UN panel shows who’s responsible for CO2 emissions

BERLIN (AP) – The U.N.’s expert panel on climate change is preparing a new report this weekend outlining the cuts in greenhouse gases, mainly CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels, required in coming decades to keep global warming in check.

Since it’s a scientific body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won’t tell governments how to divide those emissions cuts – a crunch issue in negotiations on a new climate pact that’s supposed to be adopted next year.

However, in leaked draft of the report obtained by The Associated Press, the IPCC shows with graphs and tables which countries are responsible for the greatest share of emissions, using a range of different accounting methods. These are some of the key facts on emissions:

Current total emissions

At the time of the IPCC’s previous climate assessment, in 2007, the U.S. was the world’s top carbon polluter. It has since been overtaken by China, which now accounts for one-quarter of global emissions because of its rapidly expanding economy. The U.S. is No. 2 with 17 percent, followed by India (6.6 percent), Russia (5.1 percent) and Japan (3.7 percent).

Historical emissions

If you count back to when the Industrial Revolution started in the 18th century, the U.S. is the undisputed No. 1, accounting for nearly 28 percent of the world’s cumulative emissions from energy and industry. China’s share is 9.9 percent, Russia’s 6.9 percent, Britain’s 5.9 percent and Germany’s 5.6 percent. Western countries rank high because they have been burning coal and oil for much longer than the rest of the world.

Emissions per capita

Putting emissions in proportion to population size also puts Western countries – and oil and gas-rich Gulf states – at the top of the table. In per capita emissions, Australians, Canadians and Americans exceed 20 tons of carbon per year – more than twice as much as the Chinese. “Overall, per-capita emissions in the highly industrialized countries … remain, on average, about five times higher than those of the lowest income countries,” the draft report says.