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Reproduced from Rhodium Group; Note: OECD tally includes all European Union member states; Chart: Axios Visuals

The distribution of global greenhouse gas emissions has reached an inflection point: China's emissions exceeded developed nations combined in 2019, a new Rhodium Group analysis concludes.

Why it matters: "The shifting dynamics of global emissions — with China surpassing the developed world for the first time — means that meeting the Paris goals will require significant and rapid action from all countries," Kate Larsen, a director at Rhodium, tells Axios.

The big picture: Rhodium compared China's emissions to nations in the multilateral Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as of 2019 and all 27 EU members. The chart above shows totals.

  • The analysis also showed that on a per-capita basis, China's 2019 emissions were close to the OECD average. The firm expects that the final 2020 data will show China's per-capita emissions exceeded the OECD average.
  • Rhodium's Larsen notes China's per-capita rise stems from higher living standards, China's relatively fossil-intensive power mix and its export-focused manufacturing.

What we're watching: The steps China takes — or doesn't — in coming years to breathe life into its pledge to have its emissions peak before 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2060.

By the numbers: China's emissions are over a quarter of the world's total. Their per-capita emissions were over 10 tons of CO2-equivalent in 2019, but that's still far below the world-leading U.S. at 17.6 tons, per Rhodium.

Reproduced from Rhodium Group; Note: OECD tally includes all European Union member states; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, but: China's emissions look very different when measured on a historical basis.

Why it matters: It helps explain why nations that industrialized first bear such responsibility for tackling warming, even as emissions growth is centered in the Asia-Pacific.

The big picture: "A large share of the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere each year hangs around for hundreds of years. As a result, current global warming is the result of emissions from both the recent and more distant past," Rhodium notes.

Go deeper

EIA report: Carbon emissions expected to increase in 2021

Reproduced from EIA; Chart: Axios Visuals

Coal consumption for electricity generation is expected to increase by 17% this year due to higher natural gas prices that are temporarily making coal more cost-competitive, according to the latest Short Term Energy Outlook released by the Energy Information Administration Tuesday.

Why it matters: Coal is the most carbon-intensive fuel, so any uptick in its use, even temporarily, can have a significant influence on carbon emissions.

2 hours ago - Health

Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New data from South Africa suggests the Omicron variant spreads more than twice as quickly as the Delta variant, and that immunity from prior infection doesn't appear to protect a person very well against Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The findings are extremely preliminary, and there are still many open questions about how well vaccines work against the variant. But these initial breadcrumbs of data are helping the world begin to understand what it's up against.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
3 hours ago - Technology

AI could end foreign-language subtitles

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

AI companies are developing methods to translate and synthesize voices in ads, movies and TV.

Why it matters: The advances in voice synthesis could help fix bad movie dubbing — and they come as international content is becoming increasingly important to studios and streaming platforms as part of the globalization of entertainment.