This is an excellent motion graph comparing US, China to 2006. To get a good idea of the trend, it’s best to set the slider at the bottom to begin at 1960, since much of the data before then is too old and insignificant to be of much interest. Then hit the “Play” button to watch the trend unfold.
If there is a shortcoming, it’s that the data ends at 2006. In 2008, 2009 the western economies went through a major contraction, and China’s stimulus package helped Chinese factories to continue to operate at a high level of capacity while the OECD economies slowed. So what has happened to carbon emissions between 2006 and 2011, the time of writing for this article?
A few interesting takeaways:
- China’s CO2 emissions at the end of 2009 were higher than the US, Canada combined.
- CO2 emissions are falling fast among the OECD countries, which have suffered slow to negative growth following September 2008
- The main CO2 culprit is China and other developing nations, not the OECD nations
- The big challenge for China’s leaders is how to maintain economic growth and social stability, while keeping CO2 emission within “acceptable parameters”
- Does the Chinese government have a definition of acceptable CO2 parameters? Or is this a slider parameter which changes according to social, political conditions?
- There are other factors at work, such as north China’s drought. Droughts put a strain on other resources, which means that CO2 emissions are likely to go up even faster.
This is all something to think about.