The EIA Has Resorted to CO2 Intensity in their 2017 WW Forecast

Sep 27, 2017

The EIA just released the International Energy Outlook for 2017 and declared that Carbon Intensity is projected to continue to fall in the Reference Case.

I looked for a definition of and the assumptions contained within the Reference Case, specifically as it relates to the much talked about Clean Power Plan (CPP). There is no mention of, or reference to the CPP in this 2017 International Outlook. Here is what it says.

But, the full implementation of the CPP appears to be built into the forecast and the associated claim of reduced energy intensity.How do I know?

Here is the Reference Case forecast:

The new International Outlook has the U.S. at 5072.6 Mmt in 2050

The EIA 2017 U.S. Energy Outlook for U.S., published in January of this year, shows the Reference Case CO2 emissions in 2050 at 5084.2 Mmt and explicitly included the full implementation of the CPP.

I provided the data for that January Outlook earlier this year on the TMI blog, and on my own website ( Here it is, again:

The Reference Case U.S. forecast, for all intents and purposes, is the same level.

Therefore, the new International forecast suggests that the CPP will be fully implemented in the U.S., but our current political rhetoric does not. I guess the EIA has created some of that “plausible deniability” by referring to “current policies” and “existing government regulations”. The rest of their Reference Case narrative is mumbo jumbo.

I keep referring to this MIT technology Review article and graphic by Mike Orcott, originally published in their 2012 Technical Review. It is still the best graphic that I have seen to dimension the problem.

You can see that the U.S.A portion of the 6℃ scenario is 5.4 Gt (5,400 Mmt). The CPP impact in the U.S. forecast is 481.2 Mmt in 2050. If this value is added to the current EIA forecast, the adjusted U.S. value becomes 5,565.4 Mmt.

This Carbon Intensity language tries to put a happy face on our efforts. As I have stated before, this CO2 Intensity is, more or less, the same metric as CO2 per GDP that both China and India advocate. They are still growing their economies.

If you look below at the U.S.A again in the Orcott graphic, the current 2050 Reference Case forecast level is still 4x the 1,300 Mmt level required to reach 2℃

The worldwide totals shown in the EIA 2017 International Outlook are plotted on the Orcott graph and, if met, suggests a 4.5℃ level.

I have no reason to believe that the rest of the world will be any more successful than the U.S., since they too are in a growth mode and that this also suggests that the 4.5℃ is optimistic.


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