According to a new report, the annual emissions of China exceeded those of all developed countries combined in 2019, the first time this has happened since national greenhouse gas emissions have been measured.
What is Happening?
- The report, written by the Rhodium Group, an independent research provider, highlights the difficulty that China will have in reducing emissions. According to the report, global emissions reached 52 gigatons of CO2-equivalent in 2019, of which China’s share was more than 14 gigatons. While China’s emissions were less than a quarter of developed country emissions in 1990, they have more than tripled over the past three decades.
The report said, “China alone contributed over 27% of total global emissions, far exceeding the US- the second highest emitter- which contributed 11% of the global total. For the first time, India edged out the EU-27 for third place, coming in at 6.6% of global emissions.”
Based on our newly updated estimates for 2019, global emissions reached 52 gigatons of CO2e in 2019, an 11.4% increase over the past decade. China alone contributed 27% of total global emissions, and the US—the 2nd highest emitter—contributed 11%. 1/5 pic.twitter.com/GXQbAg5Qew
— Rhodium Group (@rhodium_group) May 6, 2021
- While China ’s per-capita emissions have remained significantly lower than those in developed countries, this is changing. In 2019, per-capita emissions in the country reached 10.1 tons, nearly tripling over the past 20 years. While they remained lower in 2019 than the US- 17.6 tons a person- the report predicts that when full 2020 data is available, China’s per capita output will have overtaken the OECD average of 10.5 tons, even as the emissions “from almost all other nations declined sharply in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
- However, China still has a long way to go before it catches up with the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by developed countries. The report says that “since 1750, members of the OECD bloc have emitted four times more CO2 on a cumulative basis than China.”
- Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to make the country carbon neutral by 2060, and to reach peak emissions by 2030.
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Speaking to CNN, Reinhard Steurer, a climate scientist and associate professor at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, said that the West shouldn’t be congratulating itself just yet, saying, “A lot of the stuff we [in the West] consume is produced in China and the emissions are counted into the Chinese carbon emissions record. If you take into account those consumption-based emissions, our record isn’t that good… We should never really blame China as the worst emitter on earth, because quite a lot of their emissions go into our consumption.”
Featured image by: Flickr