An analysis of the world’s top total polluters since 1850 found that China is second to the United States in emissions, despite only industrializing relatively recently — contradicting Beijing’s contention that Western nations are historically responsible for climate change.
Carbon Brief released a study on the countries most responsible for climate change this month that showed, while the US is the top cumulative discharger of carbon dioxide gases with 20 percent of the global total, China is in second place with 11.4 percent of emissions due primarily to its dependence on coal.
The study, which analyzed data going back to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to 2021, also found the Chinese Communist Party’s output of pollutants has increased significantly in the past 20 years.
The report acknowledges that China industrialized later than Western nations, but has made up for lost time since.
”China’s CO2 output has more than tripled since 2000, overtaking the US to become the world’s largest annual emitter, responsible for around a quarter of the current yearly total,” Carbon Brief, a British-based website that tracks climate science, said in its report.
Russia comes in third, followed by Brazil and Indonesia, Germany, India and the United Kingdom, with Japan and Canada rounding out the top 10.
The data compiled by Carbon Brief contradicts comments made by China’s director of climate change at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, who blamed climate change on Western nations’ use of fossil fuels in the industrial age.
Li Gao told ITV News last week that modern day environmental problems stem from the Industrial Revolution when greenhouse gas emissions went unchecked.
“We can see who should shoulder the responsibility for the climate change today,” Li told the news outlet.
“Developed countries emitting greenhouse gas without any restraint over the past few hundred years since the Industrial Revolution contributed to the climate change problem today,” he said, adding that “there is no way developed countries can shake off their responsibilities.”
Li said developed nations like the US should do more to cut emissions by offering financial aid and technology to poorer nations.
China has relied on fossil fuels to power its manufacturing-based economy, increasing its consumption of coal from 527 metric tons in 1990 to 1,951 metric tons in 2019.
“Since 2011, China has consumed more coal than the rest of the world combined. China’s industrial sector is by far the largest consumer of coal. In 2018, the industrial sector accounted for around two thirds of China’s total energy consumption and consumed more than 95 percent of the country’s coal,” the Center for Strategic & International Studies found.
China’s Xi Jinping, who told the United Nations General Assembly the country would begin to cut its use of coal before 2026 and be carbon neutral before 2060, is expected to be a no-show at a climate summit in Scotland that begins this weekend, prompting speculation that he will be making no further concessions to combat climate change.
Xi has not left China since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also will not attend.
President Biden will attend the summit in Glasgow, as will the leaders of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters.
With Post wires