Oceania’s the worst emitter per capita

By Samisoni Pareti in COP24, Katowice, Poland.

Katowice, Poland – Per capita, Oceania is the worst carbon emitter by continent, a study by a leading research centre on climate change in England has shown.

Called the World Carbon Budget 2018, this new assessment report on carbon emission shows that while by continent Oceania is the least emitter of carbon dioxide, the region takes the lead however when emission is calculated per capita.

Oceania’s per capita emission in 2017 was around 14 tonnes, while it was around 13 tonnes per person in North America. The Middle East and Europe had a per capita emission of under 7 tonnes while it was between 2 tonnes and 4 tonnes per capita for the continents of Asia, South America and Africa. Global average was 4.8 tonnes per capita in 2017, the Global Carbon Budget 2018 said.

Professor Corinne Le Quéré, lead author of the Carbon Budget Report says Oceania’s total emission per person is huge as Australia and New Zealand are counted as part of Oceania in the report.

A professor of Climate Change Science and Policy at the University of East Anglia in Central England, Professor Le Quéré is the director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, which was among research institutions around the world that worked on this year’s World Carbon Budget.

The same report shows that coal continues to lead as the largest source of emission, responsible for 14.6Gt of carbon dioxide emissions in 2017, said to be 40% of total emissions for that year.

Oil emission was second, accounting for about 35% of total emission, followed by gas and cement.

On a country by country basis, China continues to be the world’s worst emitter of carbon dioxide, responsible for about 27% of the world’s total carbin emission, states the World Carbon Budget of 2018.

At 5.3Gt of emissions, the United States is the second largest emitter, followed by the European Union and India listed as the fourth largest emitter, accounting for about 7% of the world total emission.

Per capita emissions for the world’s top four emitters, the United States takes the lead with about 16.2 tonnes per person. China’s per capita emission is 7 tonnes, the EU at 4.8 tonnes and India at 1.8 tonnes.

In her presentation to fellows of the Climate Change Media Partnership (CCMP) at the margins of the United Nations’ COP24 in Katowice this week, Professor Le Quéré did point out that their work on calculating total carbon emissions were hampered by the lack of good data on deforestation. Good data on deforestation is necessary she said because the rate of deforestation plus fossil fuel (like coal, oil and gas) data are used to calculate the amount of carbon emission annually.

Deforestation data is “a mess,” the Professor says, and all researchers like her have to work with are the figures provided by the UN’s Food Agricultural Organisation which are deemed by everyone to be incomplete and therefore unreliable.

The 19 CCMP fellows are environmental journalists from Asia, Africa, South America, the Caribbean and the Pacific that have been invited to cover COP24 under the invitation of Internews and the Earth Journalism Network in partnership with the Stanley Foundation of the United States.