China’s industrial growth has really taken off in the last decade – and new research shows that the per capita emissions of the world’s most populated country are now almost on a par with the European average. While the title of the world’s large emitter has fluctuated between the US and China over the past few years, China’s emissions per person have always been lower than those in other developed countries – however it now looks like that is about to change.
The new figures were released in a report by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the European commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC). The report revealed that per capita emissions in China increased by 9% in 2011 to reach 7.2 tons per person. To put that in perspective, the European figure is 7.5 tons, while the US is much higher at 17.3 tons.
While total Chinese CO2 emissions are now around 80% higher than those of America, the report states that China has seen a shocking 9% increase in total emissions over the past year, mainly due to rising coal use. In comparison, the US emission rate has seen a 2% decline. Total emissions in Europe and Japan also fell last year, by 3% and 2% respectively.
However there are problems with the new report. For one, it doesn’t include the emissions caused by airline travel, which account for 3% of all the emissions in the world (and as you’d expect airline emissions are larger in more developed countries). The report also doesn’t include non-CO2 greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide.
However even when taking imports and international travel into account, it is estimated that the developed world now accounts for less than half of current global emissions. The worst case situation is that China’s emissions may be even higher than reported today by as much as 20%!
If carbon emission rates continue to rise, then it will make it even more difficult for the world’s nations to fulfill their goal of limiting temperature rise to 2C. Scientists believe that if global temperatures get any higher then the effects of climate change will be irreversible.
Via The Guardian