Homework 3: As Compared to What?

Sustainability Development Goal (SDG) 9.4: “by 2030 upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities.”

In 2012 the UN launched the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which set targets for countries to aim towards in order to become a more sustainable society and support sustainable development. Four years later in 2016, the Paris climate agreement was the next big global accord among countries to try their best to steer the world off the course of warming more than 2ºC. In 2020 the world is now 10 years away from the goal’s target date of 2030, and the global climate and environmental crisis seems to make headlines every week.

I decided to check where some countries were at in reducing their carbon dioxide emissions from 2000 to 2016 (the same year of the Paris Accord). There is no data from 2016 to 2020, but that can be in my next comparison chart when the data comes out.

I found that Qatar, a small country of about 2 million people with rich oil reserves had the highest carbon dioxide emissions per capita. Compared to 2000 to 2016, Qatari emissions decreased from 35.9 metric tons of CO2 to 29.8 metric tons of CO2. As compared to the other developed nations in the chart, Qatar’s emissions are far higher, with Australia and the U.S. following.

I included Brunei in the chart because I knew it was a fairly small country (population of less than 500,000)and I was surprised to see that their carbon dioxide emissions per capita were similar to those of the US.

Another thing that surprised me from this dataset is the low numbers of carbon dioxide emissions coming from China. Although China did increase their emissions from 2000 to 2016, typically China is considered a heavy polluter but here we can see that per capita CO2 emissions for China are lower than Brunei, a country with far less people.

I would have liked to used data of the total emissions of carbon dioxide for this chart rather than the per capita emissions. I don’t think per capita emissions truly capture the sheer amount of carbon dioxide or green house gas emissions that countries are pouring into the atmosphere. Furthermore, per capita places the blame of carbon emissions on each person, rather than the corporations and institutions that have been contributing to polluting our atmosphere for decades.