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Environment and Globalization

Which key environmental challenges have to be addressed?

October 3, 2005

Which key environmental challenges have to be addressed?

While there is no global consensus on how best to fight environmental degradation, most people today recognize that humankind is on an unsustainable path. From pollution and global climate change to the world’s voracious appetite for natural resources, our Globalist Factsheet presents key issues that have to be addressed.

Is global warming a hoax?

The ten warmest years on record all occurred after 1991.
(European Commission)

What else gives reason to worry about climate change?

Due to global warming, plants worldwide are blooming an average of 5.2 days earlier per decade.
(Stanford University)

How about some historical perspective on greenhouse gas emissions?

From 1850 to 2000, the United States was responsible for nearly 30% of global carbon dioxide emissions — making it the world’s top emitter. The European Union’s 25 member states together were responsible for more than 27% of global carbon dioxide emissions — making them the world’s second-biggest emitter.
(Pew Center on Climate Change)

Where do China and India fit in?

From 1850 to 2000, China accounted for 7.3% of cumulative carbon dioxide emissions, fifth-most in the world. By comparison, India was responsible for only 2% of global carbon dioxide emissions — making it the world’s 12th-biggest emitter.
(Pew Center on Climate Change)

What does the future hold?

Among developing countries, emissions are expected to increase 70% for India and 124% for Mexico. China's emissions will grow by 118%, surpassing those of the United States — and making China the world’s largest emitter by 2025.
(Pew Center on Climate Change)

Why are U.S. emissions so high?

The United States currently uses 20.3 million barrels of oil a day — as much as China (6.6 million barrels), Japan (5 million), the former Soviet Union (3.9 million), Germany (2.5 million) and Canada (2.3 million) combined.
(U.S. Energy Information Administration)

Is Canada on track to meet its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol?

Under the Kyoto Protocol, Canada is required to cut greenhouse gas emissions down to 6% below 1990 levels by 2012. However, Canada’s overall emissions are about 20% above 1990 levels as of 2005.
(Wall Street Journal)

How is the European Union doing in this regard?

Under the Kyoto Protocol, the EU is supposed to cut global-warming emissions to 8% below 1990 levels by 2012. To meet that goal, the EU should have cut emission by 4.8% in 2002 — when, in effect, its members only cut emissions by 2.9%.
(Wall Street Journal)

And Japan?

Japan pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 6% from 1990 levels over the period of 2008 to 2012. However, as of 2002, Japan’s emissions were 7.6% above 1990 levels — and are expected to increase to 8%.
(Financial Times)

What might be the future environmental impact of China's economic ascent?

If China had the same level of automobile ownership as the United States (at 0.77 cars per person), it would have a fleet of 1.1 billion cars — 38% larger than the current world fleet of 795 million.
(Earth Policy Institute)

How high a price is China already paying for its polluted air?

As of 2004, costs to human health from air pollution in China already account for 2-3% of GDP annually and will reach $390 billion (or 13% of GDP) by 2020 — if the country continues on its current track.
(Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning)

Just how bad is the situation?

In mid-August 2004, air pollution in Hong Kong was so severe that visibility in the harbor fell to 550 meters — and contributed to eight collisions in the harbor.
(Earth Policy Institute)

Which other major challenge awaits the world?

While the world population has tripled during the past century, the use of water has increased sevenfold.
(Wall Street Journal)

What has been one consequence of increased water use?

The Colorado River, the Rio Grande, the Indus in India and Pakistan and the Yellow River in China no longer consistently reach the sea.
(Wall Street Journal)

Apart from water shortages, which other problem looms large?

As of 2004, the amount of raw sewage entering India’s Ganges river every minute is 1.1 million liters — or just under 300,000 gallons.
(World Health Organization)

And finally, which fact of African life is unknown to many Westerners?

Some 40 billion working hours in Africa each year are used up to collect drinking water.
(UK Treasury)