China takes big lead in CO2 emissions race

February 1, 2011

The Department of Energy released yesterday its estimates for global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from energy use:

  • Global CO2 emissions from energy use were 30.45 billion metric tons.
  • U.S. emissions were 5.42 billion tons, about 17.8% of global emissions (2nd place).
  • China’s emissions were 7.71 billion tons, about 25.3% of global emissions (1st place).
  • India has overtaken Russia for third place (1.60 vs. 1.57 billion tons).
  • South Korea’s growing emissions (528 million tons in 2009) is on the verge of passing Canada’s declining emissions (541 million tons).
  • North Korean emissions increased 14.5% to 79 million tons from 2008 to 2009, while U.S. emissions declined 7.1% during that period.

For those who wonder why we can’t be more like the Chinese, here are a few more facts:

  • US GDP in 2009 was $14.1 billion according to the World Bank.
  • China’s GDP was a mere $4.98 billion.
  • For every ton of CO2 emitted, the U.S. added $2.60 to GDP.
  • For every ton of CO2 emitted, China added about $0.64 to its GDP.
  • The figures for France, Japan, Germany and the UK are $6.68, $4.62, $4.35 and $4.18, respectively.

While the U.S. is not the most efficient user of energy, as measured in terms of CO2 emissions, it is way ahead of China. There can be no doubt that heavy reliance on nuclear power by France (79%)  and Japan (61%) is what makes those economies so efficient emissions-wise.

(h/t Willie Soon for CO2 data)

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