The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track planetary extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉
Main Topic: A Dire Cheating Scandal…Many Countries Are Underreporting Greenhouse Emissions
Dear Diary. When you were young, did you ever cheat on your homework, having someone else do it, or a test? Later in life, how about cheating on a spouse or your tax returns? These are mere forepaws compared to how large organizations, companies, and nations cheat in order to have better standing with the world. Usually, we can fit all large scale cheating within the umbrella of one word, corruption.
When it comes down to international treaties there has been much cheating throughout history. Much of this cheating has led to war…just ask older people of any European nation. Now we are in the greatest struggle the world as a whole has ever seen, that of keeping our climate stable enough for civilization, as we know it, to continue. All nations must comply with agreements stemming from the Paris Accords and each subsequent COP meeting. Have they in the last few years? The sad answer for many, particularly developing countries, the answer is no.
My friends at the Washington Post have written a masterful article on cheating among nations in association with reporting greenhouse emissions. The cheating has allowed fossil fuel interests to continue their business as usual practices without much, if any, impediments. Tisk Tisk.
Unless this cheating ends soon we can kiss our stable climate goodbye. The following is part of this lengthy article. I am reposting the beginning of it for you, my readers. To read the thing in its entirety plus see some great graphics please click the following link:
Countries’ climate pledges built on flawed data, Post investigation finds
A large plantation of palm trees, which produce palm oil, borders an undrained peat forest in Simunjan in the Sarawak region of Malaysia. When peat-rich bogs are drained and converted to farmlands, they release a rapid pulse of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as the once-waterlogged plants’ remains degrade with the sudden exposure to air. (Photos for The Washington Post)
Malaysia’s latest catalogue of its greenhouse gas emissions to the United Nations reads like a report from a parallel universe. The 285-page document suggests that Malaysia’s trees are absorbing carbon four times faster than similar forests in neighboring Indonesia.
The surprising claim has allowed the country to subtract over 243 million tons of carbon dioxide from its 2016 inventory — slashing 73 percent of emissions from its bottom line.
Across the world, many countries underreported their greenhouse gas emissions in their reports to the United Nations, a Washington Post investigation has found. An examination of 196 country reports reveals a giant gap between what nations declare their emissions to be vs. the greenhouse gases they are sending into the atmosphere. The gap ranges from at least 8.5 billion to as high as 13.3 billion tons a year of underreported emissions — big enough to move the needle on how much the Earth will warm.
The plan to save the world from the worst of climate change is built on data. But the data the world is relying on is inaccurate.
“If we don’t know the state of emissions today, we don’t know whether we’re cutting emissions meaningfully and substantially,” said Rob Jackson, a professor at Stanford University and chair of the Global Carbon Project, a collaboration of hundreds of researchers. “The atmosphere ultimately is the truth. The atmosphere is what we care about. The concentration of methane and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is what’s affecting climate.”
At the low end, the gap is larger than the yearly emissions of the United States. At the high end, it approaches the emissions of China and comprises 23 percent of humanity’s total contribution to the planet’s warming, The Post found.
As tens of thousands of people are convening in Glasgow for what may be the largest-ever meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), also known as COP26, the numbers they are using to help guide the world’s effort to curb greenhouse gases represent a flawed road map.
That means the challenge is even larger than world leaders have acknowledged.
“In the end, everything becomes a bit of a fantasy,” said Philippe Ciais, a scientist with France’s Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences who tracks emissions based on satellite data. “Because between the world of reporting and the real world of emissions, you start to have large discrepancies.”
The UNFCCC collects country reports and oversees the Paris agreement, which brought the world together to progressively reduce emissions in 2015. The U.N. agency attributed the gap that The Post identified to “the application of different reporting formats and inconsistency in the scope and timeliness of reporting (such as between developed and developing countries, or across developing countries).”
When asked if the United Nations plans on addressing the gap, spokesman Alexander Saier saidin an email it is continuing its efforts to strengthen the reporting process: “However, we do acknowledge that more needs to be done, including finding ways to provide support to developing country Parties to improve their institutional and technical capacities.”
The gap comprises vast amounts of missing carbon dioxide and methane emissions as well as smaller volumes of powerful synthetic gases. It is the result of questionably drawn rules, incomplete reporting in some countries and apparently willful mistakes in others — and the fact that in some cases, humanity’s full impacts on the planet are not even required to be reported.
The Post’s analysis is based on a data set built from emissions figures countries reported to the United Nations in a variety of formats. To overcome the problem of missing years of data, reporters used a statistical model to estimate the emissions each country would have reported in 2019, then compared that total to other scientific data sets measuring global greenhouse gases.
The analysis found at least 59 percent of the gap stems from how countries account for emissions from land, a unique sector in that it can both help and harm the climate. Land can draw in carbon as plants grow and soils store it away — or it can all go back up into the atmosphere as forests are logged or burn and as peat-rich bogs are drained and start to emit enormous surges of carbon dioxide.
A key area of controversy is that many countries attempt to offset the emissions from burning fossil fuels by claiming that carbon is absorbed by land within their borders. U.N. rules allow countries, such as China, Russia and the United States, each to subtract more than half a billion tons of annual emissions in this manner, and in the future could allow these and other countries to continue to release significant emissions while claiming to be “net zero.”
In other words, much of the gap is driven by subtractions countries have made on their balance sheets. Many scientists say countries should only claim these greenhouse gas reductions when they take clearaction, as opposed to claimingnatural forest regrowth unrelated to national policies.
And some of this carbon absorption isn’t even happening — or at least not on the scale that countries assert.
Malaysia, for example, released 422 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2016, placing it among the world’s top 25 emitters that year, according to data compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. But because Malaysia claims its trees are consuming vast amounts of CO2, its reported emissions to the United Nations are just 81 million tons, less than those of the small European nation of Belgium.
In Sarawak, nearly 4,000 square miles of peatlands have been drained in recent decades to make way for plantations for palm oil, commonly used in products ranging from biofuels to processed foods, soaps, and makeup.
About this series: The world has pledged to rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades, but a Washington Post investigation has found the data underlying those pledges is inaccurate. In the second installment of our series, Invisible, The Post uncovered a vast gap between country emission reports and what scientists say is being emitted into the atmosphere.
The Post found that methane emissions comprise a second major portion of the missing greenhouse gases in the U.N. database. Independent scientific data sets show between57 million and 76 million tons more of human-caused methane emissions hitting the atmosphere than U.N. country reports do. That converts to between 1.6 billion and 2.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions.
Scientific research indicates that countries are undercounting methane of all kinds: in the oil and gas sector, where it leaks from pipelines and other sources; in agriculture, where it wafts upward from the burps and waste of cows and other ruminant animals; and in human waste, wherelandfills are a major source.
European Union officials estimate that rapid reductions in methane could trim at least 0.2 degrees Celsius from overall global temperature rise by 2050. More than 100 nations have now signed onto the newly formed Global Methane Pledge, an initiative launched by the United States and the E.U., which aims to cut emissions 30 percent by the end of the decade. But some of the world’s biggest methane emitters, including China and Russia, have yet to join the pact.
President Biden told delegates meeting in Glasgow that cutting methane emissions is essential to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
“One of the most important things we can do in this decisive decade — to keep 1.5 degrees in reach — is reduce our methane emissions as quickly as possible,” Biden said.
A new generation of sophisticated satellites that can measure greenhouse gases are now orbiting Earth, and they can detect massive methane leaks. Data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) lists Russia as the world’s top oil and gas methane emitter, but that’s not what Russia reports to the United Nations. Its official numbers fall millions of tons shy of what independent scientific analyses show, a Post investigation found. Many oil and gas producers in the Persian Gulf region, such as the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, also report very small levels of oil and gas methane emission that don’t line up with other scientific data sets.
“It’s hard to imagine how policymakers are going to pursue ambitious climate actions if they’re not getting the right data from national governments on how big the problem is,” said Glenn Hurowitz, chief executive of Mighty Earth, an environmental advocacy group.
Meanwhile, fluorinated gases, which are exclusively human-made, also are underreported. Known as “F-gases,” they are used in air conditioning, refrigeration and the electricity industry. But The Post found that dozens of countries don’t report these emissions at all — a major shortcoming since some of these potent greenhouse gases are a growing part of the world’s climate problem.
For much much more, just click:
Here are some more COP26 articles and news:
Here is more climate and weather news from Tuesday:
(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)
Now here are some of today’s articles and notes on the horrid COVID-19 pandemic:
(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.)
Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”