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2020 CO2 Emissions

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Carbon Footprint by Country 2023

A carbon footprint is a measure of the total greenhouse gas emissions (primarily carbon dioxide and methane) caused by an individual, community, event, organization, service, product, or nation. A greenhouse gas (GHG) is a gas that absorbs and emits thermal radiation, creating a “greenhouse effect” that traps heat near the Earth’s surface and ultimately warms the planet.

Greenhouse gases are important in maintaining the Earth’s habitable temperature. However, an overabundance of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere can disrupt Earth’s carbon cycle and accelerate global warming. This is the scenario unfolding at present, with the main contributor of greenhouse gases being emissions caused by excessive consumption of fossil fuels. When discussing emissions on a national or global scale, carbon footprint is typically expressed in units of CO2—typically metric tons (1,000 kg/2,205 lb = 1 t), million tons (1,000,000 t = 1 Mt) or gigatons (1 billion metric tons/1,000 Mt = 1 GT).

Reducing the Carbon Footprint

Generally, developed nations have higher carbon footprints and higher CO2 emissions per country. This is largely due to their more robust energy industries, which burn large amounts of fossil fuels to provide electricity, and a larger percentage of residents who own their own automobiles, which contribute greatly to emissions. Industries such as manufacturing and meat production are also noted contributors.

Nations can reduce their carbon footprint in many ways. Methods often employed include generating electricity from renewable energy sources (solar, wind, hydroelectric) instead of fossil fuels, improving energy efficiency, promoting biofuels in transportation, reducing CO2 emissions from vehicles, recovering greenhouse gases such as methane from landfills and smokestacks, charging a carbon tax on industries that emit GHGs, and reversing deforestation.

Many countries have pledged to use these and other steps to become carbon neutral, which means they remove as much CO2 as they release. In fact, a few countries have managed to become carbon negative countries that remove even more CO2 from the air than they add to it. Individual citizens can also reduce their carbon footprint by choosing to walk, bike, carpool, or use public transportation instead of driving, using reusable containers or bottles instead of individual plastic ones, reducing overall electricity usage, and eating less red meat.

Carbon Footprint by Country

According to the European Union's Joint Research Centre, total global CO2 emissions increased from 34.1 GT in 2010 to 37.9 GT—an all-time high—in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic and its related restrictions on travel and transportation triggered a decrease to 35.962 GT in 2020, but emissions are expected to resume increasing once 2021 totals become available. China is the largest emitter of CO2 in the world, with 11680 Mt (11.680 GT) of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020. This is just over 32% of the world’s total 2020 emissions. The United States released the second-highest amount of carbon emissions at 4.535 GT, or roughly 12.6% of the total global emissions.

Top 10 CO2-emitting countries in the world (Total CO2 in Mt) - EU JRC 2020

  1. China — 11680.42
  2. United States — 4535.30
  3. India — 2411.73
  4. Russia — 1674.23
  5. Japan — 1061.77
  6. Iran — 690.24
  7. Germany — 636.88
  8. South Korea — 621.47
  9. Saudi Arabia — 588.81
  10. Indonesia — 568.27

Total emissions, however, fall short of telling the full story. For example, sharp-eyed observers may notice that the top three emitters are also three of the most populous countries on Earth, so it stands to reason that their emissions would be higher than that of countries with a fraction as many residents. For a more accurate measure of whether a country's policies are succeeding or failing to reduce CO2 emissions, it is often helpful to examine not only total emissions, but also CO2 emissions per capita.

Top 15 Countries with the Highest CO2 Emissions per Capita (t) - EU JRC 2020

  1. Palau — 55.29
  2. Qatar — 35.64
  3. Trinidad and Tobago — 21.97
  4. Bahrain — 21.60
  5. Kuwait — 20.91
  6. United Arab Emirates — 20.70
  7. Brunei Darussalam — 17.95
  8. Saudi Arabia — 16.96
  9. Oman — 16.9
  10. Australia — 15.22
  11. Canada — 14.43
  12. Kazakhstan — 14.22
  13. United States — 13.68
  14. Turkmenistan — 13.37
  15. Luxembourg — 13.24

By this measure, the U.S. has the thirteenth-highest per capita emissions at 13.68 tons, while Russia is 20th (11.64), Japan is 26th (8.39), China is 28th (8.20), and India is 110th with a mere 1.74 tons per capita. Meanwhile, a number of developing nations occupy the top spots, largely due to less-regulated energy, industry, and transportation industries.

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Country
2020 CO2 Emissions (Mt)
2017 CO2 Emissions (Mt)
2020 Emissions Per Capita
2017 Emissions Per Capita
China11,68010,8778.27.7
United States4,5355,10713.6815.7
India2,4122,4551.741.8
Russia1,6741,76511.6412.3
Japan1,0621,3218.3910.4
Iran6906718.268.3
Germany6377977.729.7
South Korea62167312.0713.2
Saudi Arabia58963916.9619.4
Indonesia5685112.091.9
Canada54361714.4316.9
Brazil4524932.112.4
South Africa4354687.418.2
Mexico4085073.053.9
Turkey4054304.835.3
Australia38640215.2216.5
Vietnam3222193.272.3
United Kingdom3143794.665.7
Italy2973615.036.1
San Marino2973615.036.1
Vatican City2973615.036.1
Poland2933197.718.4
Taiwan28128011.7811.8
France2803384.265.2
Monaco2803384.265.2
Egypt2702592.622.7
Kazakhstan26726614.2214.6
Malaysia2622597.988.2
Thailand2552793.684
Pakistan2171971.041
Spain2152824.626.1
Andorra2152824.626.1
United Arab Emirates20320320.721.6
Iraq1911994.615.2
Ukraine1892064.344.7
Argentina1772103.884.7
Algeria1631603.773.9
Netherlands1451758.4210.3
Philippines1391371.271.3
Nigeria127950.620.5
Bangladesh109850.640.5
Qatar999835.6437.1
Czech Republic921108.6610.3
Uzbekistan90952.723
Colombia90751.81.5
Kuwait909720.9123.5
Venezuela891462.684.6
Oman877816.916.9
Chile85904.585
Turkmenistan817213.3712.6
Serbia78628.316.6
Montenegro788.31
Romania76813.914.1
Morocco68621.831.7
Austria64727.258.3
Israel62677.168
Belarus59626.266.6
Greece56725.066.5
Singapore56559.459.6
Libya53587.99
Hungary49515.145.2
Peru44561.341.7
Sweden42514.185.1
Norway42527.7410
Laos4235.840.4
Finland41477.298.5
Portugal40573.965.5
Mongolia382611.918.4
Bulgaria38505.487
Myanmar38280.690.5
Bahrain373621.624
Switzerland35404.074.7
Liechtenstein35404.074.7
Azerbaijan34333.363.3
Ecuador33401.922.4
New Zealand33376.837.8
Ireland33396.688.2
Hong Kong32454.36.1
North Korea32381.251.5
Slovakia32385.856.9
Trinidad and Tobago303821.9727.6
Dominican Republic29232.622.1
Tunisia29322.42.7
Lebanon27234.453.8
Jordan26252.592.5
Denmark26344.435.9
Syria26281.351.6
Sri Lanka24241.131.1
Bosnia and Herzegovina23266.77.3
Cuba233122.7
Angola23310.691
Bolivia21201.791.9
Sudan20210.350.4
South Sudan20210.350.4
Guatemala20181.11.1
Nepal1880.590.3
Croatia18174.34.2
Ethiopia17150.150.1
Ghana17190.540.6
Kenya16190.310.4
Cambodia16110.950.7
Estonia141811.0513.7
Slovenia14156.627.3
Lithuania14154.755.3
Ivory Coast12130.460.5
Afghanistan12110.310.3
Zimbabwe12120.650.7
Tanzania11150.180.3
Kyrgyzstan11111.821.8
Honduras11111.091.1
Georgia10122.683
Yemen10130.340.4
Senegal10100.580.6
Mozambique1080.310.3
Cameroon9100.360.4
Panama9122.173
Moldova882.112
Luxembourg81013.2416.4
Brunei8717.9515.7
Jamaica882.712.6
Paraguay871.111
Costa Rica881.551.7
North Macedonia883.693.9
Zambia850.40.3
Latvia783.934.1
Benin770.610.6
New Caledonia7625.5221.4
Papua New Guinea740.830.5
Botswana782.923.5
El Salvador781.051.2
Cyprus675.196
Republic of the Congo661.091
Gabon672.763.2
Uruguay671.682
Armenia651.981.6
Uganda550.110.1
Nicaragua560.791
Albania551.731.7
Equatorial Guinea423.041.9
Madagascar440.150.2
Namibia441.491.7
Puerto Rico421.090.6
Mauritius442.853.2
Mali310.170.1
Burkina Faso330.160.2
DR Congo340.040
Iceland349.2312.2
Haiti340.260.3
Togo330.340.4
Guinea330.20.2
Curacao3816.8746.8
Mauritania330.560.7
Reunion232.693.3
Fiji212.571.6
Macau213.362.1
Niger230.090.1
Bahamas234.647.6
Martinique224.66.2
Maldives213.632.2
Suriname222.843.9
Guadeloupe223.545
Malta223.584.4
Guyana221.922.3
Eswatini111.020.9
Bhutan111.751.8
Malawi120.070.1
Liberia110.250.2
Palau1155.2964.9
Seychelles1112.2510.2
Barbados133.9511.1
Rwanda110.080.1
Sierra Leone110.130.2
French Polynesia113.232.2
Djibouti110.851.1
Chad110.050.1
Cape Verde111.421.7
Somalia110.050.1
Aruba116.949.1
Eritrea110.130.1
Gibraltar1120.5518.1
Lesotho110.280.3
Gambia110.230.3
Bermuda18.187
Greenland18.349.2
French Guiana11.52.5
Antigua and Barbuda14.356.1
Cayman Islands6.618
Belize1.011.2
Samoa1.780.7
Central African Republic0.070.1
Solomon Islands0.470.2
Burundi0.020
Guinea Bissau0.140.2
Saint Lucia1.62
Comoros0.290.3
Western Sahara0.320.5
Turks and Caicos Islands5.164.7
Grenada1.692.6
Vanuatu0.590.3
Dominica2.031.7
Saint Kitts and Nevis2.444.3
British Virgin Islands4.354.8
Tonga1.111.3
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines1.051.6
Kiribati0.520.3
Cook Islands3.162.7
Saint Pierre and Miquelon7.311.9
Falkland Islands10.0913.1
Anguilla1.561.9
Faroe Islands0.0423.1
World35,98937,156
showing: 211 rows

Which country has the highest carbon footprint?

China is the country with the highest carbon footprint in the world.

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