December 26, 2020


Dean Baker:

“It is more than a bit annoying to hear reporters endlessly refer to China as the world’s second largest economy. It isn’t. It’s the world’s largest economy and has been since 2017. Here are the data from the International Monetary Fund. …”

“… The fact that China has a larger GDP than the United States is important for policy debates since many people seem to hold illusions about the ability of the U.S. to influence China. While the United States can take steps that will damage China’s economy, even the harshest measures will only have limited impact, and China will be able to take steps to overcome them through time. This is important background for debates on China policy.”

Note: This point about “the ability of the U.S. to influence China” – or the lack thereof – is especially important in the context of international climate negotiations where the U.S. faces the additional handicap of its unique degree of culpability for the problem and its world-famous irresponsibility, though that’s not what Baker’s talking about here. For whatever reason, the point about the shifting bargaining advantage is never mentioned by anyone in connection with climate negotiation. Another way to put it is that the US has been unable to coerce the developing world into an unequal but effective climate treaty for three decades and the prospects are far worse now. The logical implication is that an American re-evaluation of realistic options is long overdue. Regarding the exact date that Chinese GDP passed US GDP, the IMF began reporting the shift in 2014 (not 2017). Baker was one of the only people to acknowledge this as it happened. Another was Joseph Stiglitz who wrote in Vanity Fair (December 4, 2014):

“When the history of 2014 is written, it will take note of a large fact that has received little attention: 2014 was the last year in which the United States could claim to be the world’s largest economic power. China enters 2015 in the top position, where it will likely remain for a very long time, if not forever. In doing so, it returns to the position it held through most of human history.”

December 27, 2020


NOAA-ESRL/Scripps (“In-situ CO2 Data”):

December 27, 2020, CO2 414.99 ppm
December 27, 2019, CO2 412.63 ppm
December 27, 2018, CO2 408.81 ppm
December 27, 2017, CO2 407.63 ppm
December 27, 2016, CO2 404.39 ppm
December 27, 2015, CO2 401.78 ppm
December 27, 2014, CO2 398.59 ppm
December 27, 2013, CO2 397.40 ppm
December 27, 2012, CO2 394.94 ppm
December 27, 2011, CO2 392.20 ppm
December 27, 2010, CO2 389.58 ppm
December 27, 2000, CO2 369.63 ppm
December 27, 1992, CO2 355.79 ppm (year of UNFCCC)
December 27, 1980, CO2 338.91 ppm
December 27, 1960, CO2 316.59 ppm

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