Carbon emissions: U.S. fares better when considering climate

June 15, 2012 by Bernie DeGroat, University of Michigan

( -- The U.S. has long been among the world's worst emitters of carbon dioxide, but when accounting for climate in addition to GDP, it is nowhere near the bottom of that list, according to University of Michigan researchers.

"Increased concern about has resulted in efforts to create methods for ranking countries according to their ," said Michael Sivak, director of Sustainable Worldwide Transportation at the U-M Transportation Research Institute. "Such rankings inform on an international scale. The more comprehensive these rankings are, the better our chances of reducing emissions."

Sivak and UMTRI colleague Brandon Schoettle say that some rankings adjust the total amount of emissions to account for the size of each country's population (per capita) and its overall (per GDP). But they believe it's important to go one step further: account for the general heating and cooling demands imposed by the climate of a given country because climate control produces carbon dioxide emissions.

"A system that includes the variable of local climate provides a fairer measure of carbon dioxide emissions," Sivak said. "Our approach involves adjusting the amount of emissions in accordance with the total number of heating degree days and cooling degree days."

Under that method, the U.S. improves from No. 152 out of 157 countries to No. 100 on a per capita, GDP and heating-and-cooling-degree-day basis. Heating and cooling degree days relate to the amount of energy needed to heat and cool buildings. One heating (cooling) degree day occurs for each degree the average daily is below (above) 65 degrees .

In a new study in American Scientist, Sivak and Schoettle use three variables for each of the 157 countries: carbon dioxide emissions per capita; emissions per capita and GDP (adjusted for differences in purchasing power between countries); and emissions per capita, and heating and cooling degree days.

Accounting for climate, the researchers found that Finland, Canada, Russia, Norway, Slovakia, Lithuania and Estonia—all cold-weather countries—showed the most improvement among the world's nations. Ethiopia, Guatemala, Malawi, Zambia, Kenya, Peru and Costa Rica—all with mild climates—dropped the most on the list.

Other countries that fared better when using heating-and-cooling-degree days included Britain, Germany, Sweden, China and India. Those that did worse included Australia, Brazil, Israel and Mexico.

The five best countries when climate is considered were Chad, Afghanistan, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. The five worst countries were Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkmenistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Uzbekistan and South Africa. South Africa, the highest emitter, produces about 61 times more emissions than Chad, the lowest emitter.

"Overall, our results suggest that taking climate into account makes a significant difference in how countries fare in emissions rankings," Sivak said. "Because people respond to the climate they live in by heating and cooling indoor spaces, an index that incorporates provides a fairer yardstick than an index that does not."

Explore further: Hotspots in developing countries will fuel demand for global energy

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2.8 / 5 (5) Jun 15, 2012
Nice try.....but no. The power consumption data along with these countries methods of power generation are the only viable pieces of information for calculating carbon emissions. You can't just say that because it was over 65 degrees every day in trinidad and tobago, everyone who lives there has an air conditioner, turned it on and increased the countries per capita emissions. This information is easily attainable:


Trinidad and Tobago's power consumption per person is less than half the US number, just for electricity alone. This is truly laughable.
2.3 / 5 (6) Jun 15, 2012
US fares the worst according to the graphs from the UN.
2.2 / 5 (10) Jun 15, 2012
Yes, I think the USA should be the most responsible for CO2 emissions. Since the USA has done by far the most to increase health and life expectancy, and does the most in raw dollar amount to help humanity generally and has so for generations.... I'd say the rest of the planet still owes the USA a dept.

If they really want to settle up, then I'm fine with that. Let's start counting it up....
2.3 / 5 (6) Jun 16, 2012
"Because people respond to the climate they live in by heating and cooling indoor spaces, an index that incorporates climate provides a fairer yardstick than an index that does not."


I can see why the AGW cult members hate it. They don't care if you need to heat your home in the winter. They want you to freeze and die.

not rated yet Jun 18, 2012
"Because people respond to the climate they live in by heating and cooling indoor spaces, an index that incorporates climate provides a fairer yardstick than an index that does not."

American Logic.

Since you can't change the true numbers, try counting them twice to reduce the discrepancy between us and the world.....they won't notice.

I can see why the TRULY logical AGW global members hate it. They care if you need to heat your home in the winter. They want NotParker to freeze and die.

"I'd say the rest of the planet still owes the USA a dept."

BLAHAHAHHAHA!!!! Only an American could possibly say this and believe it to be true. Try asking ANYONE from ANY other country on the planet.

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