China's per capita emissions increased by 9% in 2011 and are now 7.2 tonnes of CO2 per person, which, the report notes, is "similar to the per capita emissions in the European Union". China's per capita emissions are now higher than France, Italy and Spain. International climate negotiations are proceeding on the basis that "developed" countries should take the lead and accept binding targets to reduce emissions under the Kyoto Protocol process, while "developing" countries (including China) can wait to submit to this process from 2020, when a new universal legal instrument is supposed to come into force. This approach is equitable and ethically sound. It is also not feasible. The Dutch report found that global emissions, which had dipped for a few years because of the GFC, increased by 3% in 2011, reaching an "all-time high" of 34 billion tonnes of CO2. The report calculated that at this rate, the world would use up its "carbon budget" for the period 2000-2050 by 2032. In other words, global warming will not be restrained to two degrees if we keep this up. (The report's data covers emissions from energy use and industries, but not forestry or forest fires.) The distinction between "developed" and "developing" countries no longer reflects reality; looking at the figures, the world has to find a way to dramatically rein in China's emissions, and pretty soon, to get back on track. That's the realpolitik. The ethics of the situation is different, and one in which Australia and the US are the villains -- not China. The report grants the perennial high-polluting Australia the dubious honour of having the highest per capita emissions.
A da xiang in the room: new emissions data
A fresh report on the world's greenhouse gas emissions shows that a fundamental overhaul of international climate negotiations is needed to restrain global warming.