Summary Of Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions

China and the United States are two of the major emitters across cumulative and annual greenhouse gas emission measurements.

But, it’s also important to know the rest of the picture when it comes to global greenhouse gas emissions.

We outline that picture in this global greenhouse gases summary guide.

 

Summary – Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions

A summary of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions picture for the country might be:

Cumulative Emissions

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

 

Annual Emissions

China is the current leader in annual CO2 emissions, and is essentially at double the US’ annual output.

India and Russia are some of the other major emitters

 

Per Capita Emissions

As of 2016, Qatar had the highest per capita emissions at 47.83 (tonnes per person per year).

Australia came in at 16.5, the US at 16.44 and China at 7.36.

 

Greenhouse Gas That Is Emitted The Most

Carbon dioxide is by far the most emitted greenhouse gas globally, compared to other  major greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide

Some sources put carbon dioxide’s emission share at over 75% of total emissions.

Methane is at 16%, and nitrous oxide at 6%.

 

Increase In CO2 Concentration In The Air Over Time

Over the last 150 years or so, the CO2 concentration, measured in parts per million, has increased from 286.13PPM to 400.13PPM

 

Energy Sources Responsible For The Most Greenhouse Gases

One set of 2013 data shows coal as the leading carbon emitter, with oil in second place, and natural gas in third.

However, this varies in individual countries.

China for example has majority of it’s greenhouse gases come from coal, whilst the United States has a greater share come from sources like natural gas.

 

Industries That Emit The Most Greenhouse Gases

– CO2 …

The energy sector by far was the main emitter of CO2 in 2010.

 

– Methane

The agricultural and energy sectors were the main emitters of methane in 2008.

 

– Nitrous Oxide

The agricultural sector was the main emitter of nitrous oxide in 2010.

 

– All Greenhouse Gases (Sum Of Total)

The Energy sector was by far the highest emitter of total (all) greenhouse gases globally in 2010 when looking at all sectors.

In 2014, other figures show electricity and heat production at 25%, agriculture (along with forestry and other land use) at 24%, industry at 21%, and transportation at 14%

 

Have Emissions Increased Or Decreased In Recent History?

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

In the 2010’s, average global annual emissions have almost stabilized.

However, some major countries such as China have seen steep increases in CO2 emissions over the last decade or so.

 

Future Emissions Forecast

Future emissions will depend on a range of factors, and there’s ultimately a scenario where there are no major changes to emissions, and also ‘cleaner energy’ scenarios.

In the case of the US, some sources indicate that there will be no major changes and emission will slightly accumulate each year up to 2050.

In the case of China, although there has been investment in installed renewable energy capacity, more use of natural gas, and plans for nuclear power, there is still a heavy dependence on coal energy. China in particular faces many major challenges and difficulties in transitioning away from predominantly consuming coal

Some global emissions forecasts predict steady increases in emissions

So, future forecasts are country dependent, and can be heavily influenced by government policy, and the development, use, demand, competitiveness and effectiveness of cleaner energy and transport (amongst many other factors).

Forecasts in themselves are also only really an educated guess because of the number of future variables at play.

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

 

Top Countries For Cumulative CO2 Emissions

The United States leads the world for cumulative emissions over time.

Read this guide for the list of countries by cumulative emissions.

 

Top Countries For Annual CO2 Emissions

China is currently the leader for annual emissions, followed by the United States in second place.

Read this guide for the list of countries by annual emissions.

 

Top Countries For Per Capita CO2 Emissions

Qatar is the leader for per capita emissions according to a few different sources.

Read this guide for the list of countries by per capita emissions.

 

Which Greenhouse Gas Is Emitted The Most Globally?

CO2 is by far the greenhouse gas emitted the most, when measured in thousands of tonnes CO2e.

By % share, some data sets have it at a 76% share, with methane at 16%, and nitrous oxide at 6%.

Read more about global greenhouse gas emission quantities in this guide.

 

Global CO2 Concentration (PPM) – Total, & Average

Over the last 150 years or so, the CO2 concentration, measured in parts per million, has increased from 286.13PPM to 400.13PPM

 

The total global concentration of CO2 in parts per million was 338.8 PPM in 1980, and 402.87 PPM in 2016

The average global CO2 PPM increased from 286.13 PPM in 1865, to 400.13 PPM in 2016

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Most CO2 Emissions By Fuel Source

One set of data shows coal as the leading carbon emitter, with oil in second place, and natural gas in third.

 

Globally, annual per year CO2 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 CO2 Emissions By Sector

The energy sector by far was the main emitter of CO2 in 2010.

Read more about carbon dioxide emissions by sector/industry in this guide.

 

Global Methane Emissions By Sector

The agricultural and energy sectors were the main emitters of methane in 2008.

Read more about methane emissions by sector/industry in this guide.

 

Global Nitrous Oxide Emissions By Sector

The agricultural sector was the main emitter of nitrous oxide in 2010.

Read more about methane emissions by sector/industry in this guide.

 

Total Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions By Sector

One set of data from 2010 shows the energy sector by far was the biggest emitter of all greenhouse gases.

Another set of data from 2014 shows, in this order, the Electricity and Heat Production, Agriculture, Forestry & Other Land Use, Industry – 21%, and Transportation sectors as the main emitters.

Read more about total/all emissions by sector/industry worldwide in this guide.

 

Emissions By Sector In China & The United States

China and the United States as the main emitters in the world have different sectoral breakdowns for their main emitting industries.

Part of this is to do with where their respective economies are at, and what they produce and consume.

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 

 

Global Annual CO2 Emissions Over History

Over the last 120 years or so, global CO2 emissions have increased significantly.

In the 2010’s, average global annual emissions have almost stabilized.

However, some major countries such as China have seen steep increases in CO2 emissions over the last decade or so.

 

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

 

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 + many other factors

So, forecasts are educated guesses only.

 

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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