Carbon Emissions Success Stories

by Julie Walsh on February 19, 2008

From Prometheus Blog, Roger Pielke, Jr.

Andy Revkin has an interesting post up about per capita emissions in various countries around the world. What countries have a per capita emissions level consistent with an 80 percent reduction from the world's current total emissions?

hypothetical emissions.png

The answer, as can be seen above in an image that I use in lectures (data from US EIA), is Haiti and Somalia. If everyone in the world lived as they do in these two countries, we'd have the emissions challenge licked.

What about the eco-sensitive UK? Sorry, if everyone lived as they do in the UK global carbon emissions would be more than twice the current world total. What about everyone lived as they do in eco-friendly Sweden? Sorry, emissions would be about one and a half times the current world total. United States? Don't even ask. China? just slightly below the current world total (and growing fast).

Bottom line? No country, save Haiti and Somalia, is currently producing emissions at a level even remotely consistent with levels consistent with an 80% reduction in the world's totals. Hence, all of the finger pointing and debates in political negotiations are based on relative hypocrisy ("We're doing relatively less bad that you are!") or faith-based assumptions in the efficacy of future policies ("Our targets are more aggressive than yours!").

There remains huge hurdles to achieving emissions reductions of the sort called for in current political debate. Until we see evidence of it actually occurring, somewhere, we should be very cautious about picking what policies will ultimately achieve results. Instead, we should try a diversity of approaches and see what works.

Posted on February 15, 2008 10:39 AM

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