Rhein on Energy and Climate

According to data released by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2010 has been -jointly with 2005- the warmest year on earth since the middle of the 19th century, when reliable meteorological measurements first started.

In 2010,the global surface temperature was 0.6° above the average temperature of 14.5° during the 20th century, a big change for such a short time.

2010 also ends the warmest decade of recorded history and the highest level of C02 concentration in the atmosphere ever registered.

This piece of news was of no interest for the media. It was not reported in TV news or big-circulation newspapers. Indeed, 99. 9 percent of humanity have much more pressing concerns than registering an increase of global temperatures that only extremely fine instruments are able to measure ; and for those very few following climate issues it was really no surprise but only a confirmation of their expectations.

Global temperatures will continue to rise sharply as long as C02 emissions keep rising at breath-taking rates. We have to brace for such a development, at least during the next 10 years. Indeed, due to the economic growth engines in Asia, in particular China and India,the global economic output is expected to grow by more than 4 percent per year; and however hard Asian countries will try, the C02 intensity of their economic products will only fall very slowly.

It therefore needs a lot of optimism to still believe that global C02 emissions will stabilise by 2020. To achieve that, humanity will have to radically change its life style and cease the race for producing and consuming ever more goods. Not even the EU, which is proud of its climate-policy record, is likely to raise its energy efficiency by a modest 20 percent until 2020, the target it had fixed in 2008. How then can we expect countries that have not even started taking serious climate-relevant action to dramatically slow down, let alone reduce their C02 output!

Brussels 14. 01. 11 Eberhard Rhein

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