Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are greenhouse gases resulting from the burning of fossil fuels. A greenhouse gas (GHG) is a gas that absorbs and emits thermal radiation, creating a "greenhouse effect." While carbon dioxide is important in keeping the Earth a habitable temperature, the excessive CO2 emissions caused by the increasing consumption of fossil fuels disrupt Earth's carbon cycle and accelerate global warming.
Global warming and climate change have several ecological impacts, such as floods, extreme storms, sea-level rise, and disturbed water systems. CO2 emissions contribute to a country's pollution levels.
Between 2010 and 2019, total global CO2 emissions have increased from 33.1 gigatons to 38 gigatons and are projected to increase in the coming years. Unfortunately, CO2 emissions are increasing worldwide, and the nations that are emitting the highest amounts are not doing enough to reduce emissions.
There are several ways for individuals to reduce their carbon footprint. Some are eating less red meat, choosing to walk, bike, carpool, or public transportation instead of driving their cars, and using reusable containers or bottles instead of buying individual packaging.
In general, developed countries have higher CO2 emissions. In the United States, energy use has increased in the past five years, most likely due to greater heating and cooling demands and lower oil prices, increasing the number of people traveling. This increase comes after almost a decade of a decrease in energy use. Developed countries such as Denmark, Luxembourg, and Switzerland are among the most environmentally friendly, implementing green initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint and overall improve their environmental health. The world can look at these developed countries to lead the initiatives for lowering CO2 emissions.
China has the highest level of CO2 emissions, producing 11.535 gigatons of CO2 emissions in 2019, followed by the United States with 5.243 gigatons. Below are each country's total CO2 emissions for 2019 and their share of total global CO2 emissions.