CO₂ emissions per country

Rich countries tend to have significantly higher the CO₂ emissions per population.

Hannah Ritchie (Our World in Data): Who emits more than their share of CO₂ emissions?

In a recent article I explored how different income groups and world regions compared in terms of their share of the global population and versus carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

From this, two key questions from readers emerged:

  • How does this comparison look at the national level; and
  • How does this look when we correct for emissions embedded in trade, so that we are comparing the emissions caused by a country’s consumption rather than production?

Which countries emit more than their ‘share’ of emissions?

In a completely equal world, each country’s share of the world’s COemissions would be equal to its share of the global population. This is not reality. In my previous post I explored how this looked at regional and income group levels. But how do individual countries fare in this comparison?

In the chart below I have plotted each country’s share of global CO2 emissions (on the y-axis) versus its share of the global population (on the x-axis) Note that this is based on production-based (territorial) emissions.

There are a few interesting findings which emerge:

  • All countries in the high-income group emit more than their population share;
  • All low-income groups emit less than their population share;
  • Most lower-middle income countries emit less than their population share; and upper-middle income countries are mixed;
  • The USA emits more than three-times its population share;
  • China emits significantly more than its population share (29 percent of emissions vs. 19 percent of population);
  • India emits significantly less than its share (7 percent of emissions vs. 18 percent of population);
  • Brazil emits just over half of its population share (2.8 percent of emissions vs. 1.5 percent of population).

A more simplified way to determine whether countries over- or under-emit CO2 emissions relative to their population share is to compare per capita emissions with the global average.

I have mapped below which countries have average per capita emissions above or below the global average. Countries in red have per capita emissions above global ‘equity’ (meaning they emit more than their population share); those in blue are below the global average. Here we see that most of those above global equity are across North America, Eurasia, and Oceania. The surprising result for many is that in Europe, Sweden and Switzerland emit less than the global average.

New Zealand is above average. Some comparisons (tonnes CO2 per capita):

  • New Zealand 7.81
  • Saudi Arabia 19.77
  • Australia 16.91
  • USA 16.86
  • Canada 15.85
  • Russia 11.59
  • Germany 9.7
  • Japan 9.64
  • Libya 9.51
  • Iran 8.9
  • South Africa 8.39
  • Poland 8.18
  • China 7.4
  • United Kingdom 6.38
  • Spain 5.85
  • France 5.05
  • Ukraine 4.94
  • Turkey 4.9
  • Indonesia 1.82
  • India 1.77
  • Afghanistan 0.31
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8 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  30th December 2018

    Saudi Arabia 19.77
    Australia 16.91
    USA 16.86
    Canada 15.85
    Russia 11.59
    Germany 9.7
    Japan 9.64
    Libya 9.51
    Iran 8.9
    South Africa 8.39
    Poland 8.18
    New Zealand 7.81
    China 7.4
    United Kingdom 6.38
    Spain 5.85
    France 5.05
    . . . . . .
    That puts it in a better perspective.

    I blame the government. >:D
    And Alan Wilkinson & PDB & Trevor & HFD (I think) & I’ll probably think of some others later

    Reply
    • Griff.

       /  30th December 2018

      It gets even more interesting if you consider what emissions a country exports or imports.

      Saudi Arabia Exports a huge amount of emissions as oil.
      Australia Does the same with coal.
      The responsibility for fossil fuel emissions are placed on the end user not the originator.

      China emissions represent a large faction of the western worlds consumer products.
      Responsibility for Western consumerism’s emissions is placed on the originator not the end user .

      Reply
      • Pink David

         /  30th December 2018

        “Responsibility for Western consumerism’s emissions is placed on the originator not the end user .”

        Very good point Griff. Emissions are directly proportional to all the stuff we have. Large reductions can only be achieved by having less stuff.

        This is known as getting poorer.

        Reply
    • Trevors_Elbow

       /  30th December 2018

      I blame the pukeko’s extruding noxious gases i.e. methane and hence we should exterminate them, Gezza!

      Reply
  2. Treuddyn Ted

     /  30th December 2018

    Message to the author of “Rich countries tend to have significantly higher the CO₂ emissions per population.”
    I’m sure you like everyone knows that for things to grow, thus for all life to exist, the planet needs more CO2, not less CO2.
    Therefore how about changing future headings to being based on man-made pollution (that could include air pollution) percentages.
    Pollution is the killer. Examples – smog in Beijing,Los Angeles, London and plastic killing our oceans’ and rivers’ creatures.

    Reply
  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  30th December 2018

    How does this look when we correct for emissions embedded in trade, so that we are comparing the emissions caused by a country’s consumption rather than production?

    He didn’t bother to answer this crucial question which makes his numbers meaningless.

    Reply
  4. Treuddyn Ted

     /  30th December 2018

    Get this word ’emissions’ out of the climate discussion. Every single entity on the planet has emissions – birds, bees, trees, fish, turtles, industry, rockets into outer space, volcanoes, boiling mud pools, every time humans and other life exhale, to name just a few.
    When scientists can replicate another living working Solar System including the Sun and Planet Earth with the exact layout and population of everything we have now, complete with north and south magnetic poles together with all life (and the dead), plus the four seasons, plus the exact and actual entire climate system we have now, then actually stop for example snow falling in winter on their replicated Mt Cook at 12,218 feet and Mt Everest at 29,029 feet, prevent volcanoes from erupting, prevent earthquakes, I might take them seriously. Because at present their ‘climate models’ cannot be considered anything other than feeble play things.

    Reply

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