Australians named as world's worst polluters
Australians are the world's worst individual greenhouse gas polluters if emissions are calculated from the output of the country's power stations, according to new analysis.
Each Australian produces nearly 11 tonnes of CO2 power sector emissions, the United States follows on nine tonnes per person, while Britain is ranked ninth at 3.5 tonnes and China - heavily criticised by the international community for its rapid development of coal-fired power stations - produces only two tonnes a year per person. Indians emit about half a tonne of CO2 per person.
The data was compiled by the Centre for Global Development, a Washington-based thinktank. It found that the US had nearly one in six of the world's power stations, and emitted nearly 25% of the world's total CO2 emissions.
The analysis is embarrassing for the Australian government, which is fighting a general election on November 24. Climate change has been high on the election agenda after the conservative prime minister, John Howard, behind in the polls, consistently refused to sign the Kyoto climate pact. He has argued it would harm Australia's economy, which relies for most of its power on old coal-fired stations.
One surprise in the data, said the report, was that the world's biggest emitters of CO2 in absolute terms are no longer in the rich world but in rapidly emerging economies with enormous coal-fired plants. Five of the world's most polluting companies are in China and three in the US.
"High US emissions are partly the result of high living standards but they also reflect differences in government policy. Europeans with comparable living standards emit less than half the power sector CO2 of the average American," said Nancy Birdsall, one of the report's authors.
Power stations are the most concentrated source of greenhouse gases. The report found that the world's worst is Taichung in the Taiwanese city of Lung-Ching, which emits 41.3m tonnes of CO2 per year. By comparison, the Drax power station in Selby, North Yorkshire, which was named as the biggest UK polluter producing 23.7m tonnes of CO2, is a relative minnow, the world's 23rd worst.
The US produces 2.79bn tonnes a year and China slightly less with 2.7bn. They are followed by Russia with 661m tonnes; India 583m tonnes; Japan 400m tonnes; Germany 356m tonnes; Australia 226m tonnes; South Africa 222m tonnes; the UK with 212m tonnes and South Korea with 185m tonnes.