The nation’s per-person emissions last year were almost double the 1.6 tones average across G20 members, and virtually three times the average of 1.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted by every person worldwide.
Twelve of the Group of 20 nations saw their per capita emissions decline as they shifted towards clean energy sources.
Australia and South Korea remained the top emitters in 2022, despite achieving reductions of 26 per cent and 10 per cent respectively since 2015.
“As mature economies, they should be scaling up renewable electricity ambitiously and confidently enough to enable coal to be phased out by 2030.”
However, China’s substantial increase is also worrisome.
“I think the main concern is what this country’s ranking will look like in the future. Australia and South Korea’s coal power will fall substantially this decade, soon leaving China at the top of ranking,” said Jones. “The next countries [ranked by per capita emissions] – South Africa, Japan, the US and Germany – will also fall, leaving a very large gap between China and the rest of the world, unless China makes significant progress to cut coal power itself.”
India’s coal power emissions rose from 0.62 tonnes per person in 2015 to 0.80 tonnes seven years later, Ember found.
But things may have got worse. This summer, the country has stepped up its use of the fossil fuel to generate electricity in a bid to stop outages caused by lower hydroelectricity output, and as an increase in renewables is struggling to keep pace with record power demand, according to Reuters.
The driest August in more than a century resulted in power generation surging to a record 162.7 billion kilowatt hours (units), a Reuters analysis of data from the federal grid operator showed. Coal’s share in power output rose to 66.7 per cent in August, the highest for the month in six years, according to a Reuters analysis of government data.
Major fossil fuel producers, including China, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Indonesia, opposed a proposal in July to triple G20 countries’ renewable energy capacity by 2030, while India took a neutral stand on the issue. The countries are also divided on making the commitment to phase down fossil fuels.
China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, has made ambitious plans to bring its total installed capacity of wind and solar power to over 1,200 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 to support the country’s 2060 carbon-neutral goal. With 757GW of wind and solar already operating, and an additional 750GW in the pipeline, China’s 2030 target will be met five years ahead of schedule, according to non-profit Global Energy Monitor.
Despite most of the G20 economies managing to bring down their per capita coal power emissions, the speed of the transition towards renewable energy is still not enough to keep global warming within the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit required to avert environmental disaster, according to Ember.
The think tank calls on the member countries to set and commit to more ambitious targets by tripling their renewables capacity by 2030, and making plans to phase out coal.
“The G20 nations are at a critical juncture to show leadership and drive global actions to end fossil fuels and usher in an era of clean power. As the world’s largest economies, the G20 has the opportunity to prepare the scene at the G20 Summit for determined actions,” the report said.