The United States leads the industrial world when it comes to carbon dioxide emissions, at 20.1 tonnes per inhabitant in 1998, almost double the overall OECD level of 10.9 tonnes per head.
The European Union, by contrast, produced less than half that amount, as did Japan. Among the G7 industrial countries, only Canada and the United States have emissions above the overall OECD level, while France claims the distinction of the lowest CO2 emissions per head, at 6.4 tonnes.
Turkey produces the least carbon dioxide per head in the OECD at just 2.9 tonnes. The OECD’s newest member, the Slovak Republic, produces more CO2 than France, at 6.9 tonnes per head, but less than Italy’s 7.5 tonnes per head.
Emissions of CO2 in OECD countries, far from falling in line with the 1997 Kyoto international agreement on climate change, are in fact expected to increase by a third by 2020 if no major new policies are put in place.
The cause is increased transport and energy use. Without action, urban air quality is expected to worsen, affecting human health. Biodiversity and natural habitats would deteriorate, and pollution of groundwater reserves by nutrients and toxic chemicals would increase.
(See article "The environment: from words to action" by Joke Waller-Hunter, on this website.)
©OECD Observer No 226/227, Summer 2001