Bolivia’s high CO2 emissions

Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) with average per capita incomes that do not even reach half the regional average ($4140 for Bolivia compared to $9321 for LAC) (1). Average productivity per person of working age is now exactly the same as it was in 1967 (2), despite the substantial advances in education, health, basic services and available technology over the last four decades.

According to the last census, electricity coverage is about 20% in rural areas and 82% in urban areas. This leads to a very low average electricity consumption of only 479 kWh per person per year, compared to 1715 kWh for the whole LAC region (3). The high level of poverty (60%), together with the very deficient road network, implies that there are only about 5 cars per 100 persons in Bolivia, in comparison to the worldwide average of 16 per 100 persons (4).

This sorry state of affairs suggests that Bolivia probably does not emit much CO2 to the atmosphere. The data suggests an average of 0.8 t CO2 per person per year, compared to the regional average of 2.5 t and the average for OECD countries of 13 t per person per year (5).

However, this number does not include emissions from deforestation, which amounts to about 110 million tons per year, or about 11 tons per person per year (6). This means that total CO2 emissions per capita in Bolivia are quite close to the level of OECD countries.

How does accounting for deforestation change the international debate on carbon emissions? Leave a reply below.

Lykke Andersen is the Director of the Center for Economic and Environmental Modeling and Analysis (CEEMA) at INESAD.

(1) World Development Indicators, 2007, measured in PPP-adjusted international dollars.
(2) Real GDP has grown at an average rate of 2.47% per year between 1967 and 2007 (WDI), which is exactly the same as the average growth rate of the working age population (CEPAL population projections).
(3) World Development Indicators, 2005.
(5) World Development Indicators, approximately 2005.
(6) Deforestation in Bolivia amounts to about 300.000 hectares per year, and each hectare contains an average of 100 tons carbon, which is equivalent to 367 tons of CO2.


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