Australia, known for its expansive wilderness and biodiversity, is also one of the world's worst polluters, according to an informative new emissions monitoring website from the Center for Global Development.
Per capita, Australians produce 10 tons of carbon dioxide every year from generating power. That's two tons more than the average American and almost eight tons more than the average Chinese person. Australia relies heavily on coal and as such, the country has some of the world's least efficient power plants. In terms of total emissions, the United States is still on top with more than 2.5 billion tons of CO2. Like with everything else, however, China is closing the gap fast.
Australia is also one of the world's top exporters of coal, and China is becoming a good customer now that its power needs exceed its domestic coal production. As The Economist puts it, "Energy lore has it that in China a new coal-burning plant is fired up every week... Freighters are literally queuing up off Newcastle, Australia, the world's busiest coal port."
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