Nearly 30% of Global Emissions Come From China

Image: Andy Enero/Flickr

by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer

China’s greenhouse gas emissions have soared higher than all developed nations combined, according to a new report by Rhodium Group

  • In 2019, China was responsible for more than 27% of total global emissions. 

According to Rhodium’s analysis, China’s emissions have more than tripled over the past 30 years, in part because the country continues to build coal power plants and fund fossil fuel projects beyond its borders. 

On the other hand, the U.S. produced 11% of global emissions in 2019, making it the second largest emitter that year. Looking on a longer time scale, though, the U.S. remains the country with the most emissions over time, having put a quarter of all carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

Why This Matters: The report shows a growing gap between climate promises and actual emissions reductions. China has announced a net zero by 2060 target and is the world’s largest producer of renewable energy, but it is also a leading polluter running more than 1,000 coal plants. Climate Action Tracker rates the country’s current climate plans “highly insufficient” and “are not at all consistent with holding warming to below 2C.” The country’s rising emissions show the need to allow peoples’ standard of living rise without bringing carbon levels up with them.

More from the report: The Rhodium Group’s report breaks down climate-damaging gas emissions, including land use and forests, which are carbon sinks while living and release the gas into the atmosphere when cut down. 

  • India’s emissions topped the entire European Union bloc. (6.6% of the world’s emissions were from India; 6.4% came from the EU.)
  • Indonesia, Russia, Brazil, and Japan round out the top eight contributors to emissions worldwide. 
  • In another first, China’s emissions passed 14 gigatons, a 25% increase in the past decade alone.
  • The U.S. remains the country with the highest emissions per person at 17.6 tons per capita. 

Curbing the coal: While asian countries like Japan and Korea have slowed their financing of new coal projects, China still continues to fund highly polluting energy. 

Even though China had shuttered coal plants domestically before the pandemic, as QZ wrote, “more than 70% of all coal plants built today are reliant on Chinese funding. Since 2013, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has committed over USD $50 billion in state finance to building 26.8 Gigawatts of overseas coal facilities across 152 countries. That’s just the beginning.”

What’s also troublesome is that China has gone on a “coal binge” to supercharge its economic recovery from the pandemic that experts warm will make its goal of peaking climate emissions by 2030 very difficult.

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