Aside from the notion of whether climate change is an issue, or whether man-made CO2 emission remediation will make a difference, just how responsible is China for CO2 emissions?
Many believe that China bears responsibility for climate change even when historic emissions are taken into account, new figures have shown, despite Beijing‘s long-standing attempt to blame the West’s industrial revolution for the crisis.
The country emerges as the world’s second-largest polluter even when carbon emissions dating back to 1850 are included in the total – the date by which most Western nations had industrialized and become reliant on fossil fuels for at least part of their economic output. See the following historical chart.
The data gives proof to the lie, often repeated by Beijing, that western nations bear ‘historic responsibility for the crisis. It was the argument used last week by China’s climate minister as he defended the country’s weak climate commitments – ahead of a likely no-show by Xi Jinping at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.
‘Developed countries emitting greenhouse gas without any restraint over the past few hundred years since the industrial revolution contributed to the climate change problem today,’ Li Gao said.
Fresh analysis – by think-tank Carbon Brief – shows that China did indeed industrialize decades after the West but has grown so ferociously in recent years that its cumulative carbon output has now outstripped all other nations with the exception of the US.
Russia, Brazil, and Indonesia make up the remainder of the top five historic emitters – countries which have also pushed back hard on plans to rapidly cut emissions and reach net zero by 2050.
Remarkably, China remains in second place even when ‘consumption emissions’ – carbon emitted producing goods for other countries – is taken into account, challenging an oft-cited notion that global CO2 rankings unfairly punish it for churning out products bought by the greedy West.
Only when taking into account carbon emissions per person does China drop out of the top 20 rankings. Perhaps surprisingly, it is New Zealand that tops the list of carbon-producing countries throughout history when viewed in terms of the total population. Canada tops the list for carbon produced per person in the last year.
Meanwhile from Statista – The already ambitious global carbon emission reduction goals were dealt a significant blow as China, has recently pledged to end all future foreign coal power projects, announced that they would be further committing to domestic coal expansion – likely pushing back the year the country expects to reach peak emissions (currently 2030), referencing a new “phased timetable and roadmap for peaking carbon emissions.”
China made a big splash at the United Nations General Assembly, with President Xi Jinping announcing the country would stop building new coal plants abroad, which, if fulfilled, would cut off all international public support for the dirtiest fossil fuel. But China is not ready to grapple with curbing its appetite at home.
China has unreliable government monitoring agencies. Failing that, American citizens will bear the economic burdens, while China will reap the rewards of economic growth. Considering the economy’s role in supporting America’s global political influence and military power, and the exigent challenge China poses to that power, Biden should proceed cautiously, not trusting what he cannot verify. See more here – the Paris accord was a gift to China.
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