thenextwave

China overtakes US as biggest CO2 emitter

Posted in climate change, environment, international, sustainability, trends by thenextwavefutures on 20 June, 2007

A short post to note that according to the Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency [NMP] China is now the biggest global producer of CO2 in the world, some way ahead of the USA. It’s preliminary data based on analysis of recent energy data from BO and cement production figures. The reasons for the change: increasing fossil fuel use and their rapidly increasing share of the cement production market.

The fossil fuel use can be seen in the following chart – China’s fossil-fuel related emissions are the big red smear in the middle. John Ashton, climate change officer at the Foreign Office, is quoted by Ecologist News as saying that China is now building two new power stations a week (it used to be one).

Fossil fuel emissions

If the point on cement production seems obscure, here’s a quote from the MNP ‘dossier’:

“Cement clinker production is the largest CO2 source among industrial processes, contributing about 4% of global total CO2 emissions from fuel use and industrial activities. However, for Chinawith its large and increasing share in global cement production of about 44% in 2006, the share of CO2from cement production in national total CO2 emissions is almost 9%”.

US emissions fell by 1.4% largely because of economic slowdown (if you really want to reduce CO2 emissions, you need a decent economic downturn). EU emissions (from the EU15) were running at about half of China’s level and showed almost no change. In terms of emissions levels Russia, India and Japan are fourth, fifth, and sixth respectively.

But before naming and shaming starts, it’s also worth observing that Ashton was very clear (in a BBC news story) on why China is the biggest producer of CO2 emissions: “He pointed the finger at rising Western import of cheap Chinese goods, forcing up industrial energy consumption, whilst per capita energy use in the country remained a fraction of that of US or British citizens.”

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