Amsterdam: China has overtaken the United States as the top emitter of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, because of surging energy use amid an economic boom. This was confirmed by a Dutch government-funded agency which released a report on 20June.
This has come as a bit of jolt as environmentalits so far had been harking that China would surpass U S only in the coming years. The rise to number one emitter now clearly will put pressure on Beijing to do more to help a UN-led fight against global warming.
“China’s 2006 carbon dioxide emissions surpassed those of US by 8%,” the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency said in a statement. In 2005, it said China’s emissions were 2% below those of the United States.
“With this, China tops the list of CO2 emitting countries for the first time,” it said. Almost all scientists say rising amounts of carbon dioxide will bring more droughts, floods, desertificiation, heatwaves, disease and rising seas.
The report, based on data on energy use and cement production, reckoned China’s carbon dioxide emissions totalled 6.2 billion tonnes in 2006. Of the total, 550 million tonnes was from cement, a main source of industrial emissions.
US emissions totalled 5.8 billion tonnes last year, of which 50 million tonnes was from cement. The report also cited that the European Union was in third place in the ranking and was ahead of Russia, India and Japan.
The International Energy Agency (IEA), which advises rich nations, said in April that China was likely to surpass the United States as the top carbon dioxide emitter in 2007 or 2008.
The data for the study was based on fossil fuel use estimated by BP cement data from the US Geological Survey and energy use data until 2004 from the IEA. Carbon dioxide accounts for about 75% of greenhouse gases.
China’s economy has registered double-digit growth for four years in a row and expanded by 11.1 percent in the first quarter compared to a year earlier due to booming investments and exports.
With a population of 1.3 billion, China’s per capita emissions are a quarter of those in the US, with 300 million people. US President George W Bush has urged China and other developing nation to step up efforts in this direction.
The Group of Eight leading industrial nations agreed at a summit in early June to make “substantial cuts” in emissions and to try to work out a global treaty by 2009 to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. Kyoto binds 35 rich nations to cut emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by 2008-12.