Greenpeace Banner at G-20 in Pittsburgh
It looks like Japan (emits around 4% of the world's greenhouse gases) and China (bypassed the US as the #1 emitter in 2006) are the only economic powers at least trying to speak seriously about stopping global warming. Greenpeace's Climate Rescue Blog states: "...key countries like Germany, France and the US are lagging far behind."
Although some Japanese corporate voices naysay Hatoyama's goal and although Japan has fallen behind 1997 Kyoto Protocol targets––Andrew DeWitt, a Rikkyo University professor, and Iida Tetsunari, head of the Tokyo-based Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, make a case for Hatoyama's case for a 25% cut in Japanese greenhouse gases by 2020 at Japan Focus.
But can one nation make enough of a difference?
Rising levels of emission in 2008 shocked the world's scientists, who expected a decrease from the global economic downturn, according to the Los Angeles Times:
The world pumped up emissions of the chief human-produced global warming gas last year, setting a course that could push beyond leading scientists' projected worst-case scenario, international researchers said Thursday.China was responsible for more than half of these increase because of heavy industries. Additionally, many countries have shifted their manufacturing (thus, their carbon emissions) to China:
The new numbers, which some scientists called "scary," were a surprise because experts thought an economic downturn would slow energy use. Instead, carbon dioxide output rose 3% from 2006 to 2007.
That amount exceeds the most dire outlook for emissions from burning coal and oil and related activities as projected by a Nobel Prize-winning group of international scientists in 2007.
Meanwhile, forests and oceans, which suck up carbon dioxide, are doing so at lower rates, scientists said. If those trends continue, the world will be on track for the highest predicted rises in temperature and sea level.
"We're shipping jobs offshore from the U.S., but we're also shipping carbon dioxide emissions with them," Marland said. "China is making fertilizer and cement and steel, and all of those are heavy energy-intensive industries."
Developing countries not asked to reduce greenhouse gases by the 1997 Kyoto treaty -- China and India are among them -- now account for 53% of carbon dioxide pollution. That group of nations surpassed industrialized ones in carbon dioxide emissions in 2005, an analysis of older figures shows.
India is in position to beat Russia for the No. 3 carbon dioxide polluter behind the U.S., Marland said. Indonesia's levels are increasing rapidly.