When the great and the good meet to talk about climate change, the dilemma they face is whether the bulk of the responsibility for dealing with it should lie on the shoulders of the rich nations that emitted the most in the past or those of the emerging nations that will push emissions upwards going forward.
That’s not an easy decision to make. It depends on which problem you are trying to solve.
Between 2005 and 2010, the people on this planet emitted about 189,653.5 million metric tons of CO2, according to CDIAC.
According to the DOE, the U.S. was responsible for 34,752 of those mmts, about 18%. China emitted 5,000 more mmts, 39,754, or 21%.
However, in the next 5 years the DOE projects a dramatic change. The U.S. is expected to emit fewer tons of CO2 between 2015 and 2020–only 32,386 mmts. The story is much different for China, which is expected to emit a staggering 65,158 mmts of CO2 between 2015 and 2020.
In the five years between 2015 and 2020, the world is expected to emit 211,077 mmts of CO2, not really that much more than the period between 2005 and 2010–a little more than 10%. But of that total, China will emit 31%.
China’s winning a race that shouldn’t really be run.
In the U.S.A. CO2 emissions peaked in 2007 with 6,000 million metric tons emitted. That has since dropped to 5,363 mmts in 2014, a drop of 10%. Those who first noticed the falling figures put it down to recession, although the DOE was clear that falling GDP only caused about a third of it. The economy has been growing for several years now and emissions kept dropping.
Well, 2014 has a slight uptick, from 5,232 mmts to 5,363, I hope the U.S. economy keeps growing strongly–let’s see what happens to emissions in 2015.
The totals per region are as follows:
Europe peaked in emissions in 2006, with 4,515 mmts. Their 2014 figure was 4,060 mmts, also about 10% down from the peak.
Just to confuse you a little, here’s the total for all OECD countries (including the U.S. and Europe): The OECD peaked in 2008 with 13,817 mmts. The OECD total for 2014 was 12,778, about an 8% drop.
Russia peaked in 2008 and is down about 10% from then. All of non-OECD Europe and Eurasia–the same.
All the growth in emissions comes from China, India, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.
China’s emissions are up 30% since 2007. (And now are 30% of the global total.)
India’s emissions are up 20% since 2007.
The Middle East’s emissions are up more than 20% since 2007.
Sadly, Africa’s emissions are only up 10% (Like India, they need energy so badly…)
Central and South America’s emissions are up 25% since 2008.
So, assuming it is decided that CO2 emissions must drop, someone must foot the bill–whatever fuel source is decided on as replacement(s), facilities must be built and installed, maintained, etc., and the existing fleet of fossil fuel plants will need to be shut down and mothballed. Decommissioning power plants is actually pretty expensive. Shutting down coal mines–not so much.
If you are looking for climate justice, you want reparations for past actions. If you want to stop climate change, you need to change the energy choices of the emerging world. (We cannot tell them in good conscious not to consume energy. That’s just daft. We can perhaps shape their choices of fuel. That’s just common sense.)
Split it down the middle.