Energy & Environment

China emitted more greenhouse gasses than US, developed world combined in 2019: analysis

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China’s 2019 greenhouse gas emissions exceeded those of the U.S. and other major developed nations combined, according to a report by research firm The Rhodium Group released Thursday.

The report put China’s proportion of worldwide emissions at 27 percent in 2019, followed by the U.S. with 11 percent, India with 6.6 percent and the European Union with 6.4 percent.

While China’s emissions must be viewed in the context of its population, per capita emissions have also nearly tripled over the past two decades to 10.1 tons, according to the report. Despite the increase, Chinese per capita emissions remain well below that of the U.S., which has the world’s highest per capita level with 17.6 tons per capita.

“While final global data for 2020 is not yet available, we expect China’s per capita emissions exceeded the OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] average in 2020, as China’s net [greenhouse gas] emissions grew around 1.7% while emissions from almost all other nations declined sharply in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report states.

Another complicating factor is that China has been a major emitter for a much shorter period than OECD nations in particular, which have collectively admitted four times more cumulative carbon dioxide than China since 1750.

“This overstates the relative role of OECD emissions in the more than 1 degree Celsius increase in global temperatures that has occurred since before the industrial revolution because a large share of annual CO2 emissions is absorbed in the earth’s carbon cycle in the decades after release,” the report states. “But China still has a way to go before surpassing the OECD on a cumulative contribution basis.”

The analysis comes as the Biden administration has sought Beijing’s cooperation on its goals of international emission reductions. Climate envoy John Kerry has repeatedly emphasized that reduction efforts will mean little without a commitment from China and its president, Xi Jinping.

“I’m hopeful. Not confident at this point. I’m hopeful. Because China is a very important player in this,” Kerry told Indian media in April. “We hope that China will come to the table and lead. President Xi has talked about leadership, about China’s role in this.”

Tags China John Kerry The Rhodium Group

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