New paper questions Paris Agreement’s dubious temperature limits

Posted: December 14, 2017 by oldbrew in climate, Critique, History, Natural Variation, Temperature
Tags: ,

Earth and climate – an ongoing controversy

It turns out that the temperature target of the agreement was never properly defined.

New study puts the 1.5°C and 2.0°C temperature limits of the Paris Agreement into a historical climate context, says The GWPF.

The Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015 during the COP21 climate conference stipulates that the increase in the global average temperature is to be kept well below 2°C above “pre-industrial levels” and that efforts are pursued to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above “pre-industrial levels.”

Closer inspection of the treaty text, however, reveals that the term “pre-industrial levels” is nowhere defined in this epochal UN-document, that has meanwhile been ratified by 170 Parties.

This is particularly odd because the “pre-industrial” temperatures of the past 10,000 years have varied quite significantly, as meticuloulsy documented by hundreds of paleoclimate studies.

Puzzled by this apparent gap in the Agreement, Fritz Vahrenholt went out and researched the history of the temperature limit definition.

The former renewable energy manager and current head of the German Wildlife Foundation was surprised to find that the initial description of this important climate goal dates back to the mid 1970s, proposed by an economist, by the name of William Nordhaus.

Nordhaus’ idea was as simple as effective: He looked at the maximum temperatures recorded during the past several hundred thousand years and warned that this natural range should not be exceeded in the future. Two decades later, in 1995, the German Advisory Council for Global Change further refined this concept, but kept Nordhaus’ original idea of a tolerable ‘temperature window’.

Vahrenholt: “Unfortunately this important palaeoclimatological perspective was lost in subsequent key papers on the subject that paved the way to the Paris Agreement. Reports by the World Bank and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2014 and 2015 narrowed their view to the last 200 years which does not do justice to the enormous natural temperature fluctuations on a multi-millennial perspective.”

In order to better understand the complex pre-industrial temperature history of the past, Vahrenholt teamed up with Sebastian Lüning, a professional resources geologist who in his spare time works on paleoclimatological studies with the Switzerland-based Institute for Hydrography, Geoecology and Climate Sciences.

Lüning researched the literature and integrated the Paris Agreement 2.0°C and 1.5°C temperature limits into the climate development of the past 2000, 10,000 and 120,000 years.

Lüning: “Comparing the modern warming to reference levels at the end of the Little Ice Age about 150 years ago does not really make much sense because this period represents one of the coldest times of the past 10,000 years. The choice of a baseline near the lower extreme of a variable parameter is uncommon in science. The temperature level that was reached during the interval 1940-1970 may serve as a better reference level because it appears to roughly correspond to the average pre-industrial temperature of the past two millennia.”

On an even longer time scale, it is found that current temperatures have not yet even exceeded the warmest temperatures of a natural warm phase that globally occurred some 7000 years ago, the so-called ‘Holocene Thermal Maximum’.

Continued here.

  1. Eric Johnson says:

    What other pearls of wisdom lurk in the Paris “Treaty”?
    Lüning: “Comparing the modern warming to reference levels at the end of the Little Ice Age about 150 years ago does not really make much sense because this period represents one of the coldest times of the past 10,000 years. The choice of a baseline near the lower extreme of a variable parameter is uncommon in science.”
    “… uncommon in science.” Where is there really, ANY science, in anything promulgated by alarmists?

  2. oldbrew says:

    “The choice of a baseline near the lower extreme of a variable parameter is uncommon in science.” – study

    Or if it’s Arctic sea ice, pick the last (of many) peaks as the starting point, then gasp at the predictable downward trend that follows.

  3. scute1133 says:

    @Eric Johnson:

    “What other pearls of wisdom lurk in the Paris “Treaty”?

    How about Article 4 paragraph 19 for a start? It’s the last paragraph in Article 4. The preceding 18 paragraphs concern themselves with the Natiionally Determined Contributions (NDC’s) that are the genuine emission-cut commitments agreed to at Paris. Then this short paragraph pops up at the end politely inviting countries to submit long term strategies out to 2050, which really means 2100 and beyond because whatever eye-watering cuts are achieved by 2050 are naturally assumed to stay in place forever. Then they say it would be ever so nice of these long-term strategies could be submitted by 2020- clearly nothing to do with the NDC’s, pie in the sky projected scenarios that will require unstinting public support, as well as “extraordinary political agreement and unforeseen breakthroughs in technology” (MIT Global Change Report October 2016).

    But this innocent request tacked onto 18 paragraphs about NDC’s was a Trojan horse. Once submitted, these hoped-for scenarios were added to the solidly agreed NDC’s and called “pledges”. When you see the stated temperature rise when the Paris Agreement emission cuts are factored in and they say “2.8°C” or “about 3 degrees” or “3.2°C”, all these figures include the 2050 strategies that weren’t officially agreed at Paris, are pure fantasy and require a crystal ball to ascertain whether they’ll ever see the light of day. The true figure is between 3.5°C (Climate Interactive) and 3.7°C (MIT).

    So the countries who submitted long-term strategies in good faith in the knowledge they needed a heck of a lot of work to push through, saw the think tanks take them and treat them as solid pledges. Climate Action Tracker is a third perpetrator. Until recently it said on its home page that the “pledges” made at Paris would furnish a 2.8°C rise, fully 0.7°C to 0.9°C lower than the actual figure for the NDC’s. They recently changed it to 3.2°C and were perfectly happy to say (to me on Twitter) that the huge 0.4°C hike was due to the US quitting the Paris Agreement and that this included the US long-term strategies that won’t now be implemented. That proves they were included them all along. The fact they said this in reply to my complaining re their inclusion speaks volumes. They didn’t even realise they’d let it slip, such is their sense of entitlement to do this with impunity. The practice is rife across all the think tanks and universities as well as the CAGW Twitterati and politicians. It’s scientific fraud.

  4. scute1133 says:

    Apologies for typos and lack of paragraph spacing. I typed it straight into the comment box which is harder to proofread. I always regret it when I do that.

    [reply] looks readable enough 🙂

  5. oldbrew says:

    Climate predictions based on trace gases in models are very dubious, but this gives a flavour of the supposed problem and why the proposed ‘solutions’ won’t work.

  6. tom0mason says:

    The sting in the tail is that the UN elitists want all the Western nation signed-up, ratified, and paying the $100 billion or so that they say the West should pay by 2020.
    Good date that 2020, just as we change over from solar cycle 24 to 25, and probably the beginning of some very cold weather to come.

    So how stable will European electricity supplies be by then? I wonder how full the grain stores will be, and which nations will control our imported fuels?

  7. ferdberple says:

    for a lot of the world “preindustrial” means “today”.

  8. dennisambler says:

    The Nordhaus 2 degree link was covered a while back at Cliscep:

  9. oldbrew says:

    1.5C – 2C more than the Little Ice Age sounds pretty good 🙂
    – – –
    For anyone who thinks wind turbines are a ‘solution’ to anything…

    Break down the terms on which wind power is “supplied”, and the “deal” reduces to this:

    we (“the wind power generator”) will supply and you (“the hopeful punter at the end of the line”) will take every single watt we produce, whenever that might be;

    except that this will occur less than 30% of the time;

    and, no, we can’t tell you when that might be – although it will probably be in the middle of the night when you don’t need it;

    around 70% of the time – when the wind stops blowing altogether – we won’t be supplying anything at all;

    in which event, it’s a case of “tough luck” sucker, you’re on your own, but you can try your luck with dreaded coal or gas-fired generators, they’re burning mountains of coal and gas anyway to cover our little daily output “hiccups” – so they’ll probably help you keep your home and business running; and

    the price for the pleasure of our chaotic, unpredictable power “supply” will be fixed for 25 years at 4 times the price charged by those “evil” fossil fuel generators.
    – – –
    It’s little wonder that – in the absence of fines and penalties that force retailers to sign up to take wind power (see our post here) and/or massive subsidies (see our post here) – no retailer would ever bother to purchase wind power on the standard “irresistible” terms above.

  10. scute1133 says:

    @ Oldbrew

    I have as little faith in the models as you do. However, my point is that having alighted on a particular modelled output temperature for the Paris NDC’s they then lie about about it by exaggerating. And they do that by conflating the NDC’s with deepened emission cuts post 2030. So it’s about brazen dishonesty, not the accuracy of the models which is a separate and very troubling issue.

    And unfortunately, Lomborg is just as guilty as Climate Interactive, Climate Action Tracker and MIT because he exaggerates the modelled outputs in the opposite direction. I follow him and I replied to that tweet you linked with the following:

    No reply yet, surprise surprise.

  11. oldbrew says:

    All these numbers assuming a direct and infallible link between CO2 and global temperatures are worthless IMO – in which case so are any arguments using them.