Since the mid-1800s, U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas, accounted for 29% of the global total. Those 328,000 million metric tons of cumulative emissions are the most of any country and more than three times the amount emitted by China over the same period (93,000 MtCO2), according to data from the World Resources Institute.

Cumulative emissions are responsible for the high levels of CO2 concentrations that are destroying the climate, which means the moral responsibility rests with Americans to show leadership on emissions reductions.

Using WRI data, Greenpeace has written “America’s Share of the Climate Crisis,” which also looks at emissions since 1960:

cumulative-co2-emissions GreenpeaceHere are some more quotable factoids from their report:
  • Historically, no nation has emitted more global warming pollution than the United States. From 1960-2005, the U.S. emitted 213,608 MtCO2, 26% of total global emissions. The next biggest polluter, China, emitted 88,643 MtCO2 over the same time frame, 10.7% of global emissions.
  • The U.S. also exceeded almost every other nation in per capita emissions. Per capita, the U.S. emitted 720 tons of CO2 per person per year from 1960-2005. This is more than ten times China’s per capita emissions (68 tons of CO2) during the same period, and ninety times the per capita emissions of Kenya (7.7 tCO2). Even considered individually, the 50 U.S. states are among the nations that are the largest emitters of carbon dioxide on earth.
  • Even considered individually, the 50 U.S. states are among the nation that are the largest emitters of carbon dioxide on Earth.
  • The average U.S. state emitted 4,449 MtCO2 from 1960-2005, which would rank 30th among the nations of the world. The combined historic emissions of just seven states—Texas, California, Illinois, New York, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Ohio—totalled 96,517 MtCO2, more than any other country in the world, including China (92,950).
  • If Texas were its own country, it would rank sixth out of 184 countries in the world in total emissions, trailing just China, Russia, Germnay, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

Hmm. “If Texas were its own country….” Isn’t that what Governor Rick Perry proposed (see AP story “Gov. Rick Perry: Texas Could Secede, Leave Union“)?

Hmm. Two fewer GOP senators … only 59 votes needed to break a filibuster … a lot easier for progressives to win Presidential elections. Something to dream about…. But I digress.

Time for Americans to lead on emissions reductions.