THE REpuBLIC OF the Congo, a former French colony, has a land area of 132,047 sq. mi. (342,000 sq. km.), with a population of 3,999,000 (2006 est.), and a population density of 31 people per sq. mi. (12 people per sq. km.). Forests cover 62 percent of the country, with less than one percent of arable land, and 29 percent used for meadows and pasture, mainly for low-intensity grazing. The substantial cattle industry contributes to the country's methane emissions.
The carbon dioxide emissions from the Congo, on a per capita level, are relatively low: 0.5 metric tons in 1990, rising to 0.8 metric tons in 1997, and falling to 0.37 metric tons in 2003. This low rate is because of the dense forests that cover a large part of the country, and the fact that 99.3 percent of the electricity production in the country comes from hydropower. Most of the carbon dioxide emissions (91 percent) come from liquid fuels, some from gas flaring from the recently established petroleum industry, and the remainder from gaseous fuels. Most emissions are contributed by transportation, due to a poor system of public transportation, and limited train service.
The Congo government of Denis Sassou-Nguesso took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992, and his successor, Pascal Lissouba, ratified the Vienna Convention. The Congo ratified the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on February 12, 2007, the 167th country to do so.
SEE ALSO: Congo, Democratic Republic; Forests; Methane Cycle.
BIBLIOGRAPHY. "Congo—Climate and Atmosphere," www .earthtrends.wri.org (cited October 2007); Kate Eshelby, "Endangered Eden," Geographical (v.76/5, 2004); Eugene Linden, "The Last Eden," Time Magazine (v.140/2, 1992).
JUSTIN CORFIELD Geelong Grammar School, Australia
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