Chinese person’s carbon footprint equals European’s
July 18th 2012
The average Chinese person's carbon footprint
is now almost on a par with the average European's, figures released on Wednesday [18 July] reveal. China became the largest national emitter of CO2 in 2006, though its emissions per person have always been lower than those in developed countries such as Europe. But today's report, which only covers emissions from energy, by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the European commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) show that per capita emissions in China increased by 9% in 2011 to reach 7.2 tonnes per person, only a fraction lower than the EU average of 7.5 tonnes.
The figure for the US is still much higher – at 17.3 tonnes – though total Chinese CO2 emissions are now around 80% higher than those of America. This widening gap reflects a 9% increase in total emissions in China in 2011, driven mainly by rising coal use, compared with a 2% decline in the US. Total emissions in Europe and Japan also fell last year, by 3% and 2% respectively. But emissions rose across much of the developing world, including India, which saw a 6% increase. As a result, OECD nations now account for only around a third of the global total.
The figures – like most official data on carbon emissions
– are based on where fossil fuels are burned. A recent UK select committee report argued that it was also important to consider the import and export of goods when considering national responsibility for climate change
. This would affect today's data, because previous studies have suggested that almost a fifth of Chinese emissions are caused by the production of goods for export. In addition, the new county data exclude international travel, which accounts for 3% of the global total and is likely to be heavily weighted towards richer countries. Non-CO2 greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide are also excluded.
Read the full article: The Guardian
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