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No way Copenhagen

GB Geo-Blog

No way Copenhagen

The OECD recently published its 2009 edition of the “OECD in Figures”. Included in this document are data on CO2 emissions, not only by each of the OECD countries, but also by the BRIC countries. The data are quite revealing as the climate change conference in Copenhagen approaches.

The 30 OECD countries collectively produced 13 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2007, 17% (or about 2 billion tonnes) more than in 1990. I guess Kyoto was not a rip-roaring success.

The U.S. alone generated 5.8 billion tonnes, or 45% of the OECD total. Among the other OECD countries, only eight reduced their emissions between 1990 and 2007 – the Slovak Republic, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, Sweden and Poland being the only countries with double digit declines. With the exception of Sweden, the other five on this list were part of or included, in the case of Germany, a country which was part of the former Soviet Empire. The sharp reductions likely reflected a restructuring of their economies and the adoption of technologies which decreased the CO2 intensities of their economies.

The largest increases, ranging from 113% for South Korea to 32% for Canada, were produced by 10 countries. Following South Korea, the next five countries recording the highest rates of increase in CO2 emissions were Turkey, Spain, New Zealand, Australia and Mexico.

Brazil, Russia, India and China generated 9.3 billion tonnes in 2007, or 71% of the OECD total. China was by far the largest producer of CO2 with 6 billion tonnes (3% more than the U.S.). CO2 emissions increased 173%, 125% and 80% in China, India and Brazil respectively between 1990 and 2007. In Russia, largely as a result of the collapse of the economy in the early 1990s. emissions actually fell by 27%. However, Russia’s emissions of CO2 per unit of GDP were still nine times the OECD average, and 53% higher than in China.

CO2 emissions in Canada grew more rapidly than in both the U.S. and all OECD countries between 1990 and 2007, and Canada’s CO2 intensity was 53% greater than the OECD average, and 26% above the U.S. intensity. So while Canada’s Minister of Environment wants any agreement to reduce emissions to include commitments from all countries, Canada’s record to date does not entitle it to a position of leadership in any debate on climate change, even though in light of the available data, the position appears to be a reasonable one. Regardless of the Canadian position,  a meaningful agreement is very unlikely to materialize in Copenhagen in light of the varying experiences of the major players since 1990. Maybe the oil sands are still safe for the time being.

I wonder where the next meeting on climate change will take place?


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