U.S. Top Polluter Per Capita, G8 Survey Says

Vivi Gorman
Posted on Thursday 2nd July 2009

The United States has the highest emissions of greenhouse gases per capita in the world, according to a survey of the G8 countries’ efforts on clean energy and reducing pollution by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and German-based financial services company Allianz SE.

On July 1, a week out from the 2009 G8 summit in Italy, the two groups released the G8 Climate Scorecards, ranking Germany and the United Kingdom at the top and the United States as seventh. In previous years the United States has been ranked last. The annual G8 Climate Scorecard analyzes the policies of the G8 countries in terms of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, how much energy is delivered from renewable sources, and investments in clean energy technology. Additional indicators include emissions per capita, emissions per gross domestic product, carbon dioxide per kWh of electricity, energy efficiency in industry, negotiation in leadership, electricity/nuclear policy, industry policy, household/services policy, transport policy, and distance to Kyoto target.

Ahead of the United States in the ranking are France, Italy, Japan and Russia. Canada ranked below the United States.

Germany edged out the UK given that Germany has reduced its emissions, albeit slowly; successfully promoted new renewable energy sources; and seeks to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. However, the scorecard said Germany favors less strict rules in the European Union emission trading system, is not addressing new coal power plants and worked to lessen EU policies on transport emissions.

Germany’s emissions per capita were calculated at 12 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per capita (tCO2eq./cap), whereas the United States’ is more than twice that, being tolled at 25tCO2eq./cap. The scorecard says the United States has improved over the last year but releases the most carbon dioxide of all the G8 countries and has the highest per capita emissions in the world, which are expected to rise. The scorecard notes that the United States has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol. The positive mention is that the current administration has launched ambitious climate- and energy- related policies, pending legislative approval.

Other Nations Ahead

WWF President and CEO Carter Roberts explained that the United States is behind other countries that have been undertaking efforts for some time now.

“For too long, the U.S. has resisted action while other nations have begun the transition to a clean energy economy. Other nations have dramatically cut greenhouse gas pollution, set national targets, ramped up investments in energy technology and set regulatory frameworks to spark innovation in key sectors. And now other countries dominate markets in sustainable energy and technology.

“It is time for the U.S. to get into the game and make up for lost time. Passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act by the House on Friday took us a big step forward. We need the Senate to pass the bill, get it to the President before Copenhagen and give us the means to challenge other countries to work with us in solving this global problem,” Roberts said.

The scorecard report says European nations have exceeded the United States in growing their clean energy sectors.

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