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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press When Discussing Greenhouse Gas Emissions It is Important to Point Out that China Has Four Times as Many People as the United States

When Discussing Greenhouse Gas Emissions It is Important to Point Out that China Has Four Times as Many People as the United States

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Tuesday, 11 June 2013 04:27

Not all readers would necessarily have this fact in their head when they see the Post telling them:

"China remains the largest contributor of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, with about a quarter of global emissions."

On a per person basis, the United States swamps China in terms of emissions. If there is any country that people concerned about global warming should be angry at, the United States would top the list by a long shot.

Comments (9)Add Comment
...
written by Last Mover, June 11, 2013 6:15

Exactly. That's about as stupid as reporting that America has a positive GNP growth rate and therefore is not in a recession, yet all the gains from growth in last few years have been going to the 1% at the same time the "recovery" is jobless.
...
written by JSeydl, June 11, 2013 8:28
Last Mover: A combination of factors determine whether a country is in recession, not just GDP/GNP growth.
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written by David M, June 11, 2013 10:22
And China's population isn't even what's driving a good portion of the country's emissions. Estimates vary, but somewhere between 20% and 35% of Chinese CO2 comes from the manufacturing of products for export.
Chastising China for CO2 is like complaining that Hawaii accounts for a far larger portion of our nation's pineapple related waste than Massachusetts.
Have You Seen Beijing Lately?
written by Juan, June 11, 2013 10:53
China pumps out more carbon emissions than any country. It is almost impossible to breath there because of the thick smog. Many of my young Chinese friends developed cancers that are likely related to the air pollution. Pitting one country over the other on who should be held more accountable for pollution / global warming is ludicrous and does not advance the discussion on how to reduce harmful pollutants -- regardless where it comes from.
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written by AlanInAz, June 11, 2013 10:58
There is more than one way of looking at emissions data. If we look at emissions per unit of GDP corrected for PPP, then the US is about twice as efficient as China and half as efficient as most of Europe. I think we can say that both countries can do much better.
The goal of international agreements is to hold countries accountable for their pollution
written by Dean, June 11, 2013 11:05
Juan,

I have never been Beijing, but I have heard accounts of the pollution. However the smog there is not what is causing global warming. It is GHG emissions, and it is absurd to imagine that China and other developing countries would accept an arrangement where they are held to far lower emissions per person than the U.S. -- if people push this, then they are not being serious about combating global warming, because a deal like this will not happen.
Yada Yada Yada
written by John Parks, June 11, 2013 8:31
Compliance professionals, propagandists, lobbyists, charlatans, and yes, I include our elected representatives in one or more of these categories, have a vested interest in pointing out the potential "sins" of others to avoid scrutiny.

E.g. China has pollution! China might be hacking our computers!

"If you want to get our of this PRISM, you've got to refract."

I put the above phrase in parenthesis because it is not mine. I stole in from the graffiti on the bathroom wall at Adair's Bar and Grille, Ft Worth, Tx. in 1974.

It just seems appropriate in this day and time.

crap!
written by John Parks, June 11, 2013 8:41
And then there was a typo!
"our" = "out"
China is just an excuse....
written by Alex Bollinger, June 12, 2013 7:30
not to do anything in the US. People bring it up in discussions of global warming - like, "China and India are the real culprits... get them to stop before trying to get the US to!" - and it's more about derailing the discussion than anything else.

Every country needs to get serious about this, quickly. And, yes, emissions per person should be equal under whatever regulations get formulated.

But so long as there is an excuse to ignore the problem, people will continue to do so.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.

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