UAE, Australia and U.S. top list of carbon emitters

OSLO (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates, Australia and the United States have the worst overall records for emitting greenhouse gases, according to an index published on Wednesday combining current and historic emissions.

The skyline of downtown Los Angeles through a layer of smog is seen in the distance from a rooftop in Hollywood, California, May 31, 2006. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files

The top of the 183-nation ranking, compiled by British consultancy Maplecroft, was dominated by rich countries and OPEC members. It said it aimed to alert investors to countries vulnerable if U.N.-led climate talks ever agreed wider penalties on carbon.

The ranking of carbon dioxide emissions from energy use placed the UAE top, largely because of a sharp rise in emissions in recent years linked to desalination plants in an economy almost entirely dependent on fossil fuels.

“Desalination is a positive way to address water security but high emissions underline the need to find more energy-efficient innovations,” Maplecroft said in a statement.

Australia, dependent on coal, was second ahead of the United States, by far the biggest cumulative emitter since 1900 and now the number two national emitter behind China. Both Australians and Americans have high per capita emissions.

They were trailed by Canada, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Russia, Belgium and Kazakhstan in the top 10.

The index gave a 50 percent weighting to current per capita emissions of greenhouse gases, 25 percent to total national emissions and the remaining 25 percent to cumulative historic emissions.

Annual U.N. climate talks will take place in the Caribbean resort of Cancun, Mexico, from November 29 to December 10.

A treaty to limit emissions is out of reach for 2010 as part of efforts to slow rising temperatures which the U.N. panel of climate scientists says will lead to more droughts, heat waves, mudslides, floods and rising seas.

“As the world moves toward a low carbon economy, more rigorous environmental policies may leave companies exposed to costly operating expenses and new investment requirements,” said Maplecroft’s head of maps and indices, Fiona Place.

China was 26th in the index. Its per capita emissions from a population of 1.3 billion are a fraction of those of industrialized countries such as the United States or Australia.

African countries with low emissions were bottom of the list. Chad, where only about 2 percent of the population have access to electricity, was last in 183rd place.

Reporting by Alister Doyle; editing by Andrew Dobbie