It could be a lot less or it could be a bit more, but since this is the middle of the range that everyone agrees on, let’s get on with it and revisit the total when temperatures reach 1.5C.
As my Oxford colleague, the economist Dieter Helm, noted in his book The Carbon Crunch, we may have cut the CO2 actually emitted here, but our reliance on imports means the total emissions attributable to British economic activity have increased by 19 per cent since 1992.For our part, all we need to decide is that we want them to start now, rather than letting them carry on as they are – and let them claim in 20 years’ time that it’s too late, and that they need massive subsidies for carbon burial because they’re too big to fail.You might argue that this would need a cumbersome agreement. All the countries who take this seriously have to do is make it clear we won’t import goods from China unless they have been made using fossil carbon treated in the same way.If we emit the lot, we’re looking at well over 4C of warming, which everyone agrees would be pretty tough. It is perfectly possible to burn fossil carbon and not release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere: you have to filter it out of the flue gases, pressurise it, and re-inject, or ‘sequester’, it back underground. Not efficiency targets, nor even population growth, provided we meet this goal.Unfortunately, turbines, fancy taxes and carbon trading schemes aren’t going to help us do so.Since Kyoto, world emissions haven’t fallen – they’ve risen by 40 per cent.