A study published on Friday revealed that China’s annual emissions of greenhouse gases in 2019 exceeded the emissions of all developed countries combined for the first time.
In a comparison with European Union countries, the US and the other members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the study by US think-tank Rhodium Group estimates that China alone contributed 27 per cent of global emissions of CO2 equivalents that year, reports dpa news agency.
CO2 equivalents are a unit of measurement used to standardise the climate impact of different greenhouse gases.
The study said that global emissions reached 52 gigatons of CO2 equivalent in 2019, a 11.4 per cent increase over the past decade.
China’s 27-per-cent share of global emissions was far larger than that of the US, which took second place with 11 per cent.
According to the calculations, India climbed to third place for the first time with 6.6 per cent of global emissions of CO2 equivalents.
The study also indicated that China’s emissions have tripled since 1990.
They have increased by 25 per cent over the past decade.
But due to its large population, China’s per capita emissions have remained considerably lower than those in the developed world.
Rhodium’s study indicates that in 2019, China’s per capita emissions reached 10.1 tonnes, just below average levels of 10.5 tons per capita across the OECD bloc in 2019.
This was still significantly lower than the US, which has the highest per capita emissions in the world at 17.6 tons per capita.
“While final global data for 2020 is not yet available, we expect China’s per capita emissions exceeded the OECD average in 2020, as China’s net GHG emissions grew around 1.7 per cent while emissions from almost all other nations declined sharply in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the authors write.
The study also noted that “China’s history as a major emitter is relatively short compared to developed countries, many of which had more than a century head start.”
Strong economic growth and a large proportion of coal in China’s energy mix are considered to be the main reasons for the increase in its carbon dioxide emissions.
As the world’s largest coal consumer, China has promised new efforts in terms of climate protection.
At the virtual climate summit at the invitation of US President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised two weeks ago that he would first “strictly limit” the increase in coal consumption by 2025 and then “gradually reduce it” by 2030.