Biggest carbon emitter blame game troubles COP26 talks

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Steam rises from Neurath lignite power plant, in Grevenbroich, Germany, January 16, 2020. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

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GLASGOW, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Disputes over money are complicating efforts to get a deal at the U.N. climate talks, as developing countries push for rich nations to shoulder the costs of climate change.

Part of the problem is there is no simple answer to who is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases that cause global warming, a charge that developing nations lay at the feet of rich ones.

While China and the United States top the emissions chart, historically and in terms of current absolute figures, on a per capita basis China drops down the rankings and Qatar - which produces all of its energy from CO2-emitting oil and gas - shoots to the top, Our World in Data figures show.

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Britain, host of the COP26 talks in Glasgow, Scotland, is arguably where global warming began as it gave birth in around 1750 to the industrial revolution, which was driven by coal, the most polluting form of fossil fuel.

It remained the largest CO2 polluter until 1911 when the United States took over the top spot.

The United States has since remained a major emitter and, although China has overtaken it in terms of absolute emissions per year, in total China has only emitted about half as much carbon dioxide as the total pumped out by United States since the mid-18th century.

Ranked by per capita emissions, the United States is in 13th place and China 41st, while India, the third biggest annual emitter today has only the 131st highest emissions per person as many of its vast population have no access to power.

The question of historical responsibility has loomed over COP26, where developing countries are pushing rich nations to provide more funding to help them find alternatives to fossil fuels and adapt to climate change.

So far, the money has not arrived, complicating efforts to curb global warming as some developing nations say they cannot afford to cut emissions faster without more financial help.

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Writing by Barbara Lewis; Editing by Alexander Smith

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