Home > Uncategorized > CO2 emissions per capita: United States, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland and Sweden

CO2 emissions per capita: United States, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland and Sweden

  1. Ludo van Oyen
    April 1, 2016 at 11:47 am

    which year/period do these statistics refer to?

  2. April 1, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    I’ve studied how this metric has been completely misunderstood for a decade now, a repeated misuse of national account data for measuring global consumption of its economy. It’s totally misdefined and misleading.

    That said it’s also very self-reinforcing for the urban myths that social media circulates, greatly favoring the offshore investment economies of the north sea nations, in this case, versus the more onshore operation of the continental economy of the US. The tragedy is how greatly both are grossly understated, the US figure a bit less that the others.

    Here’s the math for understanding the true scale. Since GDP is not a measure of *local money made”, but a measure of *global consumption paid*, studies the per capita CO2 production, in our truly global economy, it’s extremely widely distributed globally. It’s NOT confined to specialized industries, but spread across all resource uses for delivering end products. So one is forced by standard accounting rules to treat equal shares as average, unless shown that the consumption is not widely distributed. That turns out to be quite hard to do, so usually not worth the effort, and so likely to “average out” one uses that to get the true scale. **So especially for large aggregates, one must estimate national GDP as measuring average unit shares of global resource consumption and impacts.**

    The world average CO2 per $GDP is ~0.45kg, So for the US with per capita GDP of $53,041.98 USD (2013), its CO2 intensity is 23.8 mt per capita, *not 17.0*. For Sweden, with higher per capita GDP of $60,430.22 USD (2013), its CO2 intensity is then 27.2 mt per capita.

    That’s a **40% error** for the reported US CO2 intensity and a **395% error** for the reported Swedish CO2 intensity,

    What confuses most scientists is thinking of GDP as a local money being made, counted against local CO2 being produced. So both numerator and denominator are misdefined for measuring the total CO2 produced to deliver the average person’s consumption. The details have been published and discussed as widely as vigorous persistent efforts would allow, given the extreme reticence of the institutional accounting world to correct the often admitted deceptive error in the definition of its measures.


    • April 2, 2016 at 6:17 pm

      I suppose this puts in a different perspective the too optimistic post on Sweden´s decarbonization!

  3. Jamie
    April 9, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    This is now out as open access as part of a special issue on Paris COP 21 that might be of some interest to you here:

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