This is not a guide about pointing fingers or blaming specific countries for climate change and global warming.
It is however a guide where we can get a better idea of which countries might be contributing in different ways to climate change via their greenhouse emissions across various measures and indicators.
Summary – Which Countries (Might) Need To Do More To Reduce Their Greenhouse Gas Emissions?
- As outlined – this is more a guide about which countries ‘might’ need to do more about emissions rather than saying that the countries listed below definitely need to reduce emissions.
- There’s probably four indicators/measurements (that we can think of) that give a better idea of which countries need to do more to reduce emissions…
- Look at annual total emissions (total emissions per year), annual % of global emissions (what % that country makes up compared to other countries), per capita emissions (emissions per person per year), and look at reports/ratings about each countries’ effort and commitment to doing their ‘fair share’ to address climate change
- There is an asterisk on cumulative emissions as an indicator/measurement – the US has the most cumulative emissions over history by far. This is something to note – but obviously it’s something that reflects past behavior more than current behavior.
- We would also note that there are variables to emissions indicators – such as whether you are measuring all greenhouse gases or a specific one like carbon dioxide for example. Examples of other variables might include that some countries have cleaner coal than others, or, even that there is question over the accuracy of the reporting of some countries’ emission total
- But, with the data we have, the results are …
- Annual total greenhouse emissions – China currently leads all countries, and essentially doubles the second places US’s emissions
- Annual % of global emissions – China lead all countries in 2017 with 28.3% of emissions, over second placed United States with 15.2%
- Per capita emissions – According to multiple sources, Qatar leads per capita emissions with 47.83 tonnes of CO2 per person (a wide margin in front of other countries)
- According to some reports in 2019, these countries rate as critically insufficient when it comes to doing their fair share to reduce global emissions, or committing to targets to hold warming to below 2 degrees – Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, USA, Ukraine
- According to some reports in 2019, these countries rate as highly insufficient when it comes to doing their fair share to reduce global emissions, or committing to targets to hold warming to below 2 degrees – Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, United Arab Emirates
- According to some reports in 2019, these countries rate as insufficient when it comes to doing their fair share to reduce global emissions, or committing to targets to hold warming to below 2 degrees – Australia, Brazil, the EU, Kazakhstan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Switzerland
Overall, the global emissions picture really needs to be broken down on a country specific, and even city specific level, along with looking at how clean current energy sources are, consumption of fossil fuels, investment and effort to set up renewable and clean energy forms, transition strategies to clean energy, progress on meeting emissions targets, emission policies and more.
This guide is more a generalisation and not an in depth analysis of all those factors.
Annual Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions (By Country)
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)
In 2014, the top countries for C02 emissions were:
- China – 30%
- Other – 30%
- United States – 15%
- EU-28 – 9%
- India – 7%
- Russia – 5%
- Japan – 4%
Annual % Of Global Emission (By Country)
In the year 2017, the share of global CO2 emissions expressed as a % was:
- China – 28.3%
- Rest Of World – 28.2%
- OECD Countries – 21.2%
- USA – 15.2%
- India – 7.1%
In the year 2016, the share of global CO2 emissions expressed as a % was:
- China – 29.1%
- US – 15.2%
- India – 6.9%
- Brazil – 1.4%
- UK – 1.1%
Per Capita/Per Person Emissions (By Country)
The countries with the highest per capita (C02 emissions per person in the population), measured in tonnes per person per year, 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)
- United Arab Emirates
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Saudi Arabia
- United States
Rating Each Countries’ Effort, Commitment & ‘Fair Share’ To Address Climate Change
climateactiontracker.org has developed some ratings to assess the level of commitment and effort different countries are putting towards climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Note that these ratings use a custom methodology – so not everyone may agree with it. Also note that countries can change their targets, policies and actions, which would then require an updating of the ratings over time.
But, the results/findings as of mid 2019 were:
Countries Rated Critically Insufficient
Commitments within this range fall well outside the ‘fair share’ range and are not consistent and are not consistent with holding warming below 2 degrees celcius.
If all government targets were within this range – warming would exceed 4 degrees celcius.
Countries include Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, USA, Ukraine
Countries Rated Highly Insufficient
Commitments within this range fall outside the ‘fair share’ range and are not consistent with holding warming below 2 degrees celcius.
If all government targets were within this range – warming would fall between 3 and 4 degrees celcius.
Countries include Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, United Arab Emirates
Countries Rated Insufficient
Commitments with this rating are in the least stringest part of their fair share range and not consistent with holding warming below 2 degrees celcius.
If all government targets were in this range, warming would reach between 2 and 3 degrees celcius.
Countries include Australia, Brazil, the EU, Kazakhstan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Switzerland
Cumulative Emissions (By Country)
The countries that lead in terms of total sum of C02 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)