China's coal dependence and hot economy = CO2 emissions. Photo ninnet @ flickr
In a report released Friday by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, China has stepped into first place as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, edging ahead of the United States. China's supernova economy contributed to an eight percent rise in its domestic emissions, which in turn makes up two-thirds of the global growth of emissions last year. That trend is likely to continue due to China's massive use of coal-fired energy and its huge cement industry.
The U.S. still maintains the highest per person CO2 emissions (19.4 tons), followed by Russian (11.8 tons), and Western Europe (8.6 tons) compared to China's 5.2 tons per inhabitant. But China now releases 24% global GHG emissions compared to the US' 21%. What's unfortunate is that with one year to go until UN-sponsored talks in Copenhagen try to cobble together a Kyoto Protocol replacement treaty, the world's leaders aren't coming up with the kind of innovative ideas needed to creatively reduce everybody's emissions. As Yvo de Boer, executive secretary for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change puts it:
"With a little more than a year to go to Copenhagen, the challenge to come to that agreement remains daunting."
China Open To Post-Kyoto Framework