China surged past the United States to become the #1 carbon emitter in 2006. Currently (2019 data from BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy), its CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel burning are over 9,800 million metric tons (“tonnes”) a year. That is nearly double U.S. emissions for the same year, and a staggering 29 percent of total 2019 world CO2 emissions from burning coal, oil and gas. China’s 2019 emissions are nearly triple the level from 20 years earlier (3,294 million tonnes, also from the BP Review)
This is a less upbeat picture than what we portrayed in our most recent post on China, Why China’s Emissions Triumph Surpasses the United States’?, from 2017. That post highlighted four grounds for optimism on China:
1. China’s carbon emissions were well under half of U.S. emissions on a per capita basis. U.S. per capita CO2 emissions of 15.4 metric tons in 2016 were nearly two-and-a-half times as great as China’s 6.4 tonnes per person in the same year, owing to the 4-to-1 population disparity.