Which countries in the world emit the most carbon dioxide and other GHGs?

Developed countries (U.S.A, Japan and Germany) and major emerging economies such as China, India and the Russian Federation lead in total carbon dioxide emissions. This analysis reflects where CO2 is produced and does not include aviation or shipping as there is disagreement about how to count emissions which cross country borders. 

 

Asia is by far the largest emitting continent accounting for 53% of total CO2 emissions in 2018, though it has 60% of the global population. North America and Europe (28 countries) are almost equivalent with18% and 17% share respectively. Africa, South America and Oceania collectively representing less than 10% of the remainder.

 

China is by far the largest emitting country - 10 billion tonnes of CO2 per annum - an equivalent of 28% of the global total. 

China's pledge in Q4 2020 to be carbon neutral by 2060 is, therefore a very significant commitment to invest in clean energy and energy efficiencies and address climate change.

The U.S.A is the second largest global emitter by country at 15% and it is hoped that President-elect Joe Biden will bring the U.S.A. back into the Paris Agreement 2016 within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and that the U.S.A. will equally commit to significant emission reduction goals. In December 2020 the EU countries agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and targets 2050 to achieve its net-zero carbon goal.

 

For further information go to ourworldindata.org/annual-CO2-emissions. Interactive charts show each country's share of global emissions and how they have changed over time since 1751. Asia's rapid rise in CO2 emissions only occurred in recent decades as a result of massive improvements (especially in China) in bringing populations out of extreme poverty, raising living standards, life expectancy and education standards. The challenge for the world is to continue important country development across all metrics expect carbon emissions, i.e. develop nations on the back of clean energy.

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