Monday, January 16, 2012

Chinese Per Capita Carbon Emissions May Exceed New Yorkers

For years Chinese global warming pollution has been given a pass of sorts, because per capita Chinese pollution was low and much lower than the average American. Time to rethink the pass is now.

China's total emissions exceeded by 50% in 2010 US emissions, and its per capita emissions may well now be as great as the typical New Yorker. The average New Yorker is responsible for 9 tons of carbon per year, and New York has the lowest per capita emission of any state, a full 8.6 tons less than the American per capita average of 17.6 tons, according to an EIA study of state-level emissions released last week.

China has a population of 1.33 billion people as of 2011 and may have carbon emissions of 11.5 billion tons by the end of 2011. Assuming 1.33 billion people and 11.5 billion tons of emissions, Chinese per capita emissions would be approximately 9 tons--the same as an average New Yorker.

If China has not already exceeded New York's per capita emissions, it will soon. Given current trends, China also will have greater per capita emissions than the US within a decade. Any future international climate treaty must treat China as the number one carbon polluter it is. No more climate passes to China for any reason and most certainly not because 10 years ago China had low per capita emissions.


  1. Concerned ScientistJanuary 17, 2012 at 9:15 AM

    Interesting. Is this people who live in New York City or NY State as a whole? Either way it is skewed by the number of people who live in NYC.

    They mainly walk or take public transportation which is probably where some of the lower emissions come from. But very little gets manufactured in NYC anymore. One problem I always had with that is that in order for New Yorkers to live the way they do, many of their emissions are externalized. All of the products they consume are made somewhere else (and cause emissions) and then transported to NYC (which also creates emissions). In fact some of those Chinese emissions are almost certainly created making things that get transported to and consumed in NYC. So shouldn't it really be calculated based on consumption rather than on actual emissions within the city limits?

  2. The 9 ton number is statewide for NY. California is at 10 tons per capita. The Chinese will emit more than the typical Californian possibly by 2013.