China emissions exceed all developed nations combined
BEIJING, May 7: China now accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than all of the world's developed nations combined, according to new research from Rhodium Group.
China's emissions of six heat-trapping gases, including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, rose to 14.09 billion tons of CO2 equivalent in 2019, edging out the total of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development members by about 30 million tons, according to the New York-based climate research group.
The massive scale of China's emissions highlights the importance of President Xi Jinping's drive to peak carbon emissions before 2030 and reach net-zero by 2060. China accounted for 27% of global emissions. The U.S., the second biggest emitter, contributed 11% while India for the first time surpassed the European Union with about 6.6% of the global total.
Still, China also has the world's largest population, so its per capita emissions remain far less than those of the U.S. And on a historical basis, OECD members are
still the world's biggest warming culprits, having pumped four times more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than China since 1750.
"China's history as a major emitter is relatively short compared to developed countries, many of which had more than a century head start," the researchers said. "Current global warming is the result of emissions from both the recent and more distant past."
Scientists warn that without an agreement between the US and China it will be hard to avert dangerous climate change. China's emissions more than tripled over the previous three decades, the report from the US-based Rhodium Group added.
The Asian giant has the world's largest population, so its per person emissions are still far behind the US, but the research said those emissions have increased too, tripling over the course of two decades.
China has vowed to reach net-zero emissions by 2060 with a peak no later than 2030.
President Xi Jinping reiterated his pledge at a climate summit organised by US President Joe Biden last month.
"This major strategic decision is made based on our sense of responsibility to build a community with a shared future for mankind and our own need to secure sustainable development," President Xi said at the time.
However, China is heavily reliant on coal power. The country is currently running 1,058 coal plants - more than half the world's capacity.
Under the Paris accord, agreed in 2015, 197 nations pledged to limit global warming to below 2C. However, the world is far from meeting that commitment.
Central to the Paris Agreement are Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). These are targets intended to cut emissions. -BBC