The World Bank on climate change

Do you know, I\’m reasonably sure that this isn\’t true:

This report spells out what the world would be like if it warmed by 4 degrees Celsius, which is what
scientists are nearly unanimously predicting by the end of the century, without serious policy changes.

For the world to warm that much one of two things would have to be true.

1) Climate sensitivity would have to be at the top end of the current estimated range. Say, a 4 oC rise from a doubling of CO2-e.

2) Emissions will have to be at the very top end of estimates. The extreme outliers in the various A1, A2 families etc.


At least, I think that\’s roughly the situation. One or other of those would need to be true. And I\’m absolutely certain that scientists are not nearly unanimously predicting one or the other. Because, you know, either of those are the extreme values of what scientists are predicting.

And even if it were true it\’s not also necessarily true that serious policy changes are necessary. We really only need a change in the relative prices of fossil and renewable energy for the entire problem to go away. If renewables were cheaper than fossil then we\’d all quite naturally gravitate to using them and the problem of fossil fuel derived emissions would be gone (or going).

Which leads to the question of whether serious policy changes are necessary to change those relative prices. Something which I\’m entirely certain isn\’t in fact necessary. Depends on the timescale you want to use.

For example, I think we could get unanimous agreement among technologists that within 50 years solar will be cheaper than oil, gas or coal. Without any policy changes at all: just that the technology will develop.

I think we\’d also get unanimous agreement that solar isn\’t (except for certain uses if you\’re well off the grid) cheaper right now.

It\’s possible that you\’d need to do something if you wanted to insist that it must be so next year, or in three years time. Although I have my doubts about what could actually be done other than a bit of R&D money.

So I\’m afraid that I\’m really not in agreement with the World Bank here.



7 thoughts on “The World Bank on climate change”

  1. Well, one possibility to resolve this confusion would be to read the report, rather than being lazy and just reading the summary. You want chapter 3, cunningly hidden under the title “21st Century Projections”.

    The answer is, they are looking at the probability ranges, and you can find 4 oC in there (e.g. “RCP6, one of the RCP mitigation scenarios that assumes only a limited degree of climate policy intervention, already projects warming exceeding 4°C by 2100 with a probability of more than 15 percent. “). How anyone can summarise that as “scientists are nearly unanimously predicting” is a mystery to me, though.

    The baseline is still IPCC “Assuming a “best guess” climate response, the warming response was projected at 2.3–4.5°C by 2100”, though that isn’t really an accurate summary of the IPCC position.

  2. “scientists are nearly unanimously predicting”: why do people write such shite? “Scientists” don’t do anything nearly unanimously, being a disparate bunch of people studying a wide variety of things.

  3. MakajazMonkee: “5.47 cents per kWh” I think that’s cheaper.

    Yeah, a bit cheaper, not that much though. Also depends on whether that has been adjusted for inflation etc. Disregarding any subsidies too – haven’t dug through the source to check for any there.

    5.47 cents works out around 3.5 pence (or 4.3 pence if I’ve adjusted correctly), wholesale electric is around 4.5-5.5 pence per kWh in the UK.

    That said, solar power towers are one of the more sensible renewables – they don’t need anything like as much pump storage as most other kinds.

    Sadly, they’re of pretty limited use here.

    “Depends on the timescale you want to use.”

    One that doesn’t involve the lights going out?

    “what could actually be done other than a bit of R&D money.”

    Reduce some of the planning burden – some of the technologies are pretty close pricewise without subsidy – if the whole 3-5 years and a couple of hundred grand was… put aside, then some of the large scale plants (like the tower mentioned above) might be somewhat more viable.

  4. You generally need to factor in the cost of storage / back up for night time and other times when the sun does not shine.

    If you are using to power aircon then maybe not, if you are using for any purpose that does not coincide with sunny periods then probably.

    It can get more complicated, even if you are using it for aircon and deman coincides nicely with sunny periods it only make sense if it displaces something valuable. If for instance we have a big fleet of nukes or windmills then the solar panels need to compete against the very low marginal cost of electricity from these sources.

    Generally speaking, solar is for cunts, though there may be some uses (off grid, aircon otherwise powered by FF etc). When batteries become much better then it might start not to be a cunts form of electricity, but until then keep is wet slit and hairy.

  5. “So I’m afraid that I’m really not in agreement with the World Bank here.”

    So that’s you, me, and about 7-billion others then.

    Apart from William M Connelley, down in the solar-powered rabbit hutch, that is.

  6. mmm so the summary is not reflective of the real report…i wonder where in the peer-reviewed (TM) lit, we have heard that before….lol

    Climate science(TM) is such a bust

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