Werner's Blog — Opinion, Analysis, Commentary
Carbon emissions per capita ranking

Country rankings can be useful. When it comes to environmental performance, they can be walls of fame and walls of shame. Who is doing well, and who is not? Can countries learn from each other by observing "best practice"? This is particularly important when it comes to climate change. The range of per-capita emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) is astoundingly wide even among OECD countries. Reliance on fossil fuel for energy generation plays a big role, and of course oil-and-gas-producing countries have an even bigger footprint.

The diagram below shows the ranking of countries by the size of emissions per person, expressed in metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per person in the reference year 2011 (the latest year for which comprehensive cross-country data is available). Only countries with emissiona in excess of 100 Gigatonnes are shown. Canada's position, at 14.1 tonnes per person, is lamentable, and is only slightly better (17% less) than the U.S. position.

Australia's position is even worse than Canada's. Abandoning its carbon tax in 2014, Australia has been backtracking. Imagine Canada dropping its carbon footprint to that of the United Kingdom: from 14 down to 7 tonnes per capita, or just about half. How can we get there?

CO2(e) per capita emissions 0 5 10 15 20 25 metric tonnes per person, 2011 U.A. Emirates 20.4 Saudi Arabia 18.1 United States 17.0 Australia 16.5 Kazakhstan 15.8 Canada 14.1 Russia 12.6 Korea 11.8 Czech Republic 10.4 Netherlands 10.1 Japan 9.29 South Africa 9.26 Germany 8.92 Poland 8.34 Malaysia 7.90 Iran 7.80 United Kingdom 7.09 China 6.71 Italy 6.70 Venezuela 6.42 Ukraine 6.26 Spain 5.79 France 5.19 Argentina 4.56 Thailand 4.53 Turkey 4.38 Iraq 4.20 Uzbekistan 3.91 Mexico 3.88 Algeria 3.32 Egypt 2.64 Indonesia 2.30 Brazil 2.19 Vietnam 1.97 India 1.66 Pakistan 0.941

Source: World Bank, Time Series EN.ATM.CO2E.PC.

It is also rather interesting to look at the changes in per-capita emissions over the last decade. The next chart shows how much changed between 2001 and 2011. Some countries have clearly increased their emission footprint, notably oil producers Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia, but also China and Korea. Because of China's size, this is the most important increase. Among the countries that have reduced their footprint are several European Union countries: France, italy, Germany, Spain, Czechia, and the United Kingdom. Notably, both the United States and Canada had per-capita reductions of nearly 3 tonnes per person per year. The largest change occured in the United Arab Emirates, whose per-capita emissions dropped by 11 metric tonnes per capita per year. Unfortunately, the United Arab Emirates remain the largest per-capita emitter with over 20 metric tonnes. The world remains a long way from decarbonization, and oil-producing countries are particularly challenged.

Change in CO2(e) per capita emissions -15 -10 -5 0 5 10 metric tonnes per person, 2001-2011 difference Kazakhstan 5.86 Saudi Arabia 4.57 China 3.97 Korea 2.33 Malaysia 2.18 Russia 1.97 Iran 1.83 Turkey 1.35 Thailand 1.35 South Africa 1.18 Argentina 1.02 Uzbekistan -1.02 France -1.03 Italy -1.20 Germany -1.45 Spain -1.52 Czech Republic -1.66 United Kingdom -2.15 United States -2.64 Canada -2.85 U.A. Emirates -11.1
Posted on Sunday, May 1, 2016 at 13:30 — #Environment
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