US and China are the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters!

US and China are the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters. China’s emissions are more than double those of the US. While judging a country’s climate credentials, there are many factors to be considered. As the world leaders gather for COP26, the US and China’s plans will be the major highlight. 

China overtook the US in 2006 as the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. In 2019, China’s greenhouse gas emissions were nearly 2.5 times that of the US and more than the world’s developed nations combined. In 2019, China emitted 14.1 billion metric tons, more than a quarter of the world’s total emissions. The US emitted 5.7 billion tons that are 11% of total emissions. India talks 6.6% and the European Union 6.4%. When scientists measure greenhouse gas emissions, they consider the total emissions that a nation releases into the air on their land every year. 

No country in the world has put more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the US. China is by far the biggest emitter today, but it was not the same before.  Emissions that were released 100 years ago have caused the global warming of today. The world has already warmed by 1.2 degrees Celsius since the start of the Industrial Revolution. According to scientists, the global temperature should be kept to 1.5 degrees to stave off the worsening impacts of the climate crisis.

In 2000, China’s carbon emissions began accelerating as the country rapidly developed. Countries like the UK, the US, and many of Europe are in the process of industrializing and in the process contributing to climate change.  In the developed nations, many comforts of living have come at the cost of the climate. China is a massive country with 1.4 billion people, so that it would emit more than smaller nations overall.  The average Chinese person emits quite a bit less than the average American. In 2019, China’s per capita emissions reached 10.1 tons, and the US got 17.6 tons.

According to Climate Transparency’s 2021 report, Americans earn more money, fly more than the average Chinese person, and own more gas-guzzling cars. In the past 20 years, China’s per capita carbon footprint has been rapidly catching up with those of wealthier nations. In 2020, China’s domestic energy mix consisted of 87% of fossil fuels, 60% from coal, 20% from oil and 8% from natural gas. The energy mix consists of 80% of fossil fuels, 33% oil, 36% of natural gas, and 11% of coal in the US. 

Fewer emissions are produced by natural gas than coal, but it is still harmful to the climate. There are growing concerns that many parts of the world, including the US, are investing more in gas than renewables. China is the worlds biggest producer and user of coal. It consumes more than half the world’s supply. Part of the reason is that it produces so many materials and products for the world. 

More than half of the world’s cement and steel are produced by China, made from burning coking coal. Alternative fuels for these heavy industries are in development but are not widely available yet. 90% of the global electricity generation should come from renewable sources to reach net-zero by 2050. China also produces vast amounts of renewable energy but still relies heavily on coal. In terms of the energy mix, China and the US are around the same.





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