OF COMPREHENSIVE PER CAPITA EMISSIONS
THE AUSTRALIA INSTITUTE
Comprehensive emissions per capita for
Hal Turton and Clive Hamilton
The Australia Institute
'...the Parties included in Annex I shall implement domestic
action in accordance with national circumstances and with
a view to reducing emissions in a manner conducive to narrowing
per capita differences between developed and developing country
Parties while working towards achievement of the ultimate
objective of the Convention'.
The resolution above formed part of the agreement on flexibility
mechanisms reached at negotiations in Bonn in July 2001.
It is the first time that official reference has been made
in climate change negotiations to the concept of per capita
emissions and reflects a growing level of support for some
broader principle of equity that would, in time, permit developing
countries to enter into the target setting process.
Perhaps the most systematic and influential proposal building
on the idea of equal per capita entitlements to the use of
the global atmospheric commons is the approach known as ‘contraction
and convergence’ advocated by the Global Commons Institute
Per capita differences in emissions have, nevertheless, had
a substantial subterranean effect on negotiations to date.
The exclusion of developing countries from targets is due
not only to their low incomes but their low emissions per
capita. In the case of industrialised countries, expectations
about the responsibility to take action have been influenced
by perceptions of each country’s overall contribution to the
climate problem as well as by the profligacy of individual
citizens in each country. This is consistent with the
polluter pays principle.
However, serious consideration of these issues can proceed
only on the basis of good information on per capita emissions.
While any number of reports and papers have reported on energy
emissions per capita, no-one has reported on comprehensive
per capita emissions, that is, taking account of all sources
and sinks. Yet the data required to calculate per
capita emissions for industrialised countries are readily
available from the official communications to the United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The
present paper provides the best estimates of the comprehensive
greenhouse gas emissions for Annex B countries for the most
recently available year, 1998 in mot cases. It also
analyses the sectoral breakdown of per capita emissions for
2. Data for comprehensive
Under Articles 4 and 12 of the UNFCCC, Parties to the Convention
submit national greenhouse gas inventories to the UNFCCC secretariat
The information presented in Table 1 is based on recently
submitted inventory data for Annex B (industrialised) countries,
and is reproduced as reported by the UNFCCC. The UNFCCC
has modified the data slightly through rounding and correction
of calculation and typographical errors. In most cases,
the UNFCCC has made available greenhouse gas inventory submissions
for 2000, which cover the year 1998. Exceptions (with
most recent data indicated in brackets) include Iceland (1995),
Japan (1997), Liechtenstein (1990), Luxembourg (1995), Romania
(1994), the Russian Federation (1996) and Slovenia (1990).
The UNFCCC does not provide any data on Croatia, presumably
because it had not submitted any appropriate inventories.
The figures presented in Table 1 are based on emissions of
the three main greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2),
methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O).
Emissions of perfluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons and sulfur
hexafluoride are not included. For the three main gases
included, we have used the following global warming potentials
to convert the gases to carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2-e):
CO2 - 1; CH4 - 21; and N2O
- 310 (IPCC 1997).
The source categories (fuel combustion, agriculture, etc.)
are defined according to IPCC guidelines. Emissions
resulting from the combustion of fuel used in international
shipping and aviation are not included in country totals,
in accordance with IPCC methodology. Emissions and removals
from the land-use change and forestry sector are included
in the totals.
Table 1 also reports population data from the World Bank
(2001), for each country (for the appropriate year). These
are used to calculate comprehensive per capita emissions.
The comprehensive per capita emissions shown in Table 1 are
presented graphically in Figure 1.