While searching for material on global environmental governance for my IPE class--I am the very model of a modern IPE instructor--I came across a very informative piece from Science Daily regarding recession and carbon emissions. The gist of it is as I mentioned above was nary a blip in LDCs' emissions, powered especially by major emerging economies:
The sharp decrease in global carbon dioxide emissions attributed to the worldwide financial crisis in 2009 quickly rebounded in 2010, according to research supported by the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In 2010, emissions reached an all-time high of 9.1 billion tons of carbon, compared with 8.6 billion tons in 2009. The downturn was also followed by milestone carbon dioxide emissions from the developing world's emerging economies. In developing countries, consumption-based emissions, or those emissions associated with the consumption of goods and services, increased 6.1 percent over 2009 and 2010.The news release further argues that the increasing energy intensity of the world economy (more energy inputs needed per GDP of output) accounts for this unpromising pattern. The accompanying graph tells the story. Note that it separates these emissions into production and consumption:
As a result, 2009 marked the first time that developing countries had higher consumption-based emissions than developed countries. "Previously, developed countries released more carbon dioxide, but that's no longer true due to emerging economies in developing countries, such as China and India," said Tom Boden of ORNL's CDIAC. "This trend will likely continue in the future based on current developments."
It puts me in a bind. While perhaps unfair to LDCs, the honest truth is that Mother Earth could not care less if these emissions emanate from rich or poor nations.
NOTE: The US Energy Information Administration has specific emissions figures for countries such as superpolluters China and the United States that mirror the findings above. Indeed, the current slowdown in manufacturing activity in China--five straight monthly declines--may bode better for the environment than the global financial crisis did.