A damning report reveals China now emits more greenhouse gases than the United States and the European Union combined, according to findings released ahead of the global climate change summit convened by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The emissions are even more than the EU’s on a per capita (person) basis.
Although world leaders and activists will pressure China to rein in pollution on the much-awaited climate change event in New York this week, many are forgetting how developed countries – and the U.S. in particular – has consistently remained one of the world’s top contributors to global warming.
Sure, the U.S. announced new plans to reduce carbon emissions from power plants in June this year – but is it, along with other first world nations, really in a position to criticize China or any other developing country over failure to solve environmental problems?
Let’s take a look at some facts.
United States tops the list of global warming offenders
Canadian researchers found in January that U.S. alone is the “unambiguous leader,” responsible for about 20 percent of total global warming since industrialization.
According to 2011 statistics, the U.S. ranked second among countries which produced “the most carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emissions (per capita)” as well as “carbon footprints” (when emissions are measured in terms of consumption rather than production).
Moreover, in the list of historic emissions – that stay in the atmosphere for centuries and are more dangerous than current emissions – the U.S. stood first by a wide margin.
Figures from the World Resources Institute revealed that America released, between 1850 and 2007, the most dangerous gases into the environment.
And things didn’t really change in the years that followed.
According to a review published recently in Nature Geoscience, three countries accounted for more than 90 percent of the growth in emissions from 2012 to 2013. China, predictably, topped the list with 57 percent, the United States came in second with 20 percent, and India followed closely with 17 percent.
Just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions
An analysis published in the journal Climatic Change last November concluded that only 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions in history.
Of them, two American multinational energy corporations Chevron and Exxon, along with the British oil company BP plc, were the top three offenders.
“ChevronTexaco was the leading emitter among investor-owned companies, causing 3.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions to date, with Exxon not far behind at 3.2 percent. In third place, BP caused 2.5 percent of global emissions to date,” the report stated.
Although there were reports that Exxon Mobil was “getting serious” about climate risk under duress from investors, there hasn’t been any substantial updates on those claims as yet.
The United States dropped out Kyoto Protocol in 2001
The U.S. is not committed to the Kyoto Protocol, an agreement reached in Japan in 1997, mandating that 38 industrialized nations cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
While Afghanistan became the 192nd participant last June, the U.S. has not ratified the protocol after it dropped out in 2001.
U.S. will not commit to climate change aid for poor nations at UN summit
Just days before the UN climate change summit, calculations by Stockholm Environment Institute scientists and Friends of the Earth suggested that wealthy nations can help prevent catastrophic climate change by making the deepest emission cuts and providing monetary aid to poorer countries.
Ban Ki-moon challenged the 125 world leaders attending the Sept. 23 summit to make “bold pledges” to fund developing countries in order to help them tackle climate change and its challenges.
“The UN has been pressing rich countries to come up with pledges of between $10 billion and $15 billion,” the Guardian stated.
Although developed nations pledged to give the UN’s Green Climate Fund $100 billion a year by 2020, so far only Germany has made a significant contribution with Chancellor Angela Merkel pledging $1 billion over four years.
Obama’s is expected to propose new rules pertaining to cutting carbon pollution from power plants, but funding developing nations isn’t going to be a part of his speech.
“Cash for the Green Climate Fund – to help poor countries move off fossil fuels and protect their people from rising seas, heat waves and other consequences of climate change – will not be part of Obama’s agenda at this UN meeting,” The Guardian reported.