Tuesday, October 23, 2007

PER CAPITA CARBON EMISSIONS AND PER CAPITA INCOME

Here is ranking of top 25 or so countries in real per capita income with their ranks in per capita carbon emissions, with Singapore and Taiwan missing data. Oil producers mostly do badly, but users of nuclear for electricity tend to do well. Real GDP is for 2006, IMF data, per capita carbon emissions from Wikipedia for 2004.

Real per cap GDP in order Per cap carbon emissions rank

Luxembourg 4 (burns lots of coal for electricity)
Ireland 32
Norway 12
USA 10 (third worst on list, big surprise)
Iceland 53 (lots of geothermal)
Hong Kong 72 (don't know why so good, best on list)
Switzerland 69 (don't know its breakdown for electricity production)
Netherlands 43
Denmark 36 (tops in use of wind power)
Qatar 1 (small OPEC oil producer)
Austria 46
Finland 21
Canada 11 (fourth worst on list, oil)
UK 37
Belgium 40
Sweden 66 (lots of nuclear and hydro)
UAE 3 (small OPEC oil producer)
Australia 13
Greece 44
Japan 34
France 63 (lots of nuclear)
Israel 29
Germany 38
Italy 52

17 comments:

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

I apologize, folks. I am screwing this up. Not sure why. Have been out of town again.

Here it is.

Luxembourg 4
Ireland 32
Norway 12
USA 10
Iceland 53 (geothermal big)
Hong Kong 72 (best, why?)
Switzerland 69 (very good, why?)
Netherlands 43
Denmark 36 (tops in wind)
Qatar 1 (OPEC oil)
Austria 46
Finland 21
Canada 11
UK 37
Belgium 40
Sweden 66 (nukes and hydro)
UAE 3 (OPEC oil)
Australia 18
Greece 44
Japan 34
France 63 (lots of nukes)
Israel 29
Germany 38
Italy 52

Michael Perelman said...

Wouldn't this data have more meaning if we were dealing with closed economies?

Anonymous said...

Hong Kong -- probably because it's a giant city, and cities are very low energy users. Mass transit, economies of scale in heating buildings, small apartments, that sort of thing. And going back to michael perelman's issue above, Hong Kong presumably imports a lot of its food and other necessities from elsewhere, which might make it look better.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

michael,

Openness certainly does explain some of the cases, but in many cases it does not. Certainly the small, OPEC oil countries like Qatar and UAE would probably not even be on the list if they could not make money by selling oil abroad (and thus also be led into burning lots of it while producing it). While the US might do better if it could not import all that oil to burn, it might use even more coal, given that it is so well-endowed with it.

So, I am not sure what the point of that question is. Both the per capita income and per capita emissions lists would be scrambled by having closed economies, especially fully closed ones to the point of autarky, which would massively impoverish most of the smaller countries.

Four sectors are responsible for the vast majority of the carbon emissions: transportation (especially autos, with their use of oil, with how much countries use public transport or enforce using cleaner cars important), electricity (which very much depends on local supplies of hydro or coal or uranium or wind or geothermal, etc.), heavy manufacturing (especially steel, again issue of coal availability important), and the fossil fuel sectors themselves, oil and coal. The nature of the economic system and the political will to use it to enforce cleaner technologies has also been important, although ironically some of those cleaner techs were put in for other reasons, e.g. both France and Sweden emphasized nuclear because of their desires at various points to have domestically produced nuclear weapons, a desire France followed through on but Sweden did not.

Barkley

Anonymous said...

Yeah, as others said you need to factor for the amount of power imported/exported from/to abroad.

I understand that Italy, for example, imports a lot of energy from France. It's against the law to build nuclear power stations in Italy, and as a result there are a lot of them north of the border in France built specifically for Italian consumption. Something like that could be the case with Hong Kong too. I believe Switzerland has a lot of hydro - mountains...

abb1

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

abb1,

Hi. I have checked. The latest available figurs have 57% of Switzerland's electricity coming from hydropower and 39% from nuclear, the latter above the European average of 33%.

Barkley

Myrtle Blackwood said...

Barkley
I would be interested in examining the source of the information (regarding CO2 emitter rankings).

My understanding is that the emissions data for land-use, in particular, are extraordinarily unreliable.

I note that Indonesia and Brazil are not mentioned but the forest fires that occur in these two nations each year release extremely high levels of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Many are deliberately lit in order to gain a commercial advantage of one sort or another.

A similar situation now occurs in Australia but doesn't appear to be as rife. Nevertheless, whilst the Australian Government acknowledges the need, identified in the National Greenhouse Response Strategy, "to manage forests so as to maintain or increase their 'carbon sink' capacity and to minimise the emission of greenhouse gases from forest activities." (National Forest Policy Statement, 1992) it's very clear that this vital need is ignored.

Caveat B said...

Hong Kong is the most densely packed state on the list, so it's per capita emissions should be small.

I'd like to see China's rank, even though they're GDP per capita is close to the world median.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Brenda and caveatbetttor,

The source is ultimately the US Department of Energy's Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) for the United Nations Statistics Division. It is in Wikipedia and was the first source to appear when I googled "Per capita carbon emissions." It is for the year 2004, with China having sharply increased since then.

In any case, China is at 91, Brazil is at 120, Indonesia is at 123, and India is at 133. The total number of countries listed is 204, with Chad dead last. Again, those four I listed are all in the top ten for aggregate emissions, being 1, 5, 4, and 2 in population in the world (US is 3).

Barkley

Myrtle Blackwood said...

A helpful reference relating to the uncertainty in the measurement of greenhouse gases from 'biomass burning':

Uncertainties: qualification/quantification (greenhouse gas emission calculations), Courtesy Jos Olivier
dentener_GEIA_29112006_emissionsOverview.pdf
www.geiacenter.org/workshops/2006/reports/dentener_GEIA_29112006_emissionsOverview.pdf

European Commission, Directorate-General, Joint Research Centre
Page 25:

Latest news from my home town. A large Singapore multinational food corporation (vertically integrated) is closing down its operations in the Murray River region of North East Victoria, Australia. No more water to turn their vast landholdings of semi-desert country into lush green animal pasture. Incredible overuse of a scarce resource!

'Free at last' global trade. When large corporations base operations in a different country, exploit the forests, water and soil to extinction. Then close down and move operations somewhere else. In Australia you can't become Federal Minister for the Environment unless you have some background on this issue:

http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2004/s1210315.htm

Anonymous said...

In addition to the large fractions of hydro and nuclear in Switzerland, their extensive electrified rail system is a factor.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

I agree that there are especially large uncertainties about carbon emissions due to deforestation, although there are also uncertainties about the data from other sources as well. I would note one sign of this being the current uncertainty regarding whether or not China has actually surpassed the US in aggregate emissions. They may have and will certainly soon, if they have not already. But have they? Not clear.

Although no one has asked, I shall note that all of the other "top ten" per capita emitters ahead of the US are very small countries, either OPEC oil producers like UAE and Qatar, or Caribbean island resort places, like Netherlands Antilles. Not sure what is going on with them. Luxembourg, which is also small, is the only one that does not fall into either of those two categories.

Barkley

Anonymous said...

Previous posters have hit the key issue for Switzerland's low carbon footprint per capita: huge hydropower investments in the early to mid 20th century, (and to a lesser extent, nuclear investment in the late 20th century, though over increasingly vociferous opposition). Of course, hydropower is both easier and more productive when you're a vertically challenged country!

The density of the rail system, as well as its nearly complete electrification helps.

All these (with the arguable exception of the nuclear) are part of a culture of extensive and high-quality public investment -- often taken to extremes in quality, to be sure. (The Swiss national rail system was using locomotives built in the 1920s until the 1980s. It is still using locomotives built in the 1960s, though mostly for freight service, now).

Much of this public investment, if I recall correctly, happened through hybrid public-private entities, helped no doubt by a small and intensely interconnected political/economic class who tended to control both public and private institutions.

Myrtle Blackwood said...

The climate change predicament needs urgent action. Even IF nuclear were effective in bringing greenhouse gases down (and this is a matter of debate) it would take 10-15 years to get these plants ready to operate, according to Professor Lowenthal from the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Meanwhile the globe appears to be subjected to an enormous escalation in the release of greenhouse gases from forest fires. Many of which are being caused by government-industry push for replacement of oil for transport with biofuels.

"Clearing forests for production of palm oil often involves burning," Michelle Desilets (director of the UK-based Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation) said.

Carbon dioxide emissions from forest fires in Indonesia could easily outweigh the emissions European drivers would produce by using fossil fuels instead of biofuel in the first place, she added.

Tropical Forest Felled for Biofuels, Ecologists Say
SPAIN: April 19, 2007
http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/41465/newsDate/19-Apr-2007/story.htm

In Uganda indigenous people are reclaiming land taken from them for the establishment of tree plantation carbon sinks. They are burning the plantations and moving back because they have nowhere else to go.

In Australia the coal, forestry and energy corporations (in league with Govt) have established tree plantations for carbon trading in the best agricultural areas. These, also have replaced native forests and are subject to ongoing fires fueled with napalm.

In summary we have a situation where there is very little time to deal with the climate change crisis. The emissions-source data is unreliable. This is whilst the evidence of our direct experience says an immediate and quick resolution to greenhouse emissions would be to simply stop burning down global forests and plantations.

I can't see evidence of an attempt to obtain the support and efforts of global citizens. Rather government-industry have created their own for-profit schemes with little integrity in the studies that supposedly back them up.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

To all on Switzerland, it clearly has (and has had) some unique advantages in this area, although it has clearly taken pretty full advantage of them as well in a variety of ways.

Brenda,

It is my understanding that there will be a major push in the post-Kyoto negotiations for some kind of initiative on deforestation, although I do not know its details.

nmathys said...

yes, I completely agree concerning the comments on Switzerland: the nuclear and hydropower generation (CO2 emissions from coal are very small) is a key-argument and also given the small open country, a lot of grey-energy is also imported (and some exported). For more detail you can look at: http://www.bfe.admin.ch/themen/00526/00541/00542/00630/index.html?lang=fr&dossier_id=00768 (in german or french - sorry for only English-readers ...)

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