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The American Power Act: A Climate Dud

“The global temperature “savings” of the Kerry-Lieberman bill is astoundingly small—0.043°C (0.077°F) by 2050 and 0.111°C (0.200°F) by 2100. In other words, by century’s end, reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 83% will only result in global temperatures being one-fifth of one degree Fahrenheit less than they would otherwise be. That is a scientifically meaningless reduction.”

Senators John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman have just unveiled their latest/greatest attempt to reign in U. S. greenhouse gas emissions. Their one time collaborator Lindsey Graham indicated that he did not consider the bill a climate bill because “[t]here is no bipartisan support for a cap-and-trade bill based on global warming.” But make no mistake. This is a climate bill at heart, and thus the Kerry-Lieberman bill sections labeled “Title II. Global Warming Pollution Reduction.”

So apparently someone thinks the bill will have an impact on global warming. But those someones are wrong. The bill will have no meaningful impact of the future course of global warming.

That is, unless the rest of the world—primarily the developing nations—decide to play along.

In fact, the United States and the rest of the developed countries have little role to play in the future course of global warming except as developers of new energy technologies and/or as guinea pigs of making do with less fossil fuels.

Our attempts at domestic emissions savings will have only minimal direct climate impact, but instead they will serve as an example for the developing world of what, or what not, to do. So if Kerry and Lieberman were interested in directly tackling the climate change issue, they would be working with China’s National People’s Congress to draft legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, not the U. S. Senate.

But, everyone already knows this, as we demonstrated the non-impact of U.S. emissions reduction efforts in Part I and Part II of our analysis of last summer’s Waxman-Markey offering. And as far as the global warming goes, Kerry-Lieberman’s The American Power Act of 2010 is similar to Waxman-Markey’s American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.

Kerry-Lieberman’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions reduction schedule is 17% below 2005 emissions levels by 2020, 42% below by 2030, and 83% below by 2050. Compare that to Waxman-Markey’s 20% reduction in emissions (below 2005 levels) by 2020, 42% by 2030, and 83% by 2050. Except for a bit of relaxation of near term targets, the bills’ long-term intentions are identical.

The impact of this slight emissions difference on the resulting future global temperature savings is not manifest until the third digit past the decimal point—in other words, thousandths of degrees C. Climatologically, in other words, the bills are identical.

As in our prior analyses, we use the same techniques employing a climate model simulator to derive global temperature (and sea level) projections from the greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. We use the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) “business-as-usual” scenario (A1B) as the baseline, and then modify it to take into account the Kerry-Lieberman emissions targets for the U.S.

Figure 1 compares the global temperature projections from the business-as-usual (BAU) scenario with the Kerry-Lieberman adjustments. The BAU scenario produces a temperature rise (over the 1990 global average temperature) of 1.584°C by the year 2050 and 2.959°C by 2100. The Kerry-Lieberman adjustments produce a temperature rise of 1.541°C by 2050 and 2.848°C by 2100.

KL_fig1
Figure 1. Projected global temperature rise from the IPCC’s business-as-usual (A1B) scenario (black curve) and the Kerry-Lieberman emissions scenario (red curve).

The global temperature “savings” of the Kerry-Lieberman bill is astoundingly small—0.043°C (0.077°F) by 2050 and 0.111°C (0.200°F) by 2100. In other words, by century’s end, reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 83% will only result in global temperatures being one-fifth of one degree Fahrenheit less than they would otherwise be. That is a scientifically meaningless reduction.

Figure 2 shows that the impacts on future sea level rise projections are equally insignificant. Instead of a projected sea level rise of 15.1cm by 2050, the Kerry-Lieberman bill produces a rise of 14.9cm. By 2100, the BAU projected rise is 37.1cm and the Kerry-Lieberman rise is 36.0cm. A century’s end sea level rise savings of 1.1cm, or 0.43 inches. Too small to be of consequence.

KL_fig2
Figure 2. Projected global sea level rise from the IPCC’s business-as-usual (A1B) scenario (black curve) and the Kerry-Lieberman emissions scenario (red curve).

As I mentioned previously, the real impact of the Kerry-Lieberman bill only emerges if it is applied to the rest of the world, and in particular the world’s developing nations.

Figure 3 shows the global temperature projections from the BAU scenario, along with the successive adherence to the Kerry-Lieberman emissions schedule by the U.S., the OECD90 countries (industrialized countries including the U.S., Western Europe, Australia and Japan), and the entire world. Basically, unless the developing world comes on board, the world’s future temperature pathway will be largely unchanged.

KL_fig3
Figure 3. Projected global temperature rise from the IPCC’s business-as-usual (A1B) scenario (black curve) and the Kerry-Lieberman emissions scenario as applied to the U.S. (red curve), the OECD90 countries (magenta curve), and the entire world (blue curve).

Granted, all my numbers may change a bit if different assumptions are made about the baseline scenario, the particulars of international cooperation, or the various parameters of the climate model simulator (for example, I used a climate sensitivity of 3.0°C). But the bottom line will remain the same—climatologically, the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act, in and of itself, is a meaningless bill. To make it effective, it must involve the world’s developing counties.

34 comments

1 Andrew { 05.12.10 at 3:46 pm }

But would it be worth it even if the whole world signed on? That’s the key, I think. How much “harm” do we avoid, and at what cost? I reckoned on the Waxman-Markey bill’s “avoided” warming that maybe three percent of damages from warming would be avoided-three percent of a supposed 1.5% of GDP, bringing the total to 5% lost with, 1.5% lost without.With Kerry Lieberman I imagine the numbers would be the same. That’s assuming that the 1.5% loss of GDP estimate for the effects of warming is even close to accurate. No matter how you crunch the numbers, the costs are outweighing the benefits quite a bit.

2 Kerry-Lieberman Bill Would Have Minimal Effect on Climate Even If Works as Promised - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine { 05.12.10 at 3:48 pm }

[...] Knappenberger, who is skeptical of predictions of impending catastrophic man-made global warming, does some calculating to find out just how much climate would be "saved" by the Kerry-Lieberman carbon rationing [...]

3 US to legislate carbon cuts | Australian Climate Madness { 05.12.10 at 5:43 pm }

[...] [...]

4 Window Dressing Cap and Trade Won’t Make the Costs Go Away | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. { 05.12.10 at 6:01 pm }

[...] job losses from carbon capping policies.And what’s it all for? Climatologist Chip Knappenberger modeled the environmental benefits and found, “The global temperature “savings” of the Kerry-Lieberman bill is astoundingly [...]

5 Senate’s New Global Warming Bill Has a Gas Tax « Fellowship of the Minds { 05.12.10 at 7:17 pm }

[...] troubling is that the environmental benefits of the legislation are minimal at best. According to a new analysis, Kerry-Lieberman would reduce global temperatures by only 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. Senate [...]

6 American Power Act - MeMiM { 05.12.10 at 7:40 pm }

[...] Power Act help the US work toward renewable energy or is it just a gimmick? Articles, ideas, pictuAmerican Power Act – Clean Energy Jobs And American Power Act | Residential Solar Will the clean energy jobs and [...]

7 Michael D Smith { 05.12.10 at 9:52 pm }

I realize why you’ve started with the baseline you did, but it is worth mentioning that virtually all credible recent research on feedback using actual satellite measurements and not climate models results in negative feedback for H2O and temperature. So any warming caused by CO2 is quickly damped by this and the IPCC warming scenarios are in the 5 to 10x too high range, depending on which study you use, and your resulting “savings” are also overstated by 5 to 10x.

8 Anonymous { 05.13.10 at 12:11 am }
9 Richard W. Fulmer { 05.13.10 at 7:48 am }

It is hard to believe that people in developing countries will condemn themselves and their children to poverty by adopting emissions cuts similar to those mandated by this bill. It becomes impossible to believe when it is understood that the science underlying the claimed need for this action is so shaky that its advocates can only prop it up by falsifying data, denying others access to their numbers, and shouting down the opposition.

10 Charles Higley { 05.13.10 at 8:59 am }

Since there is no climate issue to deal with, this bill is totally meaningless, unless they admit its goal to raise undeserved additional funds for Obamacare and the government’s out of control spending.
As the climate is cooling via perfectly natural cycles, and will do so for the next 30 years, and CO2 cannot drive the climate, even the small temperature savings mentioned above may not exist.

This bill is just another way to feed the spending beast, taking hidden taxes from everybody, in a regressive way. Raising electricity and energy costs in a recession is also suicide and a great way to cause a depression.

11 Global Warming- Sen Inhofe « Newsbeat1 { 05.13.10 at 10:45 am }

[...] Climate Dud…Master resource [...]

12 Mark Krebs { 05.13.10 at 11:07 am }

The American Power Act: 50% better than ACES.

Is the glass as half empty or half full? Here is the case for half full (with significant assistance from Prozac): The American Power Act: weighs in at just under 2 reams of paper whereas ACES is nearly 3 reams. Therefore, the American Power Act is a 50% improvement. Just think how many trees this saved!

13 Jay Davis { 05.13.10 at 11:16 am }

No matter what they call it, this bill is still based on the AGW hoax! Kerry, Lieberman and any senator who votes for this bill should be run out of office and hounded til the day they die. They negative effect of this bill on the American economy would be devastating. We need to have another tea party!

14 Mark Krebs { 05.13.10 at 11:27 am }

PS: Does this tree savings make the authors of the American Power Act eligible for offset credits?

15 Jon Boone { 05.13.10 at 4:01 pm }

Splendid stuff, Mark. My vote is that the APA author’s be eligible for the Gilded Fleece Award, and placed aboard the Argus and sent back across the ocean to Greece, where their wise council will doubtless restore stability to the ECU and the Euro. Our modern myths may not make for as good adventure as the ancient ones. But tall tales belong together, even across the ages….

16 Scientists Suggest Earth Could Be Uninhabitable In 300 Years - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum { 05.15.10 at 3:46 pm }

[...] [...]

17 Window Dressing Cap and Trade Won’t Make the Costs Go Away | Step Down Obama { 05.16.10 at 10:09 am }

[...] job losses from carbon capping policies.And what’s it all for? Climatologist Chip Knappenberger modeled the environmental benefits and found, “The global temperature “savings” of the Kerry-Lieberman bill is astoundingly [...]

18 Window Dressing Cap and Trade Won’t Make the Costs Go Away | Conservative Principles Now { 05.17.10 at 8:15 am }

[...] job losses from carbon capping policies.And what’s it all for? Climatologist Chip Knappenberger modeled the environmental benefits and found, “The global temperature “savings” of the Kerry-Lieberman bill is astoundingly [...]

19 The Kerry-Lieberman Scheme for Carbon Rationing - Reason Magazine { 05.18.10 at 2:02 pm }

[...] Knappenberger, who has long been skeptical of projections of catastrophic global warming, calculates the impact of Kerry-Lieberman carbon rationing, assuming that developing countries decline to make [...]

20 Tim Murray { 06.17.10 at 12:01 am }

350 ppm CO2 concentration today, from whatever source it comes from, is equivalent to a mouse fart in a high school gym. Does anyone truly believe that would inflence climate? In the last ce age, CO2 concentrations were 12 times current levels, and there were no cars or power plants operating in the last ice age…but the planet survived. Why would any sane person believe the same climate models 50-100 years forecasting in the future when they can’t forecast the weather next week!? This is a huge tax on capitalism to redistribute wealth based on something no one will ever be able to verify and will never have any material impact the environment.

21 EPA’s New Analysis of Cap and Trade Same Old Faulty Logic | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. { 06.17.10 at 7:02 pm }

[...] [...]

22 EPA’s New Analysis Of Cap And Trade Same Old Faulty Logic « PA Pundits – International { 06.18.10 at 5:02 am }

[...] are true, this bill provides negligible environmental benefit. Global temperature reduction from Kerry-Lieberman would be .077 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050 and 0.200 degrees by 2100. And despite the best attempt for politicians to marry the Gulf oil spill and cap and trade [...]

23 Senator Kerry and Lieberman release their new energy tax bill | Institute for Energy Research { 06.20.10 at 6:06 pm }

[...] billions in higher taxes, their bill will not affect global temperature in any significant way. Chip Knappenberger reports that: “The global temperature “savings” of the Kerry-Lieberman bill is astoundingly [...]

24 Senator Kerry and Lieberman release their new energy tax bill | Institute for Energy Research { 06.20.10 at 6:06 pm }

[...] billions in higher taxes, their bill will not affect global temperature in any significant way. Chip Knappenberger reports that: “The global temperature “savings” of the Kerry-Lieberman bill is astoundingly [...]

25 EPA Paints Rosy Picture of American Power Act | Institute for Energy Research { 06.20.10 at 6:06 pm }

[...] EPA’s analysis is not a cost-benefit analysis. According to EPA models, the global temperature savings of the Kerry-Lieberman bill is astoundingly small—0.043°C [...]

26 In 2009, U.S. Led the Rest of the World in Increases of Oil and Natural Gas Production; China Recorded the Greatest Increase in Energy Consumption and Emissions | Institute for Energy Research { 06.25.10 at 3:03 pm }
27 $700K Taxpayer-Funded Play on Climate Change | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. { 10.04.10 at 2:31 pm }

[...] it to be, and the environmental benefits from the proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are completely insignificant. Also often ignored are the benefits from living in a warmer world.When there is much work to be [...]

28 $700K Taxpayer-Funded Play On Climate Change « PA Pundits – International { 10.05.10 at 5:03 am }

[...] it to be, and the environmental benefits from the proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are completely insignificant. Also often ignored are the benefits from living in a warmer [...]

29 $700K Taxpayer-Funded Play on Climate Change | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. « Gds44's Blog { 10.05.10 at 1:29 pm }

[...] it to be, and the environmental benefits from the proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are completely insignificant. Also often ignored are the benefits from living in a warmer [...]

30 The Conservative's Guide to the 'Occupy Wall Street' Protests { 10.26.11 at 8:48 am }

[...] fossil fuels, capping carbon dioxide would be a massive tax on energy consumption that would have negligible impacts on the earth’s temperature.  A tax that increases energy prices would disproportionately eat into the income of the poorest [...]

31 The Conservative’s Guide to the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Protests | Jobs Forum India { 10.26.11 at 11:27 am }

[...] fossil fuels, capping carbon dioxide would be a massive tax on energy consumption that would have negligible impacts on the earth’s temperature.  A tax that increases energy prices would disproportionately eat into the income of the poorest [...]

32 The Conservative’s Guide to the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Protests | My Blog { 10.26.11 at 6:27 pm }

[...] fossil fuels, capping carbon dioxide would be a massive tax on energy consumption that would have negligible impacts on the earth’s temperature.  A tax that increases energy prices would disproportionately eat into the income of the poorest [...]

33 The Conservative Guide to OWS Protest | JeffChidester.com { 10.27.11 at 7:59 pm }

[...] fossil fuels, capping carbon dioxide would be a massive tax on energy consumption that would have negligible impacts on the earth’s temperature [26].  A tax that increases energy prices would disproportionately eat into the income of the [...]

34 The Conservative’s Guide to the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Protests | PERSUASION IN INK { 10.27.11 at 8:00 pm }

[...] fossil fuels, capping carbon dioxide would be a massive tax on energy consumption that would have negligible impacts on the earth’s temperature.  A tax that increases energy prices would disproportionately eat into the income of the poorest [...]

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