photo by Rose Davies (Flickr CC)Though China has been the largest aggregate emitter of CO2 in the world since 2006, the argument has always been that they emit far less per person than developed countries.

Well that argument has now expired with the news that China’s per capita CO2 in 2011 was more or less equal to the European average. The main difference is that China has only recently become a big emitter (both in terms of total and per capita emissions) whereas Europe and the rest of the developed world have been emitting for ages and in a big way.

This is according to a report by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the European commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), which measures emissions from energy.

The other main difference is that while Europe’s emissions are going down, China’s are still skyrocketing.

From the European Commission website:

In the EU CO2 emissions dropped by 3% to 7.5 tonnes per capita. Emissions in the US and Japan fell 2%. OECD countries now account for one-third of global CO2 emissions – the same share as that of China and India combined. China’s emissions continued to grow rapidly, increasing by 9%. Chinese per capita emissions, at 7.2 tonnes, are now just below the EU level.

Don’t worry China, the US are still the per capita CO2 villains here, with 17.3 tons compared with your relatively puny 7.2, though your total emissions are 80% higher than the yanks. Better watch out for India too, whose per capita emissions rose by 6% in 2011. And there are a lot of them too.

From AFP:

In volume terms, China and the United States are the No. 1 and No. 2 world emitters, accounting for 29 and 16 percent of global CO2, it said. They are followed by the EU (11 percent), India (six percent), Russia (five percent) and Japan (four percent).

Other things to consider are importing and exporting. China may be producing a lot of CO2 that Europe et al are in fact causing due to demand for Chinese goods. How does that factor in?

From the Guardian:

But a recent study showed that even when imports and international travel are taken into account, the developed world now accounts for less than half of current global emissions. Moreover, China’s emissions may be even higher than reported today according to another study showingthat the country’s official energy statistics were as much as 20% lower than they should be.

Oh well, next time you think we’re going to Hell in a handbag check to see if that handbag is made in China.