WASHINGTON – Pollution typically declines during a recession. Not this time.
Despite a global economic slump, worldwide carbon dioxide pollution jumped 2 percent last year, most of the increase coming from China, according to a study published online Tuesday.
“The growth in emissions since 2000 is almost entirely driven by the growth in China,” said study lead author Corinne Le Quere of the University of East Anglia. “It’s China and India and all the developing countries together.”
Carbon dioxide emissions, the chief man-made greenhouse gas, come from the burning of coal, oil, natural gas, and also from the production of cement, which is a significant pollution factor in China. Worldwide emissions rose 671 million more tons from 2007 to 2008. Nearly three-quarters of that increase came from China.
The numbers are from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
According to the study, the 2008 emissions increase was smaller than normal for this decade. Annual global pollution growth has averaged 3.6 percent. This year, scientists are forecasting a nearly 3 percent reduction, despite China, because of the massive economic slowdown in most of the world.
The U.S. is still the biggest per capita major producer of man-made greenhouse gases, spewing about 20 tons of carbon dioxide per person per year. The world average is 5.3 tons and China is at 5.8 tons
Last year, the U.S. emissions fell by 3 percent, a reduction of nearly 192 million tons of carbon dioxide. Overall European Union emissions dropped by 1 percent.