Azara Blog: China allegedly already produces more greenhouse gas emissions than the US

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Date published: 2008/04/15

The BBC says:

China has already overtaken the US as the world's "biggest polluter", a report to be published next month says.

The research suggests the country's greenhouse gas emissions have been underestimated, and probably passed those of the US in 2006-2007.

The University of California team will report their work in the Journal of Environment Economics and Management.

They warn that unchecked future growth will dwarf any emissions cuts made by rich nations under the Kyoto Protocol.

The team admit there is some uncertainty over the date when China may have become the biggest emitter of CO2, as their analysis is based on 2004 data.

Until now it has been generally believed that the US remains "Polluter Number One".
...
America's per capita emissions are five to six times higher than China's, even though China has become the top manufacturing economy.

Surprise, bigger nations (eventually) have bigger emissions. So what. The per capita emissions are a much more sane measure. On the other hand, population should have some impact on how we view the situation. A country should not be able to expropriate (say) 10% extra emissions for itself just by adding 10% more people. Countries that breed responsibly should not be expected to carry the can for countries that do not.

Even worse than all of this, though, is that emissions should not be counted where goods are produced but where they are consumed. Much of China's emissions are not down to goods for Chinese consumption but for American and European consumption. So the whole concept behind the article is misguided.

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