The United Nations convened a Climate Summiton September 23, 2014 as a springboard for action on addressing global warming. About 120 national leaders attended, as well as leaders in business, government and action groups. Notable by their absence were the leaders from China and India, two of the nations among developing countries with the highest annual rates of emission of greenhouse gases (primarily carbon dioxide (CO2)) and/or the highest rates of growth in those emissions from year to year.
Annual rates of CO2emission attributed to the burning of fossil fuels from 1980-2011, for China, India and the U. S. The numbers on the left of each panel show the lowest and highest values on the vertical axis, enlarged for legibility. Note that the vertical axes are not comparable across the panels. Source: Adapted from the U. S. Energy Information Administration; http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=CH#cde; http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=IN&trk=m#cde; http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=US&trk=m#cde.
Numerical data for these countries’ growth in energy use and CO2 emissions are given in the Details section at the end of this post. As the graphics above show, China and India, which are good examples of many developing countries, have expanded economic activity and CO2 emissions many-fold over these decades, while the U. S., typical of most industrialized countries, has remained essentially constant, due at least in part to actions taken under Kyoto or aligned with it. This shows how “differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” stated in the Convention have developed over this time: developing countries have been at liberty to undergo unbridled expansion, while developed countries have emphasized measures to limit emissions.