Australia has relatively unreliable weather patterns and so it’s in a precarious position with water supplies and food production. Given these fragilities, we have a lot to lose in the climate stakes, yet our greenhouse emissions are increasing faster than the global average, and at nearly twice the rate of the USA.
Across the world, the rate of increase in CO2 emissions from fossil fuels was three times greater between 2000 and 2004 than in the 1990s.
The global average for CO2 emissions is 4.3 tonnes per person per year, while the USA produces 20 tonnes per person a year. Australians get the silver medal in the ‘world’s biggest polluters’ category, with 19 tonnes of CO2 each.
China’s per capita emissions were 3.7 tonnes a year in 2004. However, the country’s total emissions are far higher than Australia’s because there are 65 Chinese for every Australian. So when it comes to CO2 reductions, Australia is obliged to make a bigger proportional reduction than China in any global strategy.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences/The Age