According to a recent EU report, annual global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions increased by 3% in 2011. I'll quote the summary from Green Car Congress.
Global emissions of CO2 increased by 3% last year according to the annual report Trends in global CO2 emissions released by the EC Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL). At 3%, the 2011 increase in global CO2 emissions is above the past decade’s average annual increase of 2.7%.
Emissions in the advanced (OECD) economies shrank, but that decline was more than compensated for by rises in China and India.
Weak economic conditions, a mild winter, and energy savings stimulated by high oil prices led to a decrease of 3% in CO2 emissions in the European Union and of 2% in both the United States and Japan.
Emissions from OECD countries now account for only one third of global CO2 emissions—the same share as that of China and India combined, where emissions increased by 9% and 6% respectively in 2011. In China, the world’s most populous country, average emissions of CO2 increased by 9% to 7.2 tons per capita—within the range of 6 to 19 tons per capita emissions of the major industrialized countries.
In the European Union, CO2 emissions dropped by 3% to 7.5 tons per capita. The United States remain one of the largest emitters of CO2, with 17.3 tons per capita, despite a decline due to the recession in 2008-2009, high oil prices and an increased share of natural gas.
According to the report, the top emitters contributing to the global 34 billion tons of CO2 in 2011 are:
- China (29%)
- the United States (16%)
- the European Union (11%)
- India (6%)
- the Russian Federation (5%)
- Japan (4%)
Here's the misleading emissions-per-capita graph.
This report was issued by Europeans, so showing per-capita emissions makes them look virtuous, especially compared to those consumption-crazy devils in the United States, where each person emits 17.3 tons on average. In the EU, per-capita emissions are only 7.5 tons of CO2. China is just now reaching EU levels on a per-person basis, and Russia looks especially bad because their emissions come in at about 13 tons per-capita.
However, on an absolute basis, the picture looks very different. Russia emits only 5% of the CO2, while the EU emits 11%. At 16%, the United States still comes in an impressive thirteen percentage points below China on an absolute basis. Therefore, despite outrageous over-consumption by the 300 million people living in the United States, it is easy to see what the real problem is, a problem which is no doubt conspicuously absent from the JRC report.
There are way too many humans trying to consume way too much stuff.
And that's all you really need to know about this report.