Monday, November 07, 2011

New data on carbon emissions per capita

To follow up Friday's post, I put together a chart of per capita emissions, based on the CDIAC's preliminary 2010 fossil fuel CO2 data and the estimated population. The per capita emissions were calculated using the most up-to-date source of population data I know (Wikipedia!).

The chart includes roughly the top twenty fossil fuel CO2 emitters in the preliminary 2010 data, shown in order from top (China) to bottom. Once again, keep in mind this is preliminary data and does not include other emissions from land use change or emissions of other greenhouse gas emissions.

The chart serves as a reminder that despite large increases in total emissions from fossil fuels over the past several years, countries like India, Indonesia and Brazil still have very low per capita emissions compared to North America. China has become an interesting in between, with per capita emissions still far below that of North America, but rivalling some European countries.

The simple calculation of per capita emissions is potentially misleadings, and raises a number of questions about attribution. If China is manufacturing goods for the North American market, should some of China's CO2 emissions be attributed to North America? Also, how is energy use and emissions distributed within each country? Is the per capita emissions value skewed by a very unequal distribution of wealth? [I'll let the Occupy movement tackle that one]


Anonymous said...

It would be even better to show cumulative production of CO2 by nations for the last century or so.

Anonymous said...

What is also interesting s the rate of growth of China and to a lesser extent India.

China is projected to have per Capita emission greater than the EU 17 and EU25 in just a few years or less... and to MATCH the USA by 2017..

Also see Fred Pearce's article about coal growth for power generation at the Yale forum, reprinted in the Guardian

"China may be the world's largest producer of wind turbines and solar panels, but its coal consumption has doubled in the past eight years. In 2010, an amazing 48 percent of all the coal burned in the world was burned in China. The country's roads are clogged with coal trucks headed from mines to power stations. Earlier this month, there was a 40-mile traffic backup out of the major coal-mining region in Shaanxi province. Trucks were taking a week to get down the main highway, which carries 160 million tons of coal a year. Last year, 10,000 vehicles were stuck for days on another coal road, out of Inner Mongolia.

Meanwhile, India's coal consumption has doubled in 12 years. It is expected to have three times as many coal-burning power stations by the end of the decade. India, like China, has huge coal reserves of its own. But its economy is growing so fast that its miners cannot dig the stuff out of the ground quickly enough, causing a surge in imports. South Africa's Richards Bay is a major supplier, along with Australia and Indonesia, which is likely to become the world's top coal exporter before the decade is out."

Barry Woods

Simon Donner said...

If someone wants to do the cumulative emissions math, CDIAC has some of the necessary data.