China’s 2019 greenhouse gas emissions surpassed the emissions of the United States and the entire developed world combined, a report from the research and consulting firm Rhodium Group revealed Thursday.
The communist nation’s emissions also more than tripled over the last 30 years, according to the report. More than 27 percent of global emissions are from China, while the U.S. – the second-highest emitter in the world – is responsible for just 11 percent of total global emissions. India is next in line with 6.6 percent, followed by the European Union’s 27 nations with 6.4 percent.
The report comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to make sure China’s emissions peak by 2030 during a climate summit hosted by President Joe Biden in April, CNBC reported. The communist leader also said the nation is committed to reaching net-zero emissions within 50 years, pressuring other countries to follow suit in an effort to combat climate change.
“We must be committed to multilateralism,” Xi said at the summit. “China looks forward to working with the international community, including the United States, to jointly advance global environmental governance.”
Chinese officials say they’re making economic growth a top priority, and the country is still expanding construction on coal-fired power plants.
In 2020, the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China partnered to fund $474 million worth of coal projects outside of China. Coal also made up over half of China’s domestic energy generation in 2020, according to Li Gao, director general of the Department of Climate Change at China’s Ecology Ministry, CNBC reported.
China’s net emissions continued to climb last year, increasing by around 1.7 percent, while nearly every other nation saw declines in emissions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
With a population of over 1.4 billion people, the nation’s emissions topped 14 gigatons in 2019, tripling 1990 levels and increasing by 25 percent over the last 10 years.
“For a big country with 1.4 billion people, these goals are not easily delivered,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said in an interview with The Associated Press in Beijing. “Some countries are asking China to achieve the goals earlier. I am afraid this is not very realistic.”
In the days leading up to the climate summit, U.S. special envoy for climate John Kerry met with officials in Shanghai, prompting the release of a joint statement on climate change.
Both the United States and China “are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands,” the statement read.