Global carbon dioxide emissions may be rapidly rising, but the U.S. is not to blame, according to newly released data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
U.S. carbon dioxide emissions declined 6% in 2009, and are now 8% below 2000 levels, the EPA reports. Global emissions, by contrast, have risen more than 25% since 2000.
A closer look at global emissions trends shows how futile it would be for the U.S. to impose economically punitive self-restrictions on carbon dioxide.
Underdeveloped nations, which are not required to make emissions cuts under the Kyoto Protocol, accounted for virtually all of the global increase in carbon dioxide emissions since 2000. China, which is one of the nations exempt from Kyoto Protocol emissions cuts, accounted for roughly half the global increase.
In 2005 China was the second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, trailing slightly behind the U.S. By 2009, however, China had left the U.S. far behind, accounting for 24% of global emissions, vs. just 17% for the U.S. When 2010 numbers are released it is a virtual certainty the gap will widen further. Most likely China in 2010 accounted for approximately 26% of global emissions, with the U.S. accounting for roughly 15%.
China has not only surpassed the U.S. in terms of emissions, but in 2010 likely surpassed the emissions of the entire Western Hemisphere. Moreover, Chinese emissions have been rising by nearly 10% per year.
This op-ed first appeared at Forbes.com.