China passes US as world's biggest CO2 emitter
The Guardian, Wednesday June 20 2007
China has overtaken the US as the biggest producer of carbon dioxide, a development that will increase anxiety about its role in driving man-made global warming and will add to pressure on the world's politicians to reach an agreement on climate change that includes the Chinese economy.
China's emissions had not been expected to overtake those from the US, formerly the biggest polluter, for several years, although some reports predicted it could happen next year.
But according to figures released yesterday by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, which advises the Dutch government, soaring demand for coal to generate electricity and a surge in cement production have helped to push China's recorded emissions for 2006 beyond those of the US.
The agency said China produced 6,200m tonnes of CO2 last year, compared with 5,800m tonnes from the US. Britain produced about 600m tonnes. But per head of population, China's pollution remains relatively low, about a quarter of that in the US and half that of the UK.
China's surge to 8% more than the US was helped by a 1.4% fall in the latter's CO2 emissions during 2006, which, analysts say, is down to a slowing US economy.