Climate Change

Then and now: Prime polluters

China, US and EU-27 (excluding the UK) currently emit over 50% of the world’s 36.44 GtCO2 Africa and India, each with 17% of the world’s population, contribute just 4% and 7% The developing world has a right to economic growth without pollution, which requires unprecedented funding

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 26 October 2021

The world released 36.4 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 in 2019 — the last year for which global data for the GHG is available — in fossil fuel emissions and from the cement sector. Of this, China alone emitted 28 per cent of the GHG. Add the United States and the European Union-27 (minus the United Kingdom), and the countries account for 50 per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions. If we add Russia, Japan, UK, Canada and Australia, the share goes up to 62 per cent.

India, which is the fourth largest (third, if we do not account for EU-27 as a group), contributed some 2.62 Gt of CO2 in 2019 — compared to China’s 10.17 GtCO2 and US's 5.28 GtCO2. It added 7 per cent to the world’s CO2 emissions in 2019.

The entire continent of Africa, with 17 per cent of the world’s population, contributed a mere 4 per cent to the emissions in 2019.

Source: Our World in Data

Let’s look at it from another perspective. India and Africa are quite low in the human development index. They need to grow economically, provide energy to their people, industrialise and urbanise. All of this will add to the emissions because CO2 emissions are still directly linked to a country’s gross domestic product. And this when the world is running out of carbon budget — the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2021 report has already declared “code red” and said that humanity is hurtling towards a climate catastrophe.

We, therefore, have two choices: Either accept climate apartheid or enhance efforts to ensure economic growth without pollution, so that the developing world is given the right to develop. The latter option means funding the transformation in these nations at a scale never done before.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.