Dashboard Week – Day 5 Spent Exploring China’s CO2 Emissions

by Gloria Montgomery

For today’s challenge we were given three hours to visualise data on any of the following data sets:

  • Babies per Woman
  • CO2 emissions
  • Child mortality
  • Income
  • Life Expectancy

My first point of call was to do some very basic data preparation on the files and combine them into a single dataset, before exploring the data in Tableau and deciding what topic(s) to get visualising.

I quickly determined that I would be most interested in exploring global CO2 emissions, focusing specifically on China. China’s CO2 emissions stand out in stark contrast to that of all other nations and due to an increased demand for coal, oil and gas to fuel China’s energy intensive industries, China has continued to backslide on climate progress in recent years.

Given that the data on CO2 emissions was calculated by metric tonnes per person, I realised I wanted to go back to the dataprep stage and pull in population data in order to look at total emissions for each country as a whole rather than per head. Looking at data on the individual level allowed China to mask its true contribution to the global climate crisis.

I decided to focus on the period from 1960 to 2014, which was up to the most recent year of data given to us. One of the reasons for this was because a lot of the data for countries around the world wasn’t available historically, so figures wouldn’t have been accurate. It would have been really interesting if data been available up until 2019, given that it wasn’t until 2015 that the Paris Agreement was signed; the UN framework for dealing with greenhouse gas emissions and sets national benchmarks in moving towards reduction.

Viz Below:

I opted to focus on China because their CO2 emissions are having a particularly damaging impact on Tibet. Like the Arctic and Pacific Island nations, Tibet – known as the Third Pole – is on the frontline of global climate change, warming on average three times as fast as the rest of the world. The impacts of China’s CO2 emissions, including rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns and 8 billion tonnes of ice being lost each year from Tibet’s glaciers, are being felt far beyond Tibet’s wildlife and ecosystems, but affect the water security of 1.5 billion people downstream, in China, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Pakistan.

Given China’s rates of emission, in order to limit global warming to below 2°C as required under the Paris Agreement, other states will have to make much bigger reductions at comparably greater effort in order to offset the damaging impact of China’s policies on our climate….

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