China’s 2019 greenhouse gas emissions surpassed those of all developed nations combined

Smoke billows from a large steel plant as a Chinese labourer works at an unauthorized steel factory, foreground, in Inner Mongolia, China. (Photo courtesy: Kevin Frayer)

(, May08’21) – China was the world’s biggest contributor by a huge margin to greenhouse gas emissions during 2019, according to a new report from the Rhodium Group May 7. The report found that the country’s annual emissions exceeded those of all developed nations combined in 2019, the first time this has happened since national greenhouse gas emissions have been measured.

The researchers have said global emissions had reached 52 gigatons of CO2-equivalent in 2019, an increase of 11.4% over the past decade, with China’s share growing fast.

While China’s emissions were less than a quarter of developed country emissions in 1990, they have more than tripled over the past three decades, the report was cited as saying. In 2019, they exceeded 14 gigatons of CO2-equivalent for the first time.

“China alone contributed over 27% of total global emissions, far exceeding the US — the second highest emitter — which contributed 11% of the global total,” according to the report. And for the first time, India edged out the EU-27 for third place, coming in at 6.6% of global emissions.”

China’s per capita emissions were also stated to be growing.

“In 2019, China’s per capita emissions reached 10.1 tons, nearly tripling over the past two decades,” the report has said.

Greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere like a blanket, trapping radiation that would otherwise escape into space. This causes temperatures on Earth to rise, which is linked to more extreme weather, ice melt and a rise in sea levels. And the more carbon emitted into the atmosphere, the more the planet will warm, noted the May 7.

Reinhard Steurer, a climate scientist and associate professor at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, has pointed out, “A lot of the stuff we [in the West] consume is produced in China and the emissions are counted into the Chinese carbon emissions record.”


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