French President Emmanuel Macron believes the 27 member bloc has already done more than other major economies to reduce emissions. Is it true?
Last Thursday, during the presentation of a plan on how to reindustrialise France, President Macron urged the EU to pause imposing environmental regulations. His reasoning? That the 27-member bloc had already done far more than other major economies such as the US and China.
"I call for a European regulatory pause. Now we have to implement it. We must not make new changes to the rules because we will lose all the industry players. So we need stability," said the French leader.
It’s an announcement that prompted a lot of criticism from the left as well as from environmental groups in France.
Manuel Bompard, a French left-wing MP, tweeted “Climate change doesn't take a break. This request is irresponsible.”
Whereas Roland Lescure, the French Minister representing industry, defended Macron, saying Europeans emit much less than China, the US and India. Indian Prime Minister Modi has previously responded to those who criticise his country's emissions.
During an interview with French radio, Lescure attempted to justify Macron's controversial statement: "He was talking about the fact that a European emits less carbon than a Chinese, than an American, than an Indian. Europe is the only area to have reduced its greenhouse gases over the past 20 years, by around 20%. The others have increased their emissions by 10%, 300% or 400%."
Is that true? To dig deeper, we looked at which countries are the largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters per capita.
According to a UN report published in 2022, the US is the largest GHG emitter with over 14 tons of CO2 per capita, followed by Russia at 13 tons of CO2 per capita, then China at 9.7 tons.
The EU is still one of the largest emitters placing sixth with 7.2 tons of CO2 per capita while the world average is approximately 6.3 tons per capita.
Contrary to what the French Industry Minister announced, the EU emits 3 times more greenhouse gases than India (2.4 tons per capita).
However, it is true the EU is one of the rare parts of the world that has reduced its emissions in recent years.
Since the 1990s, these have decreased by approximately 24%, according to the World Bank.
The US’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 3.7% over the same period.
China, on the other hand, saw its emissions increase by nearly 300% during the same time period. India saw a rise of 178% in its emissions.
Was Macron right?
It's true that Europe is moving faster than other countries when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
But a United Nations report released in 2021 found that even if every country in the world pledged to reduce its emissions, the planet would still see an increase in temperature of 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, leading to what they say would be "catastrophic changes."
According to climate scientists, the only way to mitigate these effects would be for countries to drastically transform their economies.