Notes & reference

These are the notes and references as they appear in the book, reproduced online for ease of use.

Chapter 1: The curve
Chapter 2: Heading for trouble fast
Chapter 3: The trillion-tonne limit
Chapter 4: Too much fuel in the ground
Chapter 5: No deal on the horizon
Chapter 6: Rebounds and ripples
Chapter 7: People, money and technology
Chapter 8: The write-off
Chapter 9: The growth debate
Chapter 10: The great global slumber
Chapter 11: The problem of sharing
Chapter 12: The supporting cast
Chapter 13: Food, forests and fuels
Chapter 14: Waking up
Chapter 15: Capping the carbon
Chapter 16: Pushing the right technologies – hard
Chapter 17: Dealing with land and smoke
Chapter 18: Making a plan B


1. B. McKibben, ‘Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math’ (Rolling Stone, 2012,

Chapter 1: The curve

1. For a readable summary of fire’s role in human brain evolution, see R. Wrangham, Catching Fire (Profile Books, 2009). Diet also contributed to brain development much earlier – e.g. when primates developed colour vision, helping them spot ripe fruits amid green foliage, as described in W. R. Leonard et al., ‘Effects of brain evolution on human nutrition and metabolism’ (Annual Review of Nutrition, 2007,

2. Marco Polo, The Travels of Marco Polo, Volume One, Chapter XXX. Available online at:

3. W. S. Jevons, The Coal Question (1865). The full quote runs: ‘Coal in truth stands not beside but entirely above all other commodities. It is the material energy of the country – the universal aid – the factor in everything we do. With coal almost any feat is possible or easy; without it we are thrown back into the laborious poverty of early times. With such facts familiarly before us, it can be no matter of surprise that year by year we make larger draughts upon a material of such myriad qualities – of such miraculous powers.’

4. ‘More than 500 Exajoules’ from GEA, 2012: Global Energy Assessment (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, 2012, Estimates for the amount of energy that a working human can provide typically clock in at around 100W – enough to power a single old-fashioned light bulb. That equates to 360,000 joules per hour. Working seven hours a day, five days a week, that would give around 650 megajoules per ‘energy slave’ per year. Average per capita energy use is currently around 71 gigajoules (500 exajoules / 7 billion), equivalent to around 110 such energy slaves.

5. And the rate of increase of that rate of increase is proportional to the rate of increase. And so on forever.

6. Andrew Jarvis and colleagues at Lancaster University pointed out the fit of manmade emissions to an exponential curve with, statistically speaking, astonishingly little deviation. The same applies to energy use. Here is the maths from their paper (which unlike the chart in chapter one excludes cement production):

U = eα(t-t1)

Where U is annual global anthropogenic CO2 emissions, from energy and land use change combined (in gigatonnes per year), α = 0.0179 ± 0.0006 per year (the very small error margin from exponential shows the strength of fit to an exponential curve) and t1 = 1883AD ± 1.7 years

And for energy use, where E = annual energy use in joules × 1015

E = eµ(t-t1)

Where µ = 0.0238 ± 0.0008 and t1 = 1775 AD ± 3.5 years

Note that µ is greater than α. In other words carbon emissions have been less aggressively exponential than energy use, showing that we have been steadily decreasing the carbon intensity of energy over time, as described in chapter seven.

Source: A. Jarvis et al., ‘Climate–Society Feedbacks and the avoidance of Dangerous Climate Change’ (Nature Climate Change, 2012, That paper in turn draws on the most definitive datasets for human carbon emissions: T. A. Boden et al., ‘Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel: CO2 Emissions’ and R. A. Houghton, ‘Carbon Flux to the Atmosphere from Land-Use Changes: 1850–2005’ (both Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, 2010).

7. ‘Trends in Global CO2 Emissions; 2012 Report’ (PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, 2012,

8. After 600 years, our emissions would be around 30 GT (today’s emissions) × e(0.0179 × 600) = 1.38 × 1015 tonnes. Of that, 32/44 would be oxygen = 1.01 × 1015 tonnes. That’s more than there is oxygen in the atmosphere, which would be 20 per cent of the total weight (5.3 × 1018 kg, according to = 1.06 × 1015 tonnes.

Chapter 2: Heading for trouble fast

1. For example, see ‘G8+5 Academies’ Joint Statement: Climate Change and the Transformation of Energy Technologies for a Low Carbon Future’ (2009, It says that it is ‘essential that world leaders agree on the emission reductions needed to combat negative consequences of anthropogenic climate change’. The statement is signed by the heads of Academia Brasileira de Ciéncias, Brazil; Royal Society of Canada, Canada; Chinese Academy of Sciences, China; Académie des Sciences, France; Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina, Germany; Indian National Science Academy, India; Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Italy; Science Council of Japan, Japan; Academia Mexicana de Ciencias, Mexico; Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia; Academy of Science of South Africa, South Africa; Royal Society, United Kingdom; and National Academy of Sciences, United States of America.

2. ‘January 2013 Global Temperature Update’ (NOAA National Climatic Data Center, 2013,

3. For an excellent layman-friendly summary of the science, see R. Henson, The Rough Guide to Climate Change (Rough Guides/Penguin, 2011). To go straight to the science sources, read the most recent IPCC report (available at and surprisingly layman-friendly). For additional corroboration, see the Berkeley Earth project (, run by physicist and ex-climate sceptic Professor Richard Muller, whose team examined 250 years of temperature records from scratch and concluded that the mainstream view of warming was correct and that ‘humans are almost entirely the cause’.

4. So speculated Martin Rees, former president of the UK’s Royal Society, in a speech at the opening of the Gordon Manley building at Lancaster University in 2006.

5. The IPCC latest report points to a 0.74°C temperature rise, which equates to an increase of 1.33°f. Source: Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report (IPCC, 2007,

6. For example: R. Tol, ‘The Economic Effects of Climate Change’ (Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2009, currently available at:

7. IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, Table 19.1 (2007,

8. P. C. Tzedakis et al., ‘Determining the Natural Length of the Current Interglacial’ (Nature Geoscience, 2012,

9. James Hansen and colleagues at NASA found that events extreme enough to affect only 0.13 per cent of the earth’s surface each summer in the period 1951 to 1980 (at the time these were three standard deviations away from average weather) are now affecting a massive 10 per cent of the earth’s surface each year. Hence they were able to conclude: ‘We can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small.’ Source: Hansen et al., ‘Public Perception of Climate Change and the New Climate Dice’ (PNAS, 2012,

Other important studies looking at attribution of extreme weather events to climate change include: P. Pall et al., ‘Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gas Contribution to Flood Risk in England and Wales in Autumn 2000’ (Nature, 2011,

10. A readable summary why this is with references to key scientific papers is available from the NASA Earth Observatory at

11. A. Davis et al., ‘The Impact of Climate Change on Indigenous Arabica Coffee (Coffea arabica): Predicting Future Trends and Identifying Priorities’ (PLoS ONE, 2012,

12. For a page-turning potted history of climate science, along with a candid description of the risks of abrupt change and a persuasive call for carbon scrubbing, read Fixing Climate: The Story of Climate Science and How to Stop Global Warming by Robert Kunzig and Wallace Broecker (Profile Books, 2008).

13. The official agreement also nods to 1.5°C as a way of acknowledging that 2°C might submerge a number of low-lying island nations, but virtually no policymakers are pushing for such a target to be met.

14. J. B. Smith et al., ‘Assessing Dangerous Climate Change through an Update of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “Reasons for Concern”’ and M. Mann, ‘Defining Dangerous Anthropogenic Interference’ (both PNAS, 2009).

15. J. Hansen and M. Sato, ‘Paleoclimate implications for Human-made Climate Change’. In: Climate Change: Inferences from Paleoclimate and Regional Aspects (Springer, 2012, currently available at:

16. See: J. Fasullu and K. Trenberth, ‘A Less Cloudy Future: The Role of Subtropical Subsidence in Climate Sensitivity’ (Science, 2012, The US National Center for Atmospheric Research summed up the research as follows: ‘Climate model projections showing a greater rise in global temperature are likely to prove more accurate than those showing a lesser rise’ (source:

17. The IPCC estimates that the Last Glacial Maximum was 3–5°C cooler than the present, which roughly equates to 2.25–4.25°C cooler than the preindustrial temperature. Source: Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis (IPCC, 2007,

18. ‘Extreme temperatures’ (Met Office, 2011, Also see the Met Office’s visualisation of impacts at 4°C (°c).

19. K. Anderson, ‘Climate Change: Going Beyond Dangerous’ – a presentation with slides available at:

20. She said: ‘The current state of affairs is unacceptable precisely because we have a responsibility and a golden opportunity to act. Energy-related CO2 emissions are at historic highs, and under current policies, we estimate that energy use and CO2 emissions would increase by a third by 2020, and almost double by 2050. This would be likely to send global temperatures at least 6C higher within this century.’ Source: F. Harvey and D. Carrington, ‘Governments Failing to Avert Catastrophic Climate Change, IEA Warns’ (The Guardian, 2012,

21. Foreword from ‘Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided’ (World Bank, 2012,

Chapter 3: The trillion-tonne limit

1. M. Allen et al., ‘Warming Caused by Cumulative Carbon Emissions Towards the Trillionth Tonne’ (Nature, 2009, Other studies on the same topic have come up with similar estimates. These include M. Meinshausen et al., ‘Greenhouse-gas emission targets for limiting global warming to 2°C’ (Nature, 2009, In this book we stick with the trillionth tonne paper for simplicity, though it’s important to note that some other papers have suggested a slightly lower temperature response to any cumulative emissions budget. See for example: H. Damon Matthews et al., ‘The proportionality of global warming to cumulative carbon emissions’ (Nature, 2009, Recent developments in estimates for climate sensitivity, informed by the rate of temperature change in the last decade, may support these more optimistic assessments, which would – encouragingly – suggest slightly larger budgets for any given odds of hitting 2°C.

2. Confusingly, ‘carbon’ is often used as shorthand for carbon dioxide but when it comes to weights the two are quite different. Each tonne of carbon atoms in oil, coal or gas becomes 3.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide molecules. This is simply because the CO2 contains the weight of two oxygen atoms as well as one carbon atom.

Chapter 4: Too much fuel in the ground

1. Exact terminology and definitions for different types of resource and reserve vary widely between country and company. Sometimes the percentages describe the chance of being produced rather than the chance of being exceeded. Proven are often described as ‘1P’ or ‘P90’; proven plus probable reserves as ‘2P’ or ‘P50’; and proven plus probable plus possible reserves as ‘3P’ or ‘P10’. For an excellent summary of the ambiguities and terminology, see C. McGlade, ‘A Review of the Uncertainties in Estimates of Global Oil Resources’ (Energy, 2012,

2. ‘BP Statistical Review of World Energy’ 2011 and 2012 editions. Available at:

3. Shell was subject to a huge amount of criticism in 2004 after it turned out to have exaggerated its proven reserves by 20 per cent. For a contemporary report on the fall-out see T. Messenger, ‘Oil Giant Shell’s Investors Shocked’ (BBC, 2004,

4. A US government assessment of 32 countries claimed that those nations had 169 trillion cubic metres of technically recoverable shale gas – around the same as the world’s economically recoverable reserves of conventional natural gas. But official figures for the US were cut almost in half in early 2012, while Cuadrilla a company drilling in the UK recently announced its Lancashire site contains 5 trillion cubic metres – ten times more than the US estimate for the whole UK. Similarly, China’s own survey put its reserves nearly twice as high as the figure given in the US survey. For links and more background see D. Clark, ‘Q&A: Shale Gas and Fracking’ (, 2012,

5. The chart is based on data from the IEA World Energy Outlook 2012. The figures roughly match those from other sources such as BP’s ‘Statistical Review of Energy 2012’.

6. This issue was first explored in depth in: P. Kharecha and J. Hansen, ‘Implications of “Peak Oil” for atmospheric CO2 and Climate’ (Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 2008,

7. Data supplied directly to the authors by Christophe McGlade at the UCL Energy Institute. They are being prepared for publication and aren’t available publicly at the time of writing.

8. IEA, World Energy Outlook 2012, Table 2.4: Fossil-fuel reserves and resources by region and type, end-201.

9. For the sake of simplicity, this stack ignores certain emissions such as the ‘fugitive’ (leaked) emissions of methane from shale gas extraction.

10. For a good summary of the ‘peakist’ view, see Jeremy Leggett’s Half Gone (Portobello Books, 2006).

11. IEA,World Energy Outlook 2012, Table 3.15: World oil supply by type in the New Policies Scenario. The New Policies Scenario is the IEA’s ‘central scenario’, which takes into account existing and announced government commitments and plans.

Chapter 5: No deal on the horizon

1. For example, one survey by academics from the School of Psychology at Cardiff University found that ‘most respondents … regard national governments (32 per cent) and the international community (30 per cent) as being mainly responsible for taking action’. Source: A. Spence et al., ‘Public Perceptions of Climate Change and Energy Futures in Britain’ (working paper, 2012,

2. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Article 2, Objective: ‘The ultimate objective of this Convention and any related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.’ Available at:

3. The resolution stated that ‘the exemption for Developing Country Parties is inconsistent with the need for global action on climate change and is environmentally flawed’. The Byrd-Hagel Resolution is available online at:

4. Government announcements submitted under the Copenhagen Accord and acknowledged under the Cancun Agreements. Source:

5. The ‘green paradox’ concept was popularised by German environmental economist Hans-Werner Sinn. The existence and scale of the effect is the subject of debate.

6. Full details of the UNFCCC Durban Agreements are available at

7. Map generated by D. Clark and R. Houston using data from the Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (CAIT) Version 9.0 (WRI, 2012, For an interactive version of the map, see

8. In 1997, the consumption footprint of the developed world accounted for 3831 MT, compared to 2612 MT for the developing world. The lines crossed in 2009. Source: Peters et al., ‘Rapid Growth in CO2 emissions after the 2008–2009 Global Financial Crisis’ (Nature Climate Change, 2012, Written up by Duncan for The Guardian at:

Chapter 6: Rebounds and ripples

1. The Model-T got 13–21 mpg and had a top speed of 45 mph according to Ford (source:, while Fiat quote 69 mpg for their 500C Twin Air and economy is rising all the time. Some prototype cars such as VW’s L1 Hybrid can get as much as 180 mpg.

2. W. S. Jevons, The Coal Question (1865).

3. For a good technical overview of rebound effects, see ‘The Rebound Effect: An Assessment of the Evidence for Economy-wide Energy Savings from Improved Energy Efficiency’ (UK Energy Research Centre, 2007, For a highly readable summary of many elements of the debate, see David Owen’s book, The Conundrum (Riverhead, 2012). Also worth reading are the numerous online debates between Owen and efficiency advocate Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, some which are linked off from:

4. ‘Energy Consumption in the UK’ (Department for Trade and Industry, undated, In the particular case of lighting it may well be that the total energy consumption has subsequently fallen as highly efficient bulbs achieve market dominance, but even when that happens it will be clear that increased consumption has offset many of the benefits.

5. This idea of more efficient and comfortable travel as an ‘amplifier’ of overall energy use is explored in depth in D. Owen, The Conundrum (Riverhead, 2012).

6. O. Milman, ‘Australian “Mega Mine” Plan Threatens Global Emissions Target’ (The Guardian, 2012,

7. The plans have caused a stir in Washington State, as reported in: ‘Fights Brewing over Massive Coal-Export Plans for the Northwest’ (Seattle Times, 2012,

8. ‘Oil and Gas: Petroleum Licensing Guidance’ (Department of Energy and Climate Change, undated,

9. The Technology Strategy Board recently announced a million pounds for SMEs that could ‘stimulate innovation and accelerate the development and deployment of new technologies likely to enhance production and asset reliability within the oil and gas sector’. Source: ‘Developing Innovation in the Oil and Gas Sector’ ( This grant is just the latest example of a subsidy to fuel extraction. Much larger tax breaks and subsidies pervade the developed and developing world. For more information see: D. Clark, ‘Fossil Fuel Subsidies and Tax Breaks Are Still Rising’ (The Guardian, 2013,

10. G. Monbiot, ‘Scottish Climate Policy Is Hypocritical, Contradictory and Counter-productive’ (The Guardian, 2009,

11. Peters et al., ‘Growth in Emission Transfers via International Trade from 1990 to 2008’ (PNAS, 2011,

12. ‘Government Should Be Open about Outsourced Emissions’ (, 2012,

13. Expenditure on electricity in China causes about three and half times as many emissions as the same electricity spend would have in the UK. The main reason for this is that coal is both cheaper than the UK’s energy mix and more carbon intensive per kilowatt hour. The financial incentive for managing carbon within Chinese industry is therefore dramatically lower than it is in the UK, almost certainly leading to energy inefficiencies on top of the carbon intensity of the energy itself.

14. D. Guan et al., ‘The Gigatonne Gap in China’s Carbon Dioxide Inventories’ (Nature Climate Change, 2012,

15. House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, ‘Consumption Based Emissions Reporting’ (House of Commons, 2012.

16. In itself, a switch to a global carbon framework based on consumption-based reporting wouldn’t necessarily reduce emissions, since it would encourage countries to allow more heavy industries as long as they were exporting the results. This point is made by M. Jakob and R. Marschinski, ‘Interpreting Trade-related CO2 Emission Transfers’ (Nature Climate Change, 2012, Hence it is not a panacea. But consumption-based accounting is necessary for seeing which countries are or aren’t reducing their footprint.

17. Advocates of this approach include economist Dieter Helm, author of The Carbon Crunch (Yale University Press, 2012).

18. Admittedly this is an oversimplification – not least because since the financial slump emissions have actually been running below the cap. But the broad point stands: when there’s a cap in place, then the action taken within that cap doesn’t usually affect the total level of emissions. Whether the ETS has made much difference to emissions is a matter for debate. It has suffered from various design flaws, such as over-allocation of permits, and the result has been a carbon price too low to drive significant levels of change. On the other hand, the ETS has at least shown that a large-area carbon trading scheme is possible. For a summary of the issues, see: ‘What is the Emissions Trading Scheme and Does it Work?’ (Sandbag and The Guardian, 2011,

Chapter 7: People, money and technology

1. The Kaya Identity was developed by and takes its name from Yoichi Kaya who used it in papers such as: ‘Impact of Carbon Dioxide Emission Control on GNP Growth: Interpretation of Proposed Scenarios’ (IPCC Energy and Industry Subgroup, 1990) and Y. Kaya and K. Yokobori, ‘Environment, Energy, and Economy: Strategies for Sustainability’ (United Nations University Press, 1997). The Kaya Identity is only the latest of a number of similar formulas to describe human environmental impact, the best known other one being ‘I = PAT’, developed by Paul Elrich and others, which states that Impact = Population × Affluence × Technology.

2. Data combined from various sources, referenced at

3. The World Bank data website puts the global average fertility rate at 4.92 in 1960 and 2.45 in 2010. Figures available at

4. All figures based on mean growth rates in the period 2005–2010, calculated from World Bank data available at:

5. Extrapolated from the international carbon footprint database created for the paper Peters et al., ‘Growth in Emission Transfers via International Trade from 1990 to 2008’ (PNAS, 2011, The data themselves are available at

6. The relationship between emissions and population growth isn’t always so clear cut. There are anomalies such as the Middle East, which – with its fossil fuel riches and low levels of female empowerment – has relatively high emissions and a high birth rate. Moreover, populations are still growing, albeit more slowly, in many countries where carbon footprints are high, such as the US and UK. Broadly speaking, though, the trend is clear: most of the population growth is in poor countries while most of the fossil fuel use is elsewhere. For a well researched and written survey of world population trends and the role of female education and empowerment in reducing average fertility levels, see Fred Pearce’s Peoplequake: Mass Migration, Ageing Nations and the Coming Population Crash (Eden Project Books, 2011).

7. D. Satterthwaite, ‘The Implications of Population Growth and Urbanization for Climate Change’ (International Institute for Environment and Development, 2009,

8. One recent academic paper, based on a model sophisticated enough to consider factors such as the economic impact of urbanisation and ageing, went so far as to suggest that limiting population growth could provide 16–29 per cent of the emissions reductions needed by 2050. O’Neill et al., ‘Global Demographic Trends and Future Carbon Emissions’ (PNAS, 2010,

9. ‘World Population Prospects, 2010 Revision’ (United Nations, 2010,

10. F. Pearce, ‘Dubious Assumptions Prime Population Bomb’ (Nature, 2011,

11. ‘Rapid Growth in Less Developed Regions’ (United Nations Population Fund, undated,

12. ‘Roughly’ because there are slight differences between GDP per person and income per person. More accurately, GDP measures the total amount of goods and services produced and sold by all the companies and people within a country. Also commonly used is GDP’s near identical twin – GNP or gross nation product – which adds up the goods and services produced by the citizens and companies of a country, wherever they are in the world. Both are incomplete measures of productive activity as they miss out services that don’t involve any payment, such as caring for relatives and volunteering.

13. ‘Reasonably steadily’. Looking at an rolling trend line you could argue that there is a wave pattern corresponding with economic cycles.

14. To give just a few examples, Joseph Schumpeter believed innovation was the key; Adam Smith famously pointed to labour specialisation and improved business processes in his example of a pin factory; Tim Jackson and many environmentalists argue that cultural values are an additional important factor. Energy’s role in particular has been debated. Mainstream economics has traditionally assigned it a relatively small role in driving growth on the grounds that fuel and power sales represent a small proportion of total GDP. More recently, however, ecological economists have argued that energy has played a far bigger role in driving growth than neoliberal economics suggests. This, they claim, helps explain why a small decline in the availability of energy – such as in the oil crises of the 1970s – can lead to major recessions. For a readable summary of this debate and links to various academics papers see A. Fanning, ‘Economics, Growth and Energy in the Green Economy’ (Human Dimensions, 2012.

15. R. York, ‘Asymmetric Effects of Economic Growth and Decline on CO2 Emissions’ (Nature Climate Change, 2012,

16. For an engaging summary of how rising incomes can help slow population growth, see Hans Rosling’s customarily engaging TED talk ‘Global Population Growth, Box by Box’. Available at:

17. In Technological Trajectories and the Human Environment (National Academy of Engineering, 1997) the authors estimate that the longer-term trend ‘appears to have averaged about 1 percent per year since the mid-nineteenth century and about 2 percent per year in some countries since the mid-1970s’. Available online at:

18. Overall, low-carbon energy sources currently account for around 19 per cent of global energy consumption at the time of writing, although most of that comes from traditional wood, dung and hydro – not all of which are necessarily sustainable, let alone rapidly growing. For a recent summary of the data, see: ‘Renewables 2011 Global Status Report’ (REN21, 2011,

19. Graph adapted from the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2012, Figure 5.2: Incremental world primary energy demand by fuel, 2001–2011. Note that renewables would look better from the perspective of consumer supply because much of the energy in coal and gas is wasted as heat in power stations. But from the climate’s perspective, it’s only the fossil fuel use that matters.

20. Figures are from BP’s ‘Statistical Review of World Energy 2012’ ( and are based on ‘gross generation from renewable sources including wind, geothermal, solar, biomass and waste’. Hydro is not included.

21. Chart courtesy of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. Source: A. Grubler et al., Global Energy Assessment: Toward a Sustainable Future (IIASA/Cambridge University Press, 2012,

22. For an engaging summary of the surging demand for air conditioning in India, see E. Rosenthal and A. W. Lehren, ‘Relief in Every Window, but Global Worry Too’ (New York Times, 2012,

23. Conversation between Duncan Clark and fast-breeder nuclear advocate Tom Blees. Of course, if fast nuclear reactors became low-cost enough to serve this role, then arguably policymakers would find it much easier to regulate carbon and the world could use nuclear for powering and heating homes and factories directly, enabling the gas to stay in the ground. But that won’t necessarily be easy given the existing fossil fuel infrastructure and the difficulty of installing nuclear power in many countries.

24. The marginal costs and impacts of a commodity are the costs and impacts of increasing supply by one unit. This can be significantly higher or lower than the average cost or impact. In the case of coal power, the marginal cost of continuing to use an existing plant is lower than the total average cost of a unit of electricity, because money has already been sunk into the plant’s construction. Marginal demand also affects all kinds of other environmental assessments. For example, even though most countries use a mix of renewables, nuclear and fossil fuels, the marginal demand is almost entirely supplied by fossil fuels, because any nuclear and renewable capacity available will usually be working flat out, given that they have no fuel costs. Hence although the average carbon footprint of a unit of electricity might be, say, 500 grams, the actual footprint of adding a unit to demand (or the savings of reducing demand by a unit) may be much higher – say 900 grams.

25. ‘European Integrated Oils’ (Deutsche Bank, 2009, available at the time of writing at

26. IEA, World Energy Outlook 2012, Table 2.1, World primary energy demand and energy-related CO2 emissions by scenario.

27. Mark Scott, ‘The Big New Push to Export America’s Gas Bounty’ (New York Times, 2012, As one energy executive quoted in the article puts it: ‘There’s so much potential for the U.S. to take advantage of high prices in global markets … We’ve got to capitalize while we can.’

28. Different studies and reports have reached different conclusions about the amount of ‘fugitive’ methane emitted during fracking. One of the more pessimistic studies is R. Howarth et al., ‘Methane and the Greenhouse-gas Footprint of Natural Gas from Shale Formations’ (Climatic Change, 2011, Opinions also vary about the ease with which these emissions might be reduced. For a broader background to shale gas issues see, D. Clark, ‘Q&A: Shale Gas and Fracking’ (The Guardian, 2012,

29. The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries ( is a cartel of twelve nations that collectively account for a large proportion of the world’s oil production. OPEC limits total exports by agreeing production quotas. This ensures that oil prices are higher than they would otherwise be as well as increasing the geopolitical influence of the nations themselves. The Organisation’s principal aim is ‘the coordination and unification of the petroleum policies of Member Countries and the determination of the best means for safeguarding their interests, individually and collectively’. OPEC’s influence on the global oil market is smaller than it once was, due to more oil coming on stream in other countries, though its production quotas remain a significant factor in determining global energy prices.

Chapter 8: The write-off

1. L. Mageri, ‘Oil: The Next Revolution’, Discussion Paper 2012–10 (Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, 2012,

2. ‘Point of No Return: The Massive Climate Threats We Must Avoid’ (Greenpeace, 2013,

3. BP states that, ‘Our “Policy Case” … assumes a step-change in the political commitment to action on carbon emissions. Even in this case, the path to reach 450 ppm remains elusive. However, a declining emissions path by 2030 is achievable, given the political will to shoulder the cost.’ We requested an interview with BP to discuss these issues but they didn’t respond.

4. Our $100 rough figure is based on an average at the time of writing between Brent crude ($112) and West Texas Intermediate ($89), as listed on Oil reserves figure from BP’s ‘Statistical Review of World Energy 2012’ (

5. Arriving at an appropriate discount rate is not by any means an exact science. Four per cent is the figure suggested by the UK’s Office of National Statistics for estimating the value of the UK’s oil reserves. They write: ‘This rate can be approximated by the interest rate on low risk bonds. The choice of discount rate is a very debatable issue as it involves balancing considerations of intergenerational equity (the discount rate should be equal to zero in this case), social time preference, the social opportunity cost of capital and (in the case of oil and gas) the degree to which fossil fuels will be substitutable in the future or will prove to have other economic uses. The precise value [of the social discount rate] is fairly arbitrary but a figure of 4 per cent has been considered acceptable by the Eurostat Task Force.’ Source: ‘The Valuation of Oil and Gas Reserves’ (ONS, 1998,

6. ‘Unburnable Carbon’ (Carbon Tracker, 2013, being drafted at the time of writing). Interestingly and encouragingly, this total market capitalisation is more than a third lower than it was in same report in February 2011. It isn’t clear how much of this loss of value (if any) is due to increased investor concern about the potential impact of climate legislation on fuel company profits.

7. Personal correspondence with James Leaton of Carbon Tracker.

8. The IEA estimates that approximately two-thirds of proven coal reserves are government owned, and around 90 per cent of proven oil and gas reserves. Source: World Energy Outlook 2012, Figure 8.12: Potential CO2 emissions from remaining fossil-fuel reserves by fuel type.

9. These rough figures are based on the fossil fuel activity of listed coal companies being worth $0.7 trillion (and accounting for 35 per cent of all coal reserves) and the listed oil and gas sector being worth $3.3 trillion (and accounting for 10 per cent of all oil and gas reserves).

10. A Deutsche Bank assessment estimated the average cash costs of the major producers are $7.70 a barrel, with the UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia coming in below $2. Source: ‘European Integrated Oils’ (Deutsche Bank, 2009, available at the time of writing at By contrast one recent analysis put the cost of production for BP at close to $40 and suggested that the marginal cost (the cost of increasing production by one barrel) is closer to $100. Source: Kate Mackenzie, ‘Marginal Oil Production Costs Are Heading towards $100/Barrel’ (, 2012,

11. ‘The market value of Nasdaq companies peaked at $6.7 trillion in March 2000 and bottomed out at $1.6 trillion in October 2002.’ Gaither and Chmielewski, ‘Fears of Dot-Com Crash, Verson 2.0’, Los Angeles Times, 16 July 2006. Available at:

12. BP’s annual ‘Statistical Review of World Energy’ is a standard source for energy reserve data. The latest version is made available at: This book was written using figures from the 2012 edition, though the map is based on the 2011 edition, in which Venezuelan reserves appear smaller.

13. Map from, created by Duncan Clark and Robin Houston, based on BP’s ‘Statistical Review of World Energy 2011’. Note that the BP figures only list countries with large reserves, with the remainder listed under ‘Other Africa’, ‘Other Asia/Pacific’. These unallocated emissions make up a few per cent of the estimated total. For this map, the unallocated reserves for each region have been distributed between unlisted countries relative to their surface area.

14. The Cartagena Dialogue is a loose-knit body with no formal membership list. We’ve taken the membership to be as follows: Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Burundi, Chile, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, European Union, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Malawi, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Rwanda, Samoa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Uruguay. This list is based on various press releases and interviews carried out by environmental studies student Cecilia Pineda ( We’ve excluded Mexico and South Africa who are marked as observers. Based on this list, our calculations suggest that EU, Cartagena Dialogue, AoSIS and Africa collectively control 19.8 per cent of the carbon in proven fossil fuel reserves.

15. Ratio of reserves to production from the BP ‘Statistical Review of World Energy 2012’ (

16. Based on graph from IEA, World Energy Outlook 2012, Figure 8.12, Potential CO2 emissions from remaining fossil-fuel reserves by fuel type.

17. For example, the UK stock market in 2010 was owned 41 per cent by foreign investors, 9 per cent by insurance companies, 5 per cent by pension funds (a historic low), 16 per cent by other financial institutions and 12 per cent by UK individuals. Source: ‘Statistical Bulletin: Ownership of UK Quoted Shares’ (Office for National Statistics, 2010,

18. ‘Unburnable Carbon: Are the World’s Financial Markets Carrying a Carbon Bubble?’ (Carbon Tracker, 2012,

19. HSBC Global Research, ‘Oil & Carbon Revisited: Value at Risk from “Unburnable” Reserves’ (HSBC, 2013).

20. The HSBC analysis is based on IEA 450ppm scenario which includes major roll-out of CCS, as shown in the chart in chapter ten of this book. The scenario assumes climate change is tackled by national commitments to cut carbon, which force down demand with the effect of reducing the global trading price, even as end-user prices rise due to carbon. If instead there was a global cap-and-trade system on extraction then the trading price might be high but the profits would be reduced instead by the cost of acquiring permits.

21. Figures from, as of February 2013. The numbers for the alternative energy sector were $2.5 million in donations and $28 million in lobbying. Of the fossil fuel money, more than three-quarters has gone to the Republicans, though a sizable amount was received by politicians of other parties, including President Obama himself, who is reported to have taken $884,000 dollars from oil and gas companies in the run-up to the 2008 election (source:

22. At the Sleipner project in the Norwegian North Sea, carbon dixoide is injected back into a gas well to avoid the national tax on carbon emissions. There are no signs of leakage, according to studies such as: R. Arts et al., ‘Recent Time-lapse Seismic Data Show No Indication of Leakage at the Sleipner CO2-injection Site’ (GHGT-7, 2004). For more sites, see Hosa et al., ‘Benchmarking worldwide CO2 saline aquifer injections’ (Scottish Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage, 2010,

23. For an excellent summary of CCS technologies, see the briefing paper from the Grantham Research Institute at Imperial College. Separate papers for capture and storage can be found via:

24. The first flagship CCS scheme in the US, launched by President George W. Bush in 2003, was FutureGen – a plan for a zero-emissions coal plant in Mattoon, Illinois. After various setbacks, government money was finally pulled in 2008. After President Obama came to office, the project was revived under the name FutureGen 2.0 (see: In the UK, CCS support began with a government-run competition. The scheme was widely criticised and reached crisis-point in late 2011 when the only remaining contender dropped out. See:

25. The Global CCS Institute maintains an up-to-date list of CCS projects on its website at:

26. M. Blunt, ‘Grantham Institute for Climate Change Briefing Paper No. 4: Carbon Dioxide Storage’ (2010,

27. N. McGlashan et al., ‘Grantham Institute for Climate Change Briefing Paper No. 8: Negative Emissions Technologies’ (2012,

28. The $95/tonne figure is from the Grantham paper cited in the previous note, based on Lackner’s own figures. However, Lackner has also predicted lower long-term costs. For example, at a talk at Imperial College London in September 2009 he said that he believes $30–40 may eventually be realistic.

29. A very readable history of Lackner’s efforts to create carbon scrubbers is provided in R. Kunzig and W. Broecker, Fixing Climate: The Story of Climate Science and How to Fix Global Warming (Profile Books, 2009).

30. An excellent overview of each approach is given in Chris Goodall’s book Ten Technologies to Fix Energy and Climate (Profile Books, 2009).

31. A good introduction to Savory’s approach (complete with lots of photos of case studies) is his 2013 TED talk, ‘How to Green the World’s Deserts and Reverse Climate Change’, available at

32. ‘Geoengineering the Climate: Science, Governance and Uncertainty’ (Royal Society, 2009,

33. This claim is made in Savory’s TED talk,, though at the time of writing that

34. A. Savory, ‘A Global Strategy for Addressing Global Climate Change’ (undated,

35. As of mid-2012, the website of the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles claims the global automotive industry turns over €1,889,840 billion, which equates to around $2.3 trillion. Source: World vehicle registrations in 2010 came to 1.015 billion, excluding off-road vehicles, according to Ward’s Auto (

36. IEA, World Energy Outlook 2012, chapter 8: Carbon in Energy Reserves and Energy Infrastructure.

37. S. Davis et al., ‘Future CO2 Emissions and Climate Change from Existing Energy Infrastructure’ (Science, 2010,

38. A. Yang and Y. Cui, ‘Global Coal Risk Assessment: Data Analysis and Market Research’ (WRI, 2012, Our back-of-the-envelope calculation runs as follows. The WRI report found 1,401,278 megawatts of planned coal capacity. Assuming typical usage of 7,000 hours a year, that’s 10 billion megawatt hours of power a year, or 350 billion megawatt hours over a lifetime of 35 years. At present, a megawatt hour of coal power in the UK produces around 910kg of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour. If we round that figure down to, say, 800kg to reflect efficiency gains in power stations, that would still give us lifetime emissions of 280 billion tonnes of CO2. That’s more than a third of the remaining carbon budget for a 75 per cent chance of limiting global warming to 2°C.

39. Figures from the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles, which publishes statistics by nation and year. Available at:

40. Davis et al. (see note 2, Chapter 9) put the figures at ‘17, 16, and 28 years for passenger cars, light trucks, and heavy vehicles (trucks and buses) respectively’, based on figures from the US, while ‘coal, natural gas, and oil [power plants run for] 38.6, 35.8, and 33.8 years, respectively.’

41. Based on comments by Li Jiaxiang, director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, quoted in L. Dongmei, ‘70 New Airports Planned, Aviation Official Says’ (Caixin Online, 2012,

42. Such a process is possible: with sufficient clean electricity, hydrogen can be electrolysed from water; CO2 can be captured from air; and the two can be combined to produce synthetic liquid fuels that are effectively carbon neutral. This is unlikely ever to be cost-competitive with electric cars but in theory could be useful for planes and other vehicles and devices that require liquid fuels in a carbon constrained world. One British firm exploring this technology is described in A. Hough, ‘British Engineers Produce Amazing “Petrol from Air” Technology’ (Telegraph, 2012,

Chapter 9: The growth debate

1. This breakdown was created by Mike for campaign group 10:10. All emissions are allocated to the end consumer, so ‘paper and printing’ for instance includes not just the fuels burned to harvest trees and process pulp, but also the laptops and business flights of staff working in that sector and even the paper industry’s share of the emissions caused by financial and legal companies. This approach is called ‘input-output’ carbon footprinting and forms the basis of much of Mike’s professional work. Another breakdown of the same numbers is shown in the chart below.

2. The company – Planetary Resources – launched to great media fanfare in spring 2012. Its investors include Google’s Eric Schmidt and Larry Page, and Avatar director James Cameron, among others. See:

3. Obama’s first extended statement on climate change in a long period was made on 14 November 2012, just after both the election and Hurricane Sandy. He said: ‘If the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change I don’t think anybody’s going to go for that. I won’t go for that. If on the other hand we can shape an agenda which says we can create jobs, advance growth and make a serious dint in climate change and be an international leader, then I think that’s something the American people would support.’ Currently available at:

4. Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change (HM Treasury, 2006,

5. K. Anderson and A. Bows, ‘Beyond Dangerous Climate Change: Emission Scenarios for a New World’ (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 2011,

6. For Tim Jackson’s perspective, see P. Victor and T. Jackson, ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’ (Dimensions, 2012, The piece concludes that green growth would require ‘completely unprecedented, almost certainly unrealistic, levels of improvement in technological efficiency’. See also Jackson’s book, Prosperity without Growth (Earthscan, 2009) or his report of the same title for the UK government’s Sustainable Development Commission (

7. IEA, World Energy Outlook 2011.

8. The Stern Review made its own decision over this, which was contentious but arguably no less defensible than the alternatives. Stern picked a ‘social discount rate’ of 1 per cent per year, based loosely on the idea that the lives of our grandchildren are as important as our own but there is a possibility that whatever we do, they might not get to exist anyway – in which case efforts to improve their future are wasted.

9. R. Wilkinson and L. Pickett’s The Spirit Level (Penguin, 2010), looks at many of these shortcomings in an accessible way. For more on the economic limitations of GDP, see J. Stiglitz et al., ‘The Report of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress’ (2009,

10. It’s not entirely clear who first said that what gets measured gets done. The phrase is widely associated with people such as such as Tom Peters and Peter Drucker but the sentiment can be traced back at least to Lord Kelvin, who wrote in 1883: ‘When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely in your thoughts advanced to the stage of science.’ Source: Sir William Thompson, Popular Lectures and Addresses Volume I (1889).

11. The Gross National Happiness website ( sums up the metric as follows: ‘Gross National Happiness is a term coined by His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck in the 1970s. The concept implies that sustainable development should take a holistic approach towards notions of progress and give equal importance to non-economic aspects of wellbeing. The concept of GNH has often been explained by its four pillars: good governance, sustainable socio-economic development, cultural preservation, and environmental conservation. Lately the four pillars have been further classified into nine domains in order to create widespread understanding of GNH and to reflect the holistic range of GNH values. The nine domains are: psychological wellbeing, health, education, time use, cultural diversity and resilience, good governance, community vitality, ecological diversity and resilience, and living standards. The domains represent each of the components of wellbeing of the Bhutanese people, and the term “wellbeing” here refers to fulfilling conditions of a “good life” as per the values and principles laid down by the concept of Gross National Happiness.’

12. J. Stiglitz et al., ‘The Report of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress’ (2009,

13. ‘How the country is doing’ is the phrase used by the ONS in one of their launch documents for the project, ‘Measuring what Matters: National Statistician’s Reflections on the National Debate on Measuring National Well-being’ (ONS, 2011,

14. In ‘The Sustainable Borders of the State’ (Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 2011,, Dieter Helm argues that natural resources should be treated as assets that can create wealth.

15. For Cameron’s ‘every department to be a growth department’ comment, see P. Wintour, ‘Cross-party Heathrow Runway Talks to Begin’ (The Guardian, 2012, For background on removal of transport secretary Justine Greening, see: ‘Cameron Reshuffles His Government: Politics Live Blog’ (The Guardian, 2012, For the G7 call on OPEC see ‘G7 Urges Oil Supply Boost’ (Platts, 2012, The statement was made by the group’s finance ministers and said: ‘We encourage oil-producing countries to increase their output to meet demand, while drawing prudently on excess capacity.’

Chapter 10: The great global slumber

1. For a fascinating and highly readable summary of Daniel Kahneman’s work on various types of cognitive biases, read his bestseller Thinking Fast and Slow (Penguin, 2012).

2. T. Sharot, The Optimism Bias: Why We’re Wired to Look on the Bright Side (Pantheon Books, 2011). An extract is available at

3. R. Dawkins, ‘Sustainability Doesn’t Come Naturally: A Darwinian Perspective on Values’, Inaugural Lecture of the Values Platform for Sustainability (The Environment Foundation, 2001,

4. C. Weeramantry et al., ‘Guardians for the Future: Safeguarding the World from Environmental Crisis’ (The Guardian, 2012

5. Goebbert et al., ‘Weather, Climate, and Worldviews: The Sources and Consequences of Public Perceptions of Changes in Local Weather Patterns’. (Weather, Climate and Society, 2012,

6. Quoted in: C. Rapley, ‘Climate Science: Time to Raft up’. (Nature, 2012,

7. Leiserowitz runs the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. This quote is from B. Gardiner, ‘We’re All Climate-Change Idiots’ (New York Times, 2012,

8. N. Oreskes and E. Conway, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (Bloomsbury Press, 2010). For a summary of much of the book’s content, and a good background on the long history of the science of anthropogenic global warming, watch Oreskes’ Vetlesen Lecture at the University of Rhode Island (2010,

9. Papers published in 2005 showed that some years earlier US under-secretary of state, Paula Dobriansky, had written to GCC saying that President George W. Bush had ‘rejected Kyoto in part based on input from you’. Source: J. Vidal, ‘Revealed: How Oil Giant Influenced Bush’ (The Guardian, 2005,

10. The GCC’s website, after it shut down, said: ‘The Global Climate Coalition has been deactivated. The industry voice on climate change has served its purpose by contributing to a new national approach to global warming. The Bush administration will soon announce a climate policy that is expected to rely on the development of new technologies to reduce greenhouse emissions, a concept strongly supported by the GCC.’ The website can still be accessed via Internet Archive at:

11. You can easily find the commercials online, for example at: The CEI’s funders that year included ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute according to J. Achenbach, ‘The Tempest’ (Washington Post, 2006,

12. The quote is taken from a Heartland Institute press release, available at: This particular campaign was so radical that many sponsors abandoned the organisation, as reported in S. Goldenberg, ‘Big Donors Ditch Rightwing Heartland Institute over Unabomber Billboard’ (The Guardian, 2012,

13. The memo was leaked in 2003. See: O. Burkeman, ‘Memo Exposes Bush’s New Green Strategy’ (The Guardian, 2003.

14. Inhofe’s book about climate change is called The Greatest Hoax (WND Books, 2012). The comment about Nazis came in an interview with Tulsa World in which he compares the push to reduce emissions with the Third Reich (see The figure for his income from oil and gas companies is taken from the Open Secrets database and covers his career since 1989 (see

15. Sean Hannity quote from the video available at Glenn Beck quote from ‘Global Warming’s Real Inconvenient Truth’ (Fox News, 2009,

16. C. Meredith, ‘100 Reasons Why Climate Change Is Natural’ (Daily Express, 2012,

17. Union of Concerned Scientists, ‘Got Science? Not at News Corporation’ (2012,

18. Research carried out by CCR Group, looking at coverage in July 2012 in The Sun, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Daily Mirror. Available at ‘CC Group Finds National Media “Anti-renewables” & Neglecting Industry voice’ ( This survey concurs with another carried out in 2009 by the Public Interest Research Centre, summarised in: D. Clark, ‘How UK Newspaper Coverage Is Skewed against Renewables’ (The Guardian, 2012,

19. G. Monbiot, ‘Top Gear’s Electric Car Shows Pour Petrol over the BBC’s Standards’ (The Guardian, 2011,

20. E. Lipton and C. Krauss, ‘Fossil Fuel Industry Ads Dominate TV Campaign’ (The New York Times, 2012,

21. Various enquiries later cleared them of any scientific misconduct. The most in-depth was ‘The Report of the Independent Climate Change Email Review’ (2010,

22. ‘King’s College London: Global Advisor Questions’ (Ipsos MORI, 2010,

23. ‘Obama More Popular Abroad Than at Home, Global Image of U.S. Continues to Benefit’ (Pew Research Center, 2010,

24. ‘Individual Perceptions of Climate Risks Survey’ (AXA/Ipsos, 2012,

25. Although recent experience in the US suggests that extreme weather events do indeed raise the profile of climate change, it’s not by any means a given that the effects always work as expected. As climate communication specialist George Marshall has noted, such events may sometimes have unexpected side effects – such as encouraging ‘powerful and compelling survival narratives that can overwhelm weaker and more complex climate change narratives’. Source: G. Marshall, ‘Will Hurricane Sandy Increase Concern about Climate Change?’ (Talking Climate, 2012,

26. J. Eilperin and P. Craighill, ‘Global Warming no Longer Americans’ top environmental concern, poll finds’ (The Washington Post, 2012,

27. F. Newport, ‘Americans Endorse Various Energy, Environment Proposals’ (Gallup Politics, 2012, For a list of other polls showing US public support for action see: J. Romm, ‘Gallup: 65 per cent of Americans Have More Guts Than Obama, Support “Imposing Mandatory Controls on CO2 Emissions”’ (Think Progress, 2012,

28. Leiserowitz et al., ‘Extreme Weather and Climate Change in the American Mind’ (Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, 2012,

29. The cover article is P. Barrett, ‘It’s Global Warming, Stupid’ (Bloomberg Business Week, 2012, The cover itself is easily located on Google Images.

30. The experiment was conducted for TV in 2001 by Stanford professor Philip Zimbardo. The subjects ‘remained in the room for an average of 13 minutes doing nothing, despite billowing smoke and ringing alarms’ according to a university press release available at:

31. D. Kahan, ‘Why We Are Poles Apart on Climate Change’ (Nature, 2012,

32. This tendency, which they dubbed the ‘availability heuristic’, is written up in D. Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow (Penguin, 2012).

33. The ‘iron cage of consumerism’ is a reference by Tim Jackson (Prosperity Without Growth, Earthscan, 2009) to Max Weber’s ‘Iron Cage of Bureaucracy’ in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (translated into English 1930).

34. ‘Think Of Me As Evil’ (PIRC, 2011, This interesting report includes a wealth of links to research exploring the various issues around advertising, consumption and values. The lack of academic evidence on advertising driving overall consumption chimes with our own attempts to map a correlation between the amount spent on advertising in a country and the carbon footprint of its citizens. Plotting advertising spend as a percentage of GDP (from: The Spirit Level based on World Advertising Center, ‘World Advertising Trends’, 2002) against total carbon footprints in each country, including imported goods (from: G. Peters et al., ‘Rapid Growth in CO2 Emissions after the 2008–2009 Global Financial Crisis’, Nature Climate Change, 2012,, there is no correlation across OCED nations and if anything a negative correlation across Europe – though not one that looks statistically significant.

35. Cited in the PIRC report, from ‘We Can’t Run Away from the Ethical Debates in Marketing’ (Market Leader, 2010)

36. Income inequality data based on the Spirit Level dataset, which draws on averages from UN Development Program, Human Development Report, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006. Carbon footprint data from G. Peters et al., ‘Rapid Growth in CO2 Emissions after the 2008–2009 Global Financial Crisis’ (Nature Climate Change, 2012, We found no meaningful relationship between the two. It may be possible to argue that there is a very slight correlation across OECD nations, but it isn’t statistically significant. Moreover, when just (more comparable) European nations are looked at, there is a stronger trend in the opposite direction.

37. M. Ravallion et al., ‘Carbon Emissions and Income Inequality’, Oxford Economic Papers, 2000, This study suggested a positive correlation between higher economic equality and higher carbon footprints. It doesn’t draw on data that takes account of imported goods, so it’s findings are of limited value, but the paper does add more weight to the idea that reducing inequality wouldn’t in itself reduce carbon footprints.

38. This claim draws data from Wilkinson et al., ‘Equality, Sustainability, and Quality of Life’ (British Medical Journal, 2010,

Chapter 11: The problem of sharing

1. G. Hardin, ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ (Science, 1968,

2. C. Goodall, ‘The Human Brain Is Made for Environmental Complacency’ (Carbon Commentary, 2009,

3. One early advocate of regulating carbon emissions ‘upstream’ in this way was Oliver Tickell in his Kyoto 2 framework and book. For more information see:

4. SAFE stands for ‘Sequestered Adequate Fraction of Extracted’. The idea was proposed in M. Allen et al., ‘The Case for Mandatory Sequestration’ (Nature Geoscience, 2009,

5. S. Greenfield, ID: The Quest for Identity in the Twenty-First Century (Sceptre, 2008).

Chapter 12: The supporting cast

1. The data behind the chart is as follows:

World Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Gt CO2e per year. Comparisons based on a century timeframe

Carbon dixoide from fossil fuels 31,874 65.9%

Coal 14,343 29.7%

Oil 11,156 23.1%

Gas 6375 13.2%

Carbon dioxide from deforestation 3190 6.6%

Food 1914 4.0%

Timber 1276 2.6%

Carbon dixoide from cement production 1639 3.4%

Methane 6875 14.2%

Fossil fuel burning 2530 5.2%

Enteric emissions 1891 3.9%

Manure 213 0.4%

Rice cultivation 701 1.5%

Burning 413 0.9%

Waste disposal 1134 2.3%

Other 7 0.0%

Nitrous oxide 3159 6.5%

Fossil fuels 272 0.6%

Chemical production 373 0.8%

Manure 1482 3.1%

Indirect from agriculture 265 0.5%

Burning 423 0.9%

Waste 111 0.2%

Indirect from non-agriculture 212 0.4%

F-gases 904 1.9%

Aviation additional effects 698 1.4%

Total 48,339

Sources: Fossil fuel, cement and other industries and land use change CO2 emissions data from: T. Boden et al., ‘Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emissions’ and R. Houghton ‘Carbon Flux to the Atmosphere from Land-Use Changes: 1850–2005’ (both Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, 2010), and G. Peters et al., ‘Rapid Growth in CO2 Emissions after the 2008–2009 Global Financial Crisis’ (Nature Climate Change, 2012).

The split in fossil fuel emissions comes from International Energy Agency and describes 2011 (IEA, 2012, The totals and splits of other gases come from the European Commission’s Emission Database on Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR, 2008,

The drivers of deforestation are difficult to attribute in a definitive quantified way. We have split them 40 per cent timber and logging, 60 per cent agriculture based on analysis in ( This fits with a WWF estimate that 58 per cent of deforestation is due to commercial agriculture. Audsley et al., ‘How Low Can We Go? An Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the UK Food System and the Scope to Reduce by 2050’ (FCRN/WWF, 2009,

2. This was the conclusion in: T. Bond et al.,‘Bounding the Role of Black Carbon in the Climate System: A Scientific Assessment’ (Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 2013, It found that: ‘black carbon [is] the second most important human emission in terms of its climate-forcing in the present-day atmosphere’.

3. Methane’s total impact is longer-lived as it breaks down to form CO2. But this long-term effect is small compared to its intense short-term effect.

4. For a layman-friendly overview on the science and uncertainty around global dimming see: The Met Office and D. Clark, ‘What Is Global Dimming?’ (The Guardian, 2012,

5. One recent paper projected the timing of temperature increases based on IPCC emissions scenarios. In the scenarios closest to what’s happened so far (A1B and A2) over 90 per cent of projections give 2°C within fifty years and a high danger of 3°C. Source: Joshi et al, ‘Projections of When Temperature Change Will Exceed 2°C above Pre-industrial Levels’ (Nature Climate Change, 2011,

6. ‘Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone: Summary for Decision Makers’ (UNEP and WMO, 2011,

7. J. Blackstock and M. Allen, ‘Oxford Martin Policy Brief: The Science and Policy of Short-Lived Climate Pollutants’ (Oxford Martin School, 2012,

8. This process is being developed by Novacem (

9. A. Macintosh and L. Wallace, ‘International Aviation Emissions to 2025: Can Emissions Be Stabilised without Restricting Demand?’ (Energy Policy, 2009, Industry estimates predict that revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) will increase at an average rate of 5 per cent per year for the next twenty years, and cargo traffic by 6 per cent over the same period. These forecasts would equate to an increase in passenger RPK of 180 per cent in the period 2006–2026 and an increase in cargo RPK of 220 per cent.

10. A. Hough, ‘British Engineers Produce Amazing “Petrol from Air” Technology’ (Daily Telegraph, 2012,

11. D. Clark, ‘Could Computerising Air-traffic Control Save Carbon, Time and Money?’ (The Guardian, 2011,

12. For a summary of the physical limits, see David MacKay, Sustainable Energy: Without the Hot Air (UIT, 2008).

13. Based on Civil Aviation Authority data survey of 6500 passengers modelled by Small World Consulting with technical assistance from David Parkinson of Sensus UK. All respondents were residents of Greater Manchester or West Sussex and we assume those two locations tolerably represent the UK. A map and summary are available at: D. Clark, ‘The Carbon Footprint of British Holiday Flights – interactive’ (The Guardian, 2012,

Chapter 13: Food, forests and fuels

1. There were an estimated 963 million undernourished people in the world in 2009, out of a population that was 6.76 billion at the time. Source: Nellemann et al., ‘The Environmental Food Crisis: The Environment’s Role in Averting Future Food Crises’ (UNEP/GRID-Arendal, 2009,

2. The quote is from Professor Carsten Rahbek, Director for the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen. Available at: Rahbek’s view, widely shared in the scientific community, is that thanks to human activity, the Earth is currently in the throes of a sixth period of mass extinction. See also: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, ‘Ecosystems and Human Well Being: Biodiversity Synthesis’ (UNEP, 2005, and Barnosky et al., ‘Has the Earth’s Sixth Mass Extinction Already Arrived?’ (Nature, 2011, The latter paper treats the biodiversity in a more mathematical way and compares it to the ‘big five’ mass extinctions while accepting that this is difficult due to incompleteness of the fossil record and other data. It concludes that while the current crisis is not yet of the scale and rapidity of the previous five, the extinction rate is still worryingly high and deserves rapid action.

3. Deforestation is the main cause of emissions related to land use change. For our purposes the two are more or less interchangeable.

4. One recent paper said that by 2008 deforestation was 12 per cent of total CO2, or 15 per cent if peatlands are included. These proportions are likely to have fallen since given the continued rise of fossil fuel use. Source: G. van der Werf et al., ‘CO2 Emissions from Forest Loss’ (Nature Geoscience, 2009,

5. The figure of 13 million hectares is from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (

6. The United Nations Environment Programme reports that: ‘It takes, on average, 3 kg of grain to produce 1 kg of meat, given that part of the production is based on other sources of feed, rangeland and organic waste … Hence, an increased demand for meat results in an accelerated demand for water, crop and rangeland area.’ Source: Nellemann et al., ‘The Environmental Food Crisis – The Environment’s Role in Averting Future Food Crises’ (UNEP/GRID-Arendal, 2009,

7. Seventy per cent of previously forested land in the Amazon is now livestock pasture with most of the remainder used for animal feed. Steinfeld et al., ‘Livestock’s Long Shadow’ (UN FAO, 2006,

8. P. McMahon, Feeding Frenzy (Profile Books, 2013).

9. OECD – FAO Agricultural Outlook 2012–2021 (

10. Official recent statistics from Brazil are available at: For a summary of changes since 2004, see: A. Vaughan, ‘Amazon Deforestation Falls Again’ (The Guardian, 2012, For an engaging write-up of the work of Brazil’s rapid response teams, see J. Watts, ‘Brazil’s Amazon Rangers Battle Farmers’ Burning Business Logic’ (The Guardian, 2012,

11. M. Berners-Lee, How Bad are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything (Profile Books, 2010). Throughout this book there is quite a bit on the carbon footprint of food and advice for shoppers.

12. All estimates apart from those for rice come from two studies by Williams et al. at Cranfield University, commissioned by the UK’s Department for Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Figures for beef, lamb, chicken, and potatoes come from ‘Comparative Life-cycle Assessment of Food Commodities Procured for UK Consumption Through a Diversity of Supply Chains’ (2008, Figures for pork, eggs and wheat flour come from ‘Determining the Environmental Burdens and Resource Use in the Production of Agricultural and Horticultural Commodities’ (2006, Figures for rice are taken from: Kasmaprapruet et al., ‘Life-cycle Assessment of Milled Rice Production: Case Study in Thailand’ (European Journal of Scientific Research, 2009). These and many more emissions factors for foods can be found collated in Small World Consulting’s work for Booths supermarkets: ‘Booths Greenhouse Gas Footprint Report 2012’ (

13. Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report, 3.2.2: Impacts on regions (IPCC, 2007,

14. Lobell et al., ‘Climate Trends and Global Crop Production since 1980’. (Science, 2011,,

15. Hawkins et al., ‘Increasing influence of heat stress on French Maize Yields from the 1960s to the 2030s’ (Global Change Biology, 2012). The study concludes that ‘to offset the projected increased daily maximum temperatures over France, improved technology will need to increase base level yields by 12 per cent to be confident about maintaining current levels of yield for the period 2016–2035; the current rate of yield technology increase is not sufficient to meet this target’.

16. W. Cheung et al., ‘Shrinking of Fishes Exacerbates Impacts of Global Ocean Changes on Marine Ecosystems’ (Nature Climate Change, 2012,

17. Hansen et al., ‘Public Perception of Climate Change and the New Climate Dice’ (PNAS, 2012, See chapter two for more details.

18. OECD–FAO Agricultural Outlook 2012 (­­­outlook).

19. 9.2 KWhr per litre of biodiesel is 7823kCal.

20. The table opposite is based on figures from the Biomass Energy Centre, UK ( with the right hand column added by us, based on 10.4 KWh per litre of mineral diesel.

21. Numbers taken from J. Lundqvist et al., ‘Saving Water: From Field to Fork – Curbing Losses and Wastage in the Food Chain’ (SIWI Policy Brief, 2008,, which in turn quotes them from V. Smil, Feeding the World: A Challenge for the Twenty-First Century (MIT Press, 2001). Cross-checked them against various other sources.

22. This is a back-of-the-envelope calculation based on World Bank data showing that wheat yields around the world mainly range from 2000 to 7000 kg per hectare (source: We’ve assumed a calorific value of 3400 kCal per kilogram and just over 2000 calories required per person per day.

23. Anseeuw et al. (2011), ‘Land Rights and the Rush for Land’. International Land Coalition. Available at:

24. OECD–FAO Agricultural Outlook 2012 (

Chapter 14: Waking up

1. Quote from speech reported by John Parnell in ‘IEA: Business Complacent about Climate Change’ (, 2013,

2. S. Goldenberg, ‘Revealed: the day Obama chose a strategy of silence on climate change’ (The Guardian, 2012.

3. The speech says, for example, ‘We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.’ The full version is widely available online, for example at:

4. ‘Bigger-than-self problem’ is a phrase used by change strategist Tom Crompton to describe a group of problems including climate change, global poverty and biodiversity loss that are in a distinctly different class from those problems where it is ‘clearly in an individual’s immediate self interest to invest energy and resources to help tackle’. Common Cause: A case for working with Cultural Values (WWF, 2010,

5. L. Evans et al., ‘Self-interest and pro-environmental behaviour’ (Nature Climate Change, 2012, Another interesting experiment found that purchasing green-branded products without caring about the underlying issues made people act more selfishly. The researchers propose that this is due to a so-called ‘licensing effect’, whereby the perception that someone has done a good deed in one circumstance can make us feel less bad about doing a bad deed elsewhere – kind of ethical rebound effect. N. Mazar and C. Zhong, ‘Do Green Products Make Us Better People?’ (Psychological Science, 2010,

6. The politician in question is Tony Abbott, who stated recently: ‘When I say “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead”, I am telling the truth.’ Source: O. Milman, ‘Australian politics cools off on climate change – even as the temperature rises’ (The Guardian, 2013,

7. Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine (Penguin, 2008) is a fascinating and readable survey of the role of shock in creating rapid change. It opens with an account of free-marketeer Milton Friedman, aged 93, seizing on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as the moment to unleash carefully prepared plans to do away with state education. Although Klein’s take on the exploitation of chaos is chilling, some of her insights could be put to positive use.

Chapter 15: Capping the carbon

1. Michael Jacobs is one prominent advocate of this idea. See for example ‘Climate policy: Deadline 2015’ (Nature, 2012,

2. J. Henn, ‘Seattle Mayor Orders City to Divest from Fossil Fuels’ (, 2012,

3. For a summary of the challenges of carbon footprinting products, see M. Berners-Lee, How Bad are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything (Profile Books, 2010).

4. S. Barrett, ‘Rethinking Climate Change Governance and its Relationship to the World Trading System’ (The World Economy, 2011,

5. For an overview of some of the issues see: P. Holmes et al., ‘Border Carbon Adjustments and the Potential for Protectionism’ (Climate Policy, 2011,

6. J. Aldy et al., ‘Climate Change: An Agenda for Global Collective Action’. Prepared for the conference, ‘The Timing of Climate Change Policies’ (Pew Center on Global Climate Change, 2001,

7. C. Knittel, ‘The Energy-Policy Efficiency Gap: Was There Ever Support for Gasoline Taxes?’ (NBER Working Paper, 2013, The study found that ‘Polling evidence [from the 1970s] suggests that consumers preferred price controls and rationing and vehicle taxes over higher gasoline taxes.’

Chapter 16: Pushing the right technologies – hard

1. The precise human impact of the Fukushima nuclear incident is subject to ongoing research and debate. One of the most in-depth studies so far estimated that the all-time death toll from radiation may be 130 additional cancer deaths, with a plausible range of 15–1100. (J. Ten Hoeve and M. Jacobson, ‘Worldwide Health Effects of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident’, Energy & Environmental Science, 2012.) Nuclear advocates point out that this is a relatively small number compared to the tens of thousands of people killed directly by the unprecedented tsunami that caused the incident – despite the fact that the power plant was old, badly designed, built on a fault line and suffered a catastrophic loss of power. Not everyone accepts these numbers, however, and hundreds of additional casualties are reported to have died from non-radiation causes during the effort to evacuate the surrounding area.

2. A ‘unit’ is a kilowatt hour. The Sizewell B figure is for 2011 and taken from EDF ( The solar figure is based on an average daily output of 12 units a day for a 4kW system and half that for a 2kW system. Source: David MacKay, Sustainable Energy: Without the Hot Air (

3. IEA, World Energy Outlook 2011, Box 6.4: The implications of less nuclear power for the 450 Scenario.

4. Telephone interview with Duncan Clark for The Guardian. The full quote runs as follows: ‘I think if you’ve seriously looked at ways of making plans that add up you come to the conclusion that you need almost everything and you need it very fast – right now. You need all the credible technologies that can develop at scale. We’re not certain which will end up being the lowest cost ones so that’s the reason for maintaining a wide portfolio. I don’t think anyone serious would say that we only need nuclear – they would say let’s have lots of nuclear but we’re going to need other technologies too. But similarly I think it’s unrealistic to say we could get there solely with renewables … the costs could be very high if you attempted to do that, and there’s a lot of very strong resistance to many forms of renewable such as wind farms. So I think it’s a sensible thing to do to go for a mixed portfolio.’

5. The 500-year figure is based on current electricity consumption. It was estimated by fast reactor advocate Tom Blees and confirmed by David MacKay, chief scientist at the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change. The reactor in question is the GE Hitachi Prism. For more details see: D. Clark, ‘New Generation of Nuclear Reactors Could Consume Radioactive Waste as Fuel’ (The Guardian, 2012,

Chapter 17: Dealing with land and smoke

1. ‘Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone: Summary for Decision Makers’ (UNEP and WMO, 2011,

2. Grantham Research Institute and D. Clark, ‘What’s Redd and Will It Help Tackle Climate Change?’ (The Guardian, 2012,

3. Anyone can contribute to the scheme at For a recent update on the project see: J. Vidal, ‘Can Oil Save the Rainforest?’ (The Observer, 2013, The biodiversity per hectare figure is from: J. Watts, ‘World’s Conservation Hopes Rest on Ecuador’s Revolutionary Yasuni Model’ (The Guardian, 2012,

4. See for more information or to donate.

5. In a recent paper exploring this idea, the authors wrote that: ‘Both words in the phrase sustainable intensification need to carry equal weight. Intensification, by reducing pressure on land and other resources, underpins sustainability. Equally, food production in the context of a growing population, must ultimately be sustainable if it is to continue to feed people in the future.’ T. Garnett and C. Godfray, ‘Sustainable Intensification in Agriculture: Navigating a Course through Competing Food System Priorities’ (Food Climate Research Network and the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, 2012,

6. A report by the Manchester University Sustainable Consumption Institute found the public not averse to the concept of factory grown meat substitutes in their ‘Lab Chops’ diet scenario. See: A. Bows et al., ‘What’s Cooking? Adaptation and Mitigation in the UK Food System’ (SCI, 2012,

Chapter 18: Making a plan B

1. N. McGlashan et al., ‘Grantham Institute for Climate Change Briefing Paper No. 8: Negative Emissions Technologies’ (2012,

2. V. Smetacek et al., ‘Deep Carbon Export from a Southern Ocean Iron-Fertilised Diatom Bloom’ (Nature, 2012,

3. Estimate by Ken Caldeira at the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Stanford, quoted in: M. Marshall, ‘Geoengineering with Iron Might Work After All’ (New Scientist, 2012,

4. This comment was made by David Keith, a professor of engineering and public policy at Harvard University, in M. Specter, ‘The Climate Fixers’ (The New Yorker, 2012,