Affluent Chinese Families Now Have Similar CO2 Footprint as Europe

The rising numbers of middle and upper class Chinese now generate carbon emissions that are beginning to rival those of Europeans, according to a new study. An Austrian researcher calculated that the 300 million Chinese who now make up the country’s increasingly well-off urban population annually generate 2 to 6.4 tons of carbon dioxide per capita. The wealthiest Chinese now have a carbon footprint that approaches residents of the European Union, who have an annual carbon footprint of 6.7 tons per capita. Because many of its 1.3 billion citizens still live in poverty, China overall only produces 1.7 tons of CO2 per capita, far below the average American’s carbon footprint of 10.4 tons per capita. Reporting in Nature Climate Change, researcher Dominik Wiedenhofer said rising Chinese emissions underscore that all nations must focus on “decoupling” carbon emissions from affluent living standards.