As part of its coverage of this week’s Copenhagen climate change summit, the Center for Public Integrity’s International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published an interactive graphic depicting emissions.
Current Emissions (millions of tons): Rapidly-growing China has surpassed the U.S. as the world’s top contributor of greenhouse gases. Manufacturers in the U.S. are pressuring Congress not to commit to emissions cuts — thus forestalling higher energy costs in the future.
Per Capita Emissions (tons per person): Compared to industrialized countries, less developed nations contribute relatively little to global emissions. But some developing countries such as India, with the world’s second highest population and rapid economic growth, could see sharp per-person emissions increases.
Cumulative Emissions (millions of tons): Using totals from the mid-19th century up to the present day, the U.S. and E.U. far surpass other countries in their historical contribution to global warming. The original 1992 UN climate change convention in Rio de Janeiro, which paved the way for the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, called for developed nations to take the lead in cutting emissions.
Emissions Intensity (tons per million dollars of GDP): In many developed countries, increased energy efficiency has resulted in a reduction of greenhouse gas intensity (emissions per unit of gross domestic product). China is pledging to cut its energy intensity but will need to take even more drastic action to prevent disproportionate contributions to future global warming.
- Ben Piven
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