China causes 27% of emissions. Why?

China is responsible for 27% of global CO2 emissions, followed by the USA at 15%, then India at 7% [1]. It makes sense that China has the most emissions, since it also has the biggest population [7]. However, other countries are indirectly responsible for some of China’s emissions, because China exports a lot of products to other countries [5].

14% of China’s emissions are exported [1]. If the stuff we use is produced in China, we should also count the emissions required to produce it towards our own emissions. Whilst China exports more emissions than they import, the USA imports 8% of its domestic emissions [1]. If you look back in time the USA has emitted by far the most; more than twice as much as China [1].

These statistics are somewhat skewed because they ignore differences in population between countries. The countries with the highest emissions *per person* might surprise you: Qatar and Curacao [1]. This is because they mine oil and have small populations [2,6,7], so there are a lot of emissions split between few people.

Of the major world economies, the United States and Canada have by far the highest CO2 emissions per person [3]. This is in part because of their carbon-heavy lifestyle [1]. One component of this is meat, which has a high carbon footprint compared to other foods [9]. Americans on average eat more meat than people in any other country [4], pushing up the country’s carbon footprint!


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