China’s Per Capita Emissions Have Exceeded Those Of Europe

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Just months before the world would sit down in an annual ritual to discuss the future of the global effort to address the issue of climate change, some critical information regarding the standings of countries in terms of greenhouse pollution has been released which can potentially have a significant impact on the course of the negotiations.

Industrial Emissions Smoke Stacks

China has been the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases for a while now, and India, with its booming population and economy, has been firm as the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases. But these countries have, on a number of occasions, justified their decision not to accept binding emission reduction targets by stating that their per capita emissions are significantly lower than those of the developed countries. That situation has now changed, the Global Carbon Project reports.

According to the data released by the Global Carbon Project for 2013, China’s per capita emissions have exceed those of the 28 EU member states. China’s per capita emissions now stand at 7.2 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e) compared to 6.8 tCO2e of EU-28 nations. The global per capita emissions are much lower at 5 tCO2e.

Europe’s per capita emissions have been on the downward trend since the introduction and implementation of an emissions trading scheme. EU’s per capita emissions fluctuated between a range of 8 and 9 tCO2e for 18 years between 1990 and 2007, but fell by 15% between 2007 and 2013.

Between 1990 and 2002, the per capita emissions in China rose by 33% to 2.8 tCO2e. However, following the economic boom in the Asian country in the early 2000s, the per capita emissions increased by more than 2.5 times to reach 7.2 tCO2e in 2013.

India’s per capita emissions have more than doubled from 0.8 tCO2e in 1990 to 1.9 tCO2e but are expected to overtake EU’s per capita emissions by 2019.

There is no change, however, in the standing of nations in terms of absolute greenhouse gas emissions. China, the United States, the EU, and India remain the top four emitters respectively. China, the United States, and India contributed a total of 51% to global GHG emissions in 2013. Interestingly, among the top 10 emitters, only the EU and China (and the US, if one considers California and the RGGI) have some form of emissions trading scheme operational.

When the negotiators from almost 200 countries start discussions later this year in Peru at Conference of Parties 20, one can expect renewed calls for expansion of market-linked emission reduction mechanisms across the world. These distributed and currently unlinked carbon markets could eventually be combined to form a global carbon market when a potential new climate change treaty is enforced at the beginning of the next decade.

Image Credit: coal pollution Martin Muránsky | Shutterstock

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Mridul Chadha

Mridul currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.

Mridul Chadha has 425 posts and counting. See all posts by Mridul Chadha