From: David A Gabel, ENN
Published September 30, 2011 11:56 AM

Study: China to Surpass US Per Capita Emissions by 2017

The biggest polluters in the world are known to be the United States of America and China. In 2007, China overtook the United States for the dubious role of world's greatest carbon emitter. However, because the United States is so much wealthier per capita than the People's Republic, individual US citizens could claim that they burned more fossil fuels. According to a new study, this won't last for long. At their current pace, by 2017, the average Chinese citizen will surpass the US citizen as the world's greatest emitter of carbon.


From 1990 up to this point, carbon emissions in China have gone from 2.2 tons per capita up to 6.8 tons. This is roughly equal to per capita emissions in Italy. From 2003, in just 8 years, China has doubled its total carbon emissions. During that same period, US per capita emissions have decreased from 19.7 tons to 16.9. While the US still has a commanding lead in the race for the worst, the trends are such that China will overtake the US by 2017.

The recent study was conducted by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and sponsored by the European Commission. It analyzed long term trends in global carbon emissions for both OECD and developing nations. In general, the richest economies in the world are slowly decreasing their overall emissions while developing nations like China, India, and others are increasing.

The study found that developed countries with the exception of the US are on track to meet targets set in the Kyoto Protocol. However, even since the recession began in 2008, the US has reduced its emissions by about 7.5 percent compared to 1990 levels.

China is growing at such an incredible rate that, despite doubling their renewable energy capacity for the sixth consecutive year, their carbon emissions jumped ten percent in 2010. India is also following in China's footsteps, although at a lesser rate. India is currently the third largest CO2 emitter.

The current rankings of carbon emissions by country:

1) China
2) United States
3) India
4) Russia
5) Japan
6) Germany
7) Canada
8) Iran
9) United Kingdom
10) South Korea

Link to published study:

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