Sunday, 7 April 2019

How Kyōtō needed to be done – elevated-emissions Enriched countries

In my previous post, I demonstrated the the Kyōtō Protocol of 1996 almost entirely targeted countries of limited significance, and whose ecology (Lovegrove, 2000) does not dictate low energy consumption. The Enriched World, where every “Annex 1” country bar Australia was located, constituted the ecological bloc least required to lower emissions for ecological parity (Koch, 2003, p. 147; Najam et. al, 2003). Thus, the countries set emissions targets were – with the paramount exception of Australia – the very countries with least requirement therefor.

Nonetheless, within the Enriched World a sub-bloc of nations with elevated per capita emissions did exist. This sub-bloc comprised three Anglophone Western Hemisphere nations in the United States, Canada and New Zealand, plus four countries in Northern Asia: Russia and the former Soviet republics or satellites of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Mongolia. The following facts confirm these nations as a distinct sub-bloc:
  1. excluding New Zealand, they occupy one continuous area centred upon the North Pacific
  2. all except New Zealand at least substantially occupy dry, highly continental steppe and/or taiga
  3. all except New Zealand are rich in mineral resources, although completely lacking greenhouse-intensive bauxite
  4. the Pacific Northwest and New Zealand occupy similarly mountainous maritime zones substantially too wet for agriculture
  5. none are high mountain states (as Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan are) because:
    • all have substantial contiguous lowland areas
    • most of North America’s and Mongolia’s highland is plateau-like rather than steep mountains
  6. their relatively high per capita emissions are due to:
    1. low population densities and absence of energy-efficient transport, though this issue is not so pronounced as in Australia or the Gulf States
    2. high heating requirements due to freezing winters
    3. generally abundant fossil fuel reserves (except for New Zealand and Mongolia)
If we combine these countries with China, which borders this region on its southwest flank, we create a continuous bloc of seven countries accounting for over forty percent of total global emissions.  On this ground, targeting this bloc for punitive emissions reductions (demonstrably necessary for Australia and Gulf oil states) would have appeared desirable.

However, the economic disadvantages of their cool climates, plus their low ecological fragility (Huston and Wolverton, 2009) and their void in bauxite deposits, mitigate against severe relative targets for even the worst Enriched polluters. Moreover, historical climate politics demonstrates the likelihood or the United States and Canada siding with Australia rather than lower-emissions Enriched nations (Flannery, 2007). New Zealand, Russia, and the former Soviet satellites behaved similarly. Consequently, I have made a 20% allowance above parity targets for all nations in the sub-bloc. Essential emissions cuts by Australia and the Gulf States would mandate large efficiency improvements elsewhere, which would have reduced this elevated-emissions Enriched sub-bloc’s emissions beyond the targets listed below.

Country 1990s per capita emissions
(Australia = 1)
Requisite Kyōtō emissions target
(relative to 1985-1995)
Actual Kyōtō emissions target Notes
United States 0.83 -35% ±0% — “Red” states substantially resource-rich mineral exporters
— Over one-quarter of global coal reserves, primarily in Appalachia and the Ozarks
— “Blue” states typically resource-poor Enriched World
15% allowance for political effects
Canada 0.73 -35% -6% — Allowances for political divides much less than in United States
New Zealand 0.67 -35% ±0% — Does possess certain ecological peculiarities due to chalcophile-poor rhyolitic geology
— High per capita emissions due to low population density caused by remoteness and extreme natural resource poverty
Turkmenistan 0.48 -28% — Intermediate in character between other elevated-emissions Enriched States and wealthy Arab oil exporters
Russia 0.51 -25% ±0% — Second largest coal reserves in world.
Kazakhstan 0.51 -18%
Mongolia 0.41 -18% — Exceedingly high emissions relative to GDP
China 0.11 ±0% — By 2010s accounted for over ¼ of global greenhouse gas emissions
— 2010s per capita emissions already above world average
— Highly abundant coal reserves (13 percent of global total)
— Target was to develop without increasing emissions
— Inability to do so potentially  result of lenience towards resource-exporting nations’ emissions
Suspicions that after-effects of the Kyōtō Protocol have been a major factor in the United States’ growing partisan political divide has led me to propose a substantial allowance for that nation. This allowance has the virtue of simplifying matters for the sub-bloc as a group.

I have tabulated China although it differs from the other nations of this sub-bloc in its dense population because:
  1. China’s very high total emissions make it important to global warming mitigation regardless of its per capita emissions, and
  2. China shares with the US, Canada, Russia and Kazakhstan abundant coal reserves which would reduce the after-effect of severe emissions cuts in the wealthy subtropical desert resource exporters
  3. China was similarly reluctant to commit to large emissions reductions proposed by the EU and AOSIS
Overall, these proposed direct reductions in the elevated-emissions sub-bloc would triple those from the much severer reductions ecologically demanded from the oil exporters and Australia (see previous post), totalling 14 percent of global emissions. Unlike the radical infrastructure projects that were ecologically essential in Australia and oil states, reductions in these nations would have merely required improvements in efficiency from nations that for the most part were already wealthy, such as improved fuel efficiency technology in American and Russian road vehicles and homes, and altered product cycles for consumer goods to deal with the reduced supply of metals from Australia.


  • Flannery, Tim (2005); The Weather Makers: The History and Future Impact of Climate Change; ISBN 1920885846
  • Huston, Michael A. and Wolverton, Steve; ‘The global distribution of net primary production: resolving the paradox’; Ecological Monographs, vol. 79, no. 3 (2009), pp. 343-377
  • Koch, Max (2003); Capitalism and Climate Change: Theoretical Discussion, Historical Development and Policy Responses; ISBN 978-1-349-32328-9
  • Lovegrove, Barry G.; ‘The Zoogeography of Mammalian Basal Metabolic Rate’; The American Naturalist, vol. 156, no. 2 (August 2000), pp. 201-218
  • Najam, Adil, Saleem-ul-Huq and Sokona, Youba; ‘Climate negotiations beyond Kyōtō: Developing countries’ concerns and interests’; Climate Policy 3(3) (September 2003), pp. 221-231

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