first time simultaneously, the smallest ones ever observed for the season.
And the Greenland ice sheet is not only the smallest ever. In addition, the early summer’s Arctic heat has resulted in a record-high proportion of Greenland’s ice-covered surface melting. The other day, Greenland was 20 ° C warmer than normal.
World consumption of fossil fuels increased by 2.4% in 2018. Both the use of oil and gas and coal increased. The fossil fuels increased a total of 5.5 times as much as the renewable ones. The latter, of course, increased rapidly but still account for only 4% of total energy consumption. EU use of fossil fuels decreased by 1.6%, but still accounts for 75% of total energy consumption. Renewable make up 4.7% of EU energy consumption. US use of fossil fuels increased by 3% in 2018, which was 7 times as much as the increase of renewable.
As a result, energy-related global CO2 emissions increased by 2% in 2018, which is twice as much as in the period 2007-2017. Emission statistics give slightly different values - eg. depending on what is included in it – but the increases for 2018 end up in all cases in the range 1.7 – 2.7%, which resulted in a new record level. Global CO2 emissions have never been as large as now – after nearly three decades of international climate negotiations. Most of the increase comes from countries outside the OECD area. The largest emission country is China, which emits more energy-related CO2 (9.4 Gt) than the US (5 Gt) and the EU (3.4 Gt) together.
Swedish greenhouse gas emissions – including international transport – increased preliminary by about 0.5% to 63.8 Mt CO2 equivalents. About 17% of these emissions come from our international transport and our international travel. The long-term decline of Swedish emissions until 2014/15 now appears to have been broken. However, BP’s statistics show that Sweden’s consumption of fossil fuels decreased slightly in 2018 (-3.3%), and thus also our energy-related CO2 emissions (-3.3%).
The only reasonable conclusion of this numeric exercise is that the situation is gloomy. There is, at global level, no evidence that the climate change policies have really started. The situation at EU level or Sweden level is not much better. We need to reduce emissions by at least 7% annually starting now and counting from the current level and in practice for all time. If we want the changeover to have a fair chance of happening, we need to remove emissions even faster.
We are not close to this.