China’s Per Capita Emissions Could Rival U.S.’s By 2017


The carbon footprint for the average Chinese individual is quickly approaching levels common in the world’s industrialized nations and, if current trends continue, could match or exceed U.S. levels by 2017, a new report says.

Since 1990, CO2 emissions in China have increased from 2.2 tons per capita to 6.8 tons, roughly equal to those in Italy and greater than in France, according to a report conducted by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and sponsored by the European Commission.

During that period, CO2 emissions in the U.S. decreased from 19.7 tons per capita to about 16.9 tons, according to the report.

While China passed the U.S. as the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in 2007 — and has doubled its total carbon emissions since 2003 — Chinese officials have argued that the steep rise is reasonable for a developing nation on a per-person basis. But some conservationists now contend that, based on its CO2 emissions, China should be treated as a developed nation in future climate change talks.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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