Summary/Snapshot: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Worldwide/Globally (Past, Present & Future)

At the moment, China and the United States are some of the clear major players when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions.

But, it’s also important to know a summary of greenhouse gas emissions from the past, in the present and forecasts for the future – from a global/worldwide perspective.

This is our Global GHG Emission Summary.

 

Summary – Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The United States is responsible for the most CO2 emissions cumulatively throughout history

China is the current leader in annual CO2 emissions (by almost double the US’s annual output). India and Russia are some of the other major emitters

Read more about the US and their greenhouse gas emissions in this guide

Read more about China and their greenhouse gas emissions in this guide 

Per capita (per person) CO2 emission rates show different countries taking the lead compared to cumulative and annual totals. As of 2016, Qatar had the highest at 47.83 (tonnes per person per year). Australia came in at 16.5, the US at 16.44 and China at 7.36

The leading sources of CO2 by fuel source in 2013 globally were coal, oil, gas, cement production and gas flaring (in that order). [But, in countries like China, coal use can far outweigh the use of other fuel sources)

Global emissions increased from 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 1900 to over 36 billion tonnes 115 years later in 2015

From 2014-2016, global annual emissions of CO2 have approximately stabilized, but, several future projections show them continuing to rise

Regionally, we see that the emissions across a number of high-income countries in Europe and the Americas have peaked and were falling during the last decade.

If countries are able to transition from coal, to cleaner energy sources (like natural gas, or even better to nuclear and renewables) – we may see significant drops in annual greenhouse gas emissions in the future

China in particular faces many major challenges and difficulties in transitioning away from predominantly consuming coal

Carbon dioxide is by far the most emitted greenhouse gas globally (compared to methane, nitrous oxide etc.)

The Energy sector was by far the highest emitter globally of CO2 in 2010 when looking at all sectors

Agriculture and Energy were the highest emitters globally of methane in 2008 when looking at all sectors

Agriculture was by far the highest emitter of nitrous oxide globally in 2010 when looking at all sectors

The Energy sector was by far the highest emitter of total greenhouse gases globally in 2010 when looking at all sectors. In 2014, other figures show electricity and heat production, agriculture (along with forestry and other land use), and industry as the highest emitters

Something to be aware of when looking at emissions from different countries is the emissions contained in exported goods. Some countries can be mass producers and manufacturers, but end up exporting materials and goods to other countries who consume them [this is where it’s important to look at producer vs consumer cities]. A true emission footprint in this instance needs to take this into account – the consuming country should take on all or part of that emission footprint

Some reports also suggest that some countries may not be giving reliable data on emissions, which can add an asterisk to country to country carbon footprint comparisons

 

*Note that future forecasts for what a country or the world may do and their future emissions are a guide only and in reality are very hard to get accurate due to the number of variables at play. Some variables can also have a much larger impact than others – so one variable can change forecasts a lot. For example, how aggressive a country or countries are in transitioning to the use of renewable energy for energy production (electricity and vehicle fuel) could play a huge role – and this change is dependent on many factors alone

 

Top Countries For Cumulative CO2 Emissions

The countries that lead in terms of total sum of CO2 emissions since 1751 and up to 2014, measured in millions of tonnes, are:

  • United States – 376,212.65 (Mt)
  • China – 174,874.89 (Mt)
  • Germany – 86,536.42 (Mt)
  • United Kingdom – 75,237.98 (Mt)
  • India – 41,784.24 (Mt)

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Top Countries For Annual C02 Emissions

The countries that lead in terms of total sum of C02 emissions per year in 2016, measured in millions of tonnes, are:

  • China – 10,283.51 (Mt)
  • US – 5,565.49 (Mt)
  • EU-28 – a mix of european countries (Germany features high on the list)
  • India – 2,236.55 (Mt)
  • Russia – 1,669.6 (Mt)
  • Japan – 1266.6 (Mt)

– Ourworldindata.org

 

In 2014:

  • China – 30%
  • Other – 30%
  • United States – 15%
  • EU-28 – 9%
  • India – 7%
  • Russia – 5%
  • Japan – 4%

– epa.gov

 

Top Countries For Per Capita C02 Emissions

The countries with the highest per capita (C02 emissions per person in the population), measured in tonnes per person per year, in 2016, are:

  • Qatar – 47.83 (tonnes per person per year)
  • Trinidad & Tobago – 30.06
  • Kuwait – 25.81
  • United Arab Emirates – 25.79
  • Bahrain – 24.51
  • Brunei – 23.7
  • Saudi Arabia – 19.66
  • New Caledonia – 18.2
  • Australia – 16.5
  • Luxembourg – 16.47
  • United States –  16.44
  • Most nations across sub-Saharan Africa, South America and South Asia have per capita emissions below five tonnes per year (many have less than 1-2 tonnes)

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Most C02 Emissions By Fuel Source

Globally, annual per year C02 emissions by fuel source, measured in billions of tonnes per year, in 2013, are:

  • Solid Fuel (Coal) – 15.15 (Bt)
  • Liquid (Oil) – 11.79
  • Gas (Natural Gas) – 6.62
  • Cement Production – 2.03
  • Gas Flaring – 249.36 (Millions of tonnes)

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Global Annual C02 Emissions Over History

  • Global emissions increased from 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 1900 to over 36 billion tonnes 115 years later in 2015
  • [From 2014-2016], global annual emissions of CO2 have approximately stabilized
  • Regionally, we see that the emissions across a number of high-income countries in Europe and the Americas have peaked and were falling during the last decade.

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Projected Global Annual CO2 Emissions For The Future

  • Through to 2040, global annual CO2 emissions are projected to increase steadily 

– c2es.org

 

Global CO2 Concentration (PPM) – Total, & Average

  • The total global concentration of C02 in parts per million was 338.8 PPM in 1980, and 402.87 PPM in 2016
  • The average global C02 PPM increased from 286.13 PPM in 1865, to 400.13 PPM in 2016

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Top Greenhouse Gas Emissions Globally By Gas Type

Globally, the gases by type, in thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, are:

  • Carbon Dioxide – 35.46 million, thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2012
  • Methane – 8.01 million, thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2012
  • Nitrous Oxide – 3.15 million, thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2012
  • HFC Gases – 834,435.57 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2010
  • SF Gases – 174,905.39 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2010
  • PFC Gases – 78,622.31 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2010

– Ourworldindata.org

 

In 2014:

  • Carbon Dioxide – 76% (65% from fossil fuels and industrial processes, and 11% from forestry and other land use)
  • Methane – 16%
  • Nitrous Oxide  – 6%
  • F Gases – 2%

– epa.gov

 

Global C02 Emissions By Sector

In 2010, Global carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions, measured in gigagrams of CO₂ per year, by sector, are:

  • Total – 34.42 million
  • Energy – 20.33 million
  • Transport – 5.53 million
  • Residential & Commercial – 3.38 million
  • Agriculture, Land Use & Forestry – 2.62 million
  • Industry – 2.48 million
  • Other Sources – 47,519 thousand
  • Waste – 32,506.6 thousand

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Global Methane Emissions By Sector

In 2008, total global methane (CH₄) emissions by sector, measured in gigagrams of carbon-dioxide equivalents (CO₂e) were:

  • Total – 5.98 million
  • Agriculture – 2.84 million
  • Energy – 2.58 million
  • Land Use – 293,021.69 thousand
  • Residential & Commercial – 258,670.43 thousand
  • Industry – 5,290.31 thousand
  • Other Sources – 3,162.6 thousand

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Global Nitrous Oxide Emissions By Sector

In 2010, total global nitrous oxide (N₂O) emissions by sector, measured in gigagrams of carbon-dioxide equivalents(CO₂e) were:

  • Total – 3.06 million
  • Agriculture – 2.21 million
  • Other Sources – 216,927.81 thousand
  • Energy – 175,856.12 thousand
  • Industry –  137,911.67 thousand
  • Waste – 119,087.49 thousand
  • Residential & Commercial – 91,159.3 thousand
  • Land Use – 83,443.4 thousand
  • Transport – 15,786.61 thousand
  • International Bunkers – 8,879.86 thousand
  • Forestry – 0

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Global Greenhouse Gas (All Gases) Emissions By Sector

In 2010, the total global greenhouse gas emissions by sector globally, measured in gigagrams of carbon-dioxide equivalents (CO₂e), were:

  • Total – 50.58 million
  • Energy – 23.24 million
  • Land Use Sources – 5.54 million
  • Transport – 5.54 million
  • Agriculture – 5.08 million
  • Commercial & Residential – 3.74 million
  • Industry – 3.47 million
  • Waste – 1.45 million
  • Forestry – 1.18 million
  • International Bunkers – 1.08 million
  • Other Sources – 267,609.41 thousand

– Ourworldindata.org

 

In 2014:

  • Electricity and Heat Production – 25%
  • Agriculture, Forestry & Other Land Use – 24%
  • Industry – 21%
  • Transportation – 14%
  • Other Energy – 10%
  • Buildings – 6%

– epa.gov

 

Emissions From Agriculture & Land Use

  • The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that the agriculture, forestry, and land use (AFOLU) sector was responsible for about one-quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Emissions By Sector In China & The United States

 

The Future Of Greenhouse Gas Emissions & Global Warming Worldwide – Forecasts, & Scenarios

Precise forecasts for greenhouse gas emissions, and particularly carbon dioxide emissions, are hard to make due to factors such as economic activity, price of fossil fuels, what happens in the electricity and transport industries, government policy developments, whether there are improvements in energy efficiency + more.

So, only estimated forecasts can be made.

 

The c2es.org resource in the resources list below contains several forecast/projection charts though.

You can also read more in this guide about general future forecasts for climate change based on several emission pathways.

 

Sources

1. https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions

2. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data

3. https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/climate-change-evidence-causes/basics-of-climate-change/

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_global_warming

5. https://www.c2es.org/content/international-emissions/

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