Emissions profile for Developed Countries vs Developing Countries – Is it 46/54 or 80/20? The Australian misleads the real numbers

The Australian has a story today about a study with the headline

“Developing nations outstrip rich on greenhouse gases”

When you go into the details the numbers are different.

Developing countries of the world; where 5.7 billion people live emit 54% of the world emissions; and the developed world where 1 billion people live emit about 46% of the world emissions. From 1990, the developing countries have been growing faster than developed countries. This is true for two reasons – one, more population and two, higher economic growth.

The author of the study has this to say too,

  • The study said that the increase in emissions from developing countries was in part due to their manufacture of goods for export to rich countries.
  • Professor Le Quere said that emissions per person remained much higher in rich countries
  • Professor Le Quere said that the study did not take account of historic responsibility for greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. She said that developing countries were responsible for only 20 per cent of cumulative emissions since 1751.
  • “Emissions in rich countries have only stabilised because they have reached a certain stage of development which other countries have yet to attain.”

The last part is the critical. They have stabilised at a very high per capita per person because of a certain stage of development and developing countries with their higher population are responsible for only 20% of the world emissions from 1751.

If carbon emissions need to be cut then the developed nations responsible for 80% of the emissions from 1751 need to do it first. Only if headlines told the real story.

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