Thinking CO2 Emissions not as Overall but as per Capita - Halil Öztürk



As time elapses, we are exposed to more climate change and footprint news, activities, and events. More than seeing and hearing, we at times experience the effect of the change in the nature of the earth; to exemplify, some of us have got used to not enjoying snowballs in winters, or have forgotten how the clean air smells, which are due to its harmfulness associated with the rate of CO2 in the air. CO2 does, although it exists in nature and is produced and consumed by the creatures in addition to humans, the energy needs of humans to empower its economy has got the equilibrium in the nature off and created a CO2 surplus, which creates the threat "greenhouse effect." To introduce the effect, much of the solar radiation hitting the earth's surface is reflected into the atmosphere and space, and the excessive amount of CO2 is a threat to the function of our Earth (Moss, 1988). Of course, the excessive amount is not being created by human to create such a threat; rather, it is just a consequence of the willingness to produce and consume more, which come with energy production. Nonetheless, as you know, energy production does necessarily mean CO2 emission always, which leads us to the corridor of renewable energy since it is especially the process of generating energy from fossil fuels that produce CO2 and the greenhouse effect. According to The Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change, in 2018, about 90% of global CO2 came from fossil fuels and industry, which makes it enough to work on the relationships among energy, fossil fuels, and climate change.


Generally, based upon personal observations, when we talk about the rate of emissions in our daily lives, we immediately start to take countries' emission rates into account and mostly discuss China, the US, Japan, and so forth. To see how the rates of effect are, we can look at the following popular figure, probably most of us have already seen it:


Source: Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emissions


It seems fair enough to think of the US, China, India, and some other ones threatening our lives by destroying the world's “beauty." If we categorize the countries in the chart based upon their income levels, 3 out of them are from high category income (we accepted EU-28 as one country and in this category without any precise objective reason), 2 (Russian Federation, India) from the middle income and 1 (China) from upper-middle-income based upon World Bank. Now, it also seems fair enough to think the higher income ones’ preferences harm the others, about which we will talk about again.

Now, instead of thinking the emissions rates by country, we shall think it by per capita (the effect of on single person's effect on average) by country and take the energy consumption per capita into consideration due to the relation between CO2 emission and energy production, we have talked about. Actually, China may not be criticized for its emission if we think its population because if we accept the following statement that “people are the most important subject of the excessive amount of CO2", the more population under today's circumstances, the more emission because the, as a matter of fact, the demand of a product goes up as population goes up, which means for our case, the supply of greenhouse gas goes up by people. Ergo, we may or ought to take also energy consumption per capita. In the end, we can also add a new term in the relation between energy consumption per capita and emission per capita, the consumption habits, as we will see in the following paragraphs.

To talk about energy consumption per capita and CO2 emission per capita, what is not in doubt that how much energy consumed a person is expected to change by such variables as geography, income level, national culture, and so on. If we look at the mean of energy consumption per capita in by country, we see such a different table from the previous pi-chart:


Source: World Bank Database


Interestingly and importantly, the figures are by far different from the pi-chart, which simply say, although some countries such as the US, China contributes to the amount of CO2 more than the others, the average person from Qatar, Bahrain consume more energy and contribute to the emissions more than an average person from the US, China, Japan, or India although they are ignored. The similarity between the ranking of the two tables may help us to see how much the carbon emission "champions" depend upon fossil fuels to satisfy the demand for energy in their economies. Now, the reason why China, the US, and some others come first to our mind when we talk about greenhouse gas issues is not only the average CO2 emission by average person from these countries, but also their high population compared to such countries Qatar, Bahrein, etc. whose people averagely produce high CO2 compared to the rest of the world. However, if we instead of the total population, look at the population growth trends of the high CO2 producer per capita countries which are significantly higher than the world average, a kind of threat emerges.


We may take consumption habits into consideration when we think of energy consumption and CO2 emission per capita because intuitively, we can accept the following statement: "what to consume and how to consume is shaped by consumption habits." At this point, if we also accept the following statement “it is not possible to change people’s consumption habits immediately," we can come to an interesting conclusion: although overall such countries as Bahrain, Qatar, Brunei Darussalam, etc. do not contribute to the excessive amount of CO2 in the atmosphere especially compared to the US, China, Japan, they have by far high rates per capita compared to the US, China, Japan, which is ignored due to their population. However, when we look at some countries with high – CO2 emissions per capita, their population growth rates are high compared to those producing high CO2overall. Since we have already accepted some statements about consumption habits, there will be some countries with a high population comprised of high energy-consuming habit individuals in the future.