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The Daily Need

When it comes to carbon, Gibraltar’s got some big feet

Who knew? The tiny British territory of Gibraltar is a climate terror. According to a graphic posted by Miller-McCune last week, Gibraltarians are caught between their rock and a hard place when it comes to CO2 emissions per capita.

Looking at total carbon emissions per nation, there aren’t a lot of surprises — China tops the list, followed by the United States. India, Russia and Japan all run close behind. Asia, Europe and North America are the worst regional offenders.

However, when you start breaking it down by population, a different story emerges. Divided up by China’s 1.3 million people, the country’s carbon footprint shrinks right down to a pretty modest level. Even the U.S. takes on a relative semblance of climate respectability. It’s the greenhouse gas-guzzling Gibraltar that leads the pack, along with the U.S. Virgin Islands and Qatar. Generally, countries that require lots of imports have higher CO2 numbers.

Qatar, for one, says it’s trying to address the problem. Last year, the government released a report on advancing sustainable development. But while it may have eco-friendly goals of reducing carbon emissions and promoting the use of public transportation, a Qatari newspaper recently reported that the Ministry of Business and Trade has demanded lower prices from auto dealers so that cars “are within the reach of limited-income families.” (In a country with one of the highest average incomes in the world, the definition of “limited income” would be interesting to compare to that of other countries.)

Designer of the footprint graphic, Stanford Kay, points out that:

For atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to stabilize, this chart clearly shows, the world’s major emitters — China, the U.S., India, Japan, Russia and the European Union, among others — will have to reduce their carbon footprints. At the same time, it’s clear there is plenty of room for other, smaller countries to reduce their per capita contributions to a problem that threatens all.

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