Pollution by Country 2022

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Pollution and its impact upon the environment is arguably the most important challenge currently facing the world. Pollution is not a single substance, but thousands of unwanted substances that can be released into the environment through human activity and which then degrade the quality of air, water, soil, or other ecological factors. Pollution can affect humans, causing or exacerbating health problems including allergies, asthma, cancer or heart disease, and even death. It can also harm flora and fauna both in the wild, which can damage entire ecosystems, and in agricultural settings, which puts mankind's food supply at risk.

Because pollution takes many different forms, determining which country is the greatest polluter in the world is a complex task (although the most polluted countries are somewhat easier to identify). However, as CO₂ is the leading greenhouse gas and the main cause of global warming, making it arguably the most important pollutant in the world, CO₂ emissions are a wise place to start. Which countries release the highest CO₂ emissions depends upon whether one measures total emissions or emissions per person, also known as per capita.

10 Countries with Highest Total CO₂ emissions in 2019 (Global Carbon Project):

Rank Country CO₂ (million tons) CO₂ (tons)
1 China 10,666 10,665,904,000
2 United States 4,716 4,715,568,000
3 India 2,444 2,443,888,000
4 Russia 1,576 1,575,520,000
5 Japan 1,030 1,029,584,000
6 Iran 744 743,792,000
7 Germany 645 644,864,000
8 Saudi Arabia 627 626,544,000
9 South Korea 601 600,896,000
10 Indonesia 590 589,904,000

10 Countries with Highest CO₂ emissions Per Capita in 2019 (Climate Watch Data):

Rank Country CO₂ per Capita (tons)
1 Qatar 40.62
2 Trinidad and Tobago 28.95
3 Mongolia 27.50
4 Brunei 22.98
5 Kuwait 22.97
6 Bahrain 20.98
7 Sao Tome and Principe 18.16
8 Australia 16.34
9 United States 16.01
10 Kazakhstan 15.98

Global warming and its impact

Global warming is an increase in the earth's atmosphere caused by elevated levels of greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO₂), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and other airborne pollutants. Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, which amplifies humankind's ecological footprint and triggers climate change in the form of shifted weather patterns, melting ice caps and sea-level rise, greater instances of extreme weather (floods, droughts, storms, etc.) and extreme stress on flora and fauna that cannot adapt to (or migrate away from) their morphing ecosystem quickly enough.

Because of the potential effects of climate change, many nations are making a concentrated effort to shrink their carbon footprint and reduce emissions of CO₂ and other greenhouse gas pollutants. Carbon dioxide (CO₂) is the most prevalent (though not the most potent) greenhouse gas. CO₂ is emitted by the combustion of fossil fuels—primarily oil, natural gas, and coal—which are heavily utilized by industries including transportation (vehicle fuel), energy (burned to create electricity), and manufacturing (burned during metalworking and other processes).

In an effort to curb CO₂ emissions, many of the world's nations are working to [become greener](world's greenest nations) and reduce their oil consumption by investing heavily in renewable energies such as solar power and wind farms, as well as electric vehicles and greener manufacturing processes. Many countries are also seeking to simply reduce their overall energy consumption via upgraded infrastructure and other means.

Despite these efforts, pollution is a major concern in many countries, from the developing countries of eastern Asia to the United States, one of the most highly developed countries on Earth. One of the organizations tasked with tracking global CO₂ emissions is the European Commission and Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, whose EDGAR database includes data from 1970 to current times. Another reputable source is the Integrated Carbon Observation System's Global Carbon Project (GCP), whose data was utilized in the creation of this page.

Air Quality Index

Another method of measuring pollution is a country's overall air quality, measured by its PM2.5 concentration. PM2.5 is an air pollutant that is a concern for people's health at high levels. These particles reduce visibility and make the air appear hazy. The Air Quality Index (AQI) measured significant air pollutants, such as PM2.5 and others, including ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide. Based on the AQI, many Asian nations rank among the world's most polluted countries, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Mongolia, Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, Bahrain, Nepal, Uzbekistan, and Iraq.

Additional forms of pollution: microplastics, light pollution, and noise pollution

Air pollution may earn the majority of the attention, but it is far from being the only form of pollution. For example, researchers are becoming increasingly aware of the presence of microplastics—microscopic bits of plastic, usually the remains of plastic grocery bags—in everything from groundwater to the bodily tissues of aquatic animals. Many countries also struggle with plastic pollution on a macro scale, as do the oceans, where massive patches of floating garbage have been discovered.

While most pollutants are physical materials—such as gaseous emissions from fossil-fuel-burning power plants or microplastics created by the degradation of plastic trash—some are less tangible. Examples of non-material forms of pollution include "light pollution," which is caused by excess nighttime illumination (especially in urban areas) and can upset the circadian cycles of humans, plants, and animals. Another is "noise pollution", which can lead to a myriad of significant health problems for humans, whales, and other marine animals.

Most Environmentally Friendly Countries

The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) compares and analyzes environmental performance for 180 countries. Each country is ranked on performance indicators across ten categories covering environmental health and ecosystem vitality. Indicators include air quality, PM2.5 exposure, ozone exposure, sanitation, and drinking water. According to the EPI, the most environmentally friendly countries tend to be those in the European Union, such as Denmark, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, France, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Germany.

The EPI helps countries understand how effective their current environmental policies are and the areas they need improvement on. Eco-friendly practices and policies are found in goods and services, laws, transportation, and guidelines across all industries. Implementing eco-friendly products, practices, and processes help preserve the natural environment, conserve natural resources like water and energy, and prevent air, water, and land pollution.

Pollution by Country 2022

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Pollution by Country 2022

Country CO2 (million tons) 2020 CO2 per capita (tons) 2019 CO2 (million tons) 2019 CO2 (tons) 2019
China10,667.897.5110,66610,665,904,000
United States4,712.7716.014,7164,715,568,000
India2,441.791.922,4442,443,888,000
Russia1,577.1411.631,5761,575,520,000
Japan1,030.788.761,0301,029,584,000
Iran745.048.84744743,792,000
Germany644.318.56645644,864,000
Saudi Arabia625.51627626,544,000
South Korea597.6112.53601600,896,000
Indonesia589.502.44590589,904,000
Canada535.8215.49535534,944,000
Brazil467.382.30469468,992,000
South Africa451.968.13451450,672,000
Turkey392.794.79392392,048,000
Australia391.8916.34392392,048,000
Mexico356.973.41355355,408,000
United Kingdom329.585.52330329,760,000
Italy303.825.63304304,112,000
Poland299.598.42300300,448,000
Kazakhstan291.3415.98293293,120,000
France276.634.71278278,464,000
Malaysia272.618.72271271,136,000
Thailand257.773.90256256,480,000
Vietnam254.302.70253252,816,000
Pakistan234.751.08234234,496,000
Ukraine213.465.01213212,512,000
Iraq210.835.67213212,512,000
Spain208.915.34209208,848,000
Argentina156.983.73158157,552,000
Algeria1553.87154153,888,000
United Arab Emirates150.2715.78150150,224,000
Netherlands138.108.86139139,232,000
Philippines136.021.36136135,568,000
Nigeria125.460.65125124,576,000
Uzbekistan112.783.40114113,584,000
Qatar106.6640.62106106,256,000
Bangladesh92.840.589291,600,000
Colombia89.101.808887,936,000
Kuwait88.9422.978887,936,000
Mongolia88.4427.508887,936,000
Czech Republic87.979.458887,936,000
Venezuela84.613.488484,272,000
Belgium83.758.678484,272,000
Chile81.174.548180,608,000
Turkmenistan75.3412.847776,944,000
Romania71.473.867373,280,000
Morocco64.541.876665,952,000
Oman62.1612.216262,288,000
Austria60.637.656262,288,000
Belarus57.456.485958,624,000
Israel56.356.895554,960,000
Greece52.246.135151,296,000
Libya50.728.045151,296,000
Hungary48.285.024847,632,000
Singapore45.508.014443,968,000
Peru44.711.694443,968,000
Serbia43.147.104443,968,000
Norway41.288.024040,304,000
Portugal40.394.634040,304,000
Finland39.297.714040,304,000
Sweden38.633.984040,304,000
Azerbaijan37.723.863736,640,000
Bulgaria37.446.053736,640,000
Myanmar36.330.673736,640,000
Trinidad And Tobago35.5128.953736,640,000
Bahrain34.9620.983736,640,000
Laos33.854.733332,976,000
New Zealand33.487.533332,976,000
Ireland33.357.553332,976,000
Switzerland32.304.283332,976,000
Ecuador30.932.122929,312,000
Slovakia30.736.192929,312,000
Syria30.531.822929,312,000
North Korea29.311.142929,312,000
Tunisia28.132.572929,312,000
Dominican Republic27.772.562929,312,000
Denmark26.195.312625,648,000
Lebanon25.973.892625,648,000
Jordan25.492.552625,648,000
Angola22.200.742221,984,000
Bosnia And Herzegovina21.427.532221,984,000
Sri Lanka21.111.052221,984,000
Bolivia20.702.072221,984,000
Cuba20.151.991818,320,000
Guatemala18.941.321818,320,000
Sudan18.860.511818,320,000
Croatia16.984.371818,320,000
Nepal16.960.591818,320,000
Kenya16.150.351514,656,000
Ghana160.561514,656,000
Cambodia15.330.931514,656,000
Ethiopia14.660.151514,656,000
Lithuania13.804.981514,656,000
Slovenia12.566.711110,922,000
Afghanistan12.160.321110,922,000
Kyrgyzstan11.511.711110,922,000
Tanzania10.940.211110,922,000
Panama10.782.901110,922,000
Zimbabwe10.530.751110,922,000
Senegal10.450.691110,922,000
Estonia10.459.331110,922,000
Equatorial Guinea10.277.571110,922,000
Brunei10.1622.981110,922,000
Georgia9.972.821110,922,000
Yemen9.770.341110,922,000
Honduras9.661.111110,922,000
Tajikistan9.450.931110,922,000
Luxembourg8.1715.7377,328,000
Costa Rica7.911.7577,328,000
Paraguay7.571.2177,328,000
Jamaica7.432.7377,328,000
North Macedonia7.153.8377,328,000
Cameroon6.890.2977,328,000
Latvia6.77477,328,000
Benin6.700.6277,328,000
Papua New Guinea6.650.7577,328,000
Mozambique6.570.2477,328,000
Zambia6.570.3977,328,000
Botswana6.523.0177,328,000
Cyprus6.506.1277,328,000
El Salvador6.121.0677,328,000
Armenia5.891.8777,328,000
Uruguay5.841.9077,328,000
Moldova5.151.9443,664,000
Nicaragua5.070.8743,664,000
Uganda4.890.1343,664,000
Albania4.531.7043,664,000
Gabon4.302.0743,664,000
Mauritius3.983.4643,664,000
Burkina Faso3.970.2143,664,000
Namibia3.881.6443,664,000
Madagascar3.680.1543,664,000
Mali3.390.1943,664,000
Guinea3.390.2943,664,000
Mauritania3.380.8243,664,000
Republic of the Congo3.120.6143,664,000
Iceland2.949.8543,664,000
Haiti2.920.2943,664,000
Palestine2.900.6443,664,000
DR Congo2.480.0343,664,000
Bahamas2.346.7743,664,000
Montenegro2.314.2543,664,000
Suriname2.224.3443,664,000
Guyana2.213.1843,664,000
Togo2.190.2943,664,000
Lesotho2.181.0943,664,000
Bhutan1.932.5343,664,000
Maldives1.803.38
Niger1.690.0843,664,000
Malta1.593.31
Malawi1.400.09
Fiji1.391.56
South Sudan1.180.13
Barbados1.094.23
Rwanda1.030.09
Liberia1.010.22
Eswatini0.960.88
Chad0.910.06
Sierra Leone0.880.12
Eritrea0.83
Burundi0.700.06
Belize0.581.69
Somalia0.560.04
Cape Verde0.551.10
Timor Leste0.530.41
Gambia0.500.23
Seychelles0.495.95
Andorra0.476.51
Saint Lucia0.442.72
Antigua And Barbuda0.435.01
Djibouti0.350.41
Solomon Islands0.300.45
Guinea Bissau0.290.16
Grenada0.292.97
Comoros0.260.36
Samoa0.251.25
Palau0.2212.16
Saint Vincent And the Grenadines0.212.13
Saint Kitts And Nevis0.214.54
Central African Republic0.190.04
Vanuatu0.180.60
Micronesia0.151.29
Marshall Islands0.152.57
Tonga0.141.37
Dominica0.142.19
Liechtenstein0.143.90
Sao Tome And Principe0.1118.16
Cook Islands0.08
Kiribati0.070.58
Nauru0.064.50
Tuvalu0.010.65
Niue0.01
Egypt2.25213212,512,000
Ivory Coast1110,992,000
Taiwan275274,800,000
Hong Kong3332,976,000
Reunion43,664,000
Guadeloupe43,664,000
Martinique43,664,000
New Caledonia77,328,000
Curacao43,664,000

Pollution by Country 2022

Sources