A report released by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency suggests that China has overtaken the US in terms of CO2 emissions and is the world's top emitter of the gaseous substance.

While China was 2 percent behind the US in 2005, voracious coal consumption and increased cement production has caused the numbers to rise rapidly and the country was ahead by 8 percent last year. This increase has surpassed previous predictions, as earlier figures suggested that China would exceed the US in greenhouse gas emissions as early as 2009.

Dr. Jos G.J. Olivier, the Dutch environmental agency's senior scientist, compiled the figures and commented, $quot;It's an expression of their fast industrial production activities and their fast development. China's growth will saturate at some point. But for now, we don't see a trend (toward) this saturation yet.$quot;

The study said China produced 6,200 million metric tons of CO2 in 2006, in comparison to the US's production of 5,800 million metric tons. The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency is independent but paid by the Dutch government to advise it on environmental policy and these latest figures have been deemed credible by other sources.

John Christensen, head of the United Nations Environment Program's Centre on Energy, Climate and Sustainable Development in Denmark, affirmed this as he said, $quot;The Dutch agency referred to BP statistics, which is the standard reference tool. We have no reason to doubt that the numbers are right. We have no reason to doubt the methodology.$quot;

The research is based on data on fossil fuel consumption from the BP Review of Energy 2007 and does not include other sources of CO2, such as deforestation and the flaring of gas in oil and gas production.
China's population of 1.3bn people is 4 times that of the US.