Awaam Blog, Vision21
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Who is responsible for Climate change

February 2, 2012

Mehwish Mushtaq

Scientists who have been studying climate change/carbon footprint of entire nations claim that traditionally the richest, developed and industrialized nations are majorly responsible for affecting our world’s climate, and in the past more often than not the USA topped the list. With the shift of industrialization, now developing countries like China and India are also contributing a lot to environmental pollution and emitting green house gases which is not helping the situation at all, economic development takes priority over everything else. Another point to be noted here is that most of the countries that have been named mostly seek ways to avoid responsibility as the cost of reducing C02 emissions are great and when it comes to putting money on the table, these developed/developing countries want the whole world to foot the bill instead of taking moral responsibility and cleaning their own mess. The sad thing is that while these richer countries are busy reaping economic rewards, the poorer nations are busy paying the cost in the form of tsunamis’ floods and hurricanes. There are many different ways of measuring environmental pollution/damage for example Current level of total emissions, per capita emissions, historical emissions and emissions that are measured by consumption as opposed to production. Here we are going to cite Current Co2 emissions, total green houses gas emissions and Historical emissions as they’re all equally important while taking
Current CO2 emissions
This is the simplest and mostly widely used method. According to 2009 data from the US Energy Information Administration the countries topping the list are:
1. China: 7,711 million tonnes (MT) or 25.4%
2. US: 5,425 MT or 17.8%
3. India: 1,602 MT or 5.3%
4. Russia: 1,572 MT or 5.2%
5. Japan: 1,098 MT or 3.6%
6. Germany: 766 MT 2.5%
7. Canada: 541 MT or 1.8%
8. South Korea: 528 MT or 1.7%
9. Iran: 527 MT or 1.7%
10. UK: 520 MT or 1.7%

Total greenhouse gas emissions
When other sources of greenhouse gases and blatant damage to natural resources such as deforestation are taken into account, the current emission figures change a lot. Judging by data available in 2005, the top 10 emitters were:
1. China: 7,216 MT or 16.4%
2. US: 6,931 MT or 15.7%
3. Brazil: 2,856 MT or 6.5%
4. Indonesia: 2,046 MT or 4.6%
5. Russia: 2,028 MT or 4.6%
6. India: 1,870 MT or 4.2%
7. Japan: 1,387 MT or 3.1%
8. Germany: 1,005 MT or 2.3%
9. Canada: 808 MT or 1.8%
10. Mexico: 696 MT or 1.6%

Historical emissions
Since carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere can stay there for centuries, historical emissions are equally important, than the current emissions. According to the world resource institute the top historical culprits are: The US tops the list here:
1.US: 339,174 MT or 28.8%
2. China: 105,915 MT or 9.0%
3. Russia: 94,679 MT or 8.0%
4. Germany: 81,194.5 MT or 6.9%
5. UK: 68,763 MT or 5.8%
6. Japan: 45,629 MT or 3.87%
7. France: 32,667 MT or 2.77%
8. India: 28,824 MT or 2.44%
9. Canada: 25,716 MT or 2.2%
10. Ukraine: 25,431 MT or 2.2%

Analysts also want data to be compared on the basis of consumption rather than production data only. This means it’s not only the countries where goods are produced that are to be held responsible but also the one’s where goods are consumed in huge quantities that will have to bear some of the responsibility keeping in mind the demand and supply rule. Countries like the US that have contributed heavily towards environmental damage and CO2 emissions need to participate more actively to combat the problem at hand which is going to affect the world at large and not just a single place. Like the US senator John Kerry said “So far, America has not led, but fled the topic of climate change”.

To finish this note, I’d like to quote a little something from the poet Robert Browning’s poem The Pied Piper:
“Rouse up sirs! Give your brains a racking
To find the remedy we’re lacking;
or sure as fate nature will send us packing ( last line modified)”.



This entry was posted in: Awaam Blog, Vision21


Vision 21 is Pakistan based non-profit, non- party Socio-Political organisation. We work through research and advocacy for developing and improving Human Capital, by focusing on Poverty and Misery Alleviation, Rights Awareness, Human Dignity, Women empowerment and Justice as a right and obligation. We act to promote and actively seek Human well-being and happiness by working side by side with the deprived and have-nots.

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