China’s Per Capita Carbon Emissions Match EU’s

According to a new report (.pdf) by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, China’s per capita carbon emissions have reached a similar level to the EU’s. Global total emissions continue to rise, with the balance increasingly shifting from developed to developing countries. From PBL:

Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) increased by 3% last year, reaching an all-time high of 34 billion tonnes in 2011. In China, average per capita CO2 emissions increased by 9% to 7.2 tonnes CO2. This is similar to per capita emissions in the European Union.
In comparison, in 2011, the United States was still one of the largest emitters of CO2, with 17.3 tonnes in per capita emissions. […]
The increase in China’s CO2 emissions was mainly due to a continued high economic growth rate, with related increases in fossil fuel consumption. This increase in fuel consumption in 2011 was mainly driven by the increase in building construction and expansion of infrastructure, as indicated by the growth in cement and steel production. Domestic coal consumption grew by 9.7% and coal import increased by 10%, making China the world’s largest coal importer, overtaking Japan.

The data are subject to several caveats, however, as The Guardian’s Duncan Clark reports. For example, the figures count emissions from a product’s manufacture against Chinese workers rather than European consumers.

The figures published on Wednesday – 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

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One Response to China’s Per Capita Carbon Emissions Match EU’s

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