Who produces the most carbon in the world? This is a pertinent question. Many citizens of industrial nations such as the United States, France, and Canada have felt personally responsible for the carbon in the atmosphere. But should they feel that way? There is a lot of guilt about the climate bubbling in many communities around the world, but is that guilt misplaced? What can we learn about carbon reduction from the data about carbon emissions?
This data shows the total amount of carbon emitted per country, the total share of the world’s carbon output, and the carbon emitted per capita. Shoutout to the Visual Capitalist and World Carbon Atlas for providing this data. (Sources available at the bottom for further reading.)
Top 10 Carbon Emitting Countries
China is the world’s largest carbon emitting nation by a long shot. China accounts for over 30% of the total global carbon emitted while making up roughly 18% of the world population. That means that China accounts for 1.6 times the amount of carbon emitted per person versus the expected value. In fact, China accounts for more carbon dioxide emissions than the next five nations combined.
The United States is a distant second to China. But the United States also has far fewer people than China. There are over a billion more Chinese people than there are Americans in the world. Still, China produces over twice as much carbon as the United States.
The top ten carbon producing nations in the world are as follows.
- China — 11,336 MtCO₂
- United States — 5,032 MtCO₂
- India — 2,674 MtCO₂
- Russia — 1,712 MtCO₂
- Japan — 1,062 MtCO₂
- Iran — 688 MtCO₂
- Germany — 679 MtCO₂
- Saudia Arabia — 631 MtCO₂
- South Korea — 616 MtCO₂
- Indonesia — 616 MtCO₂
The list of carbon emissions by nation is very similar to that of the world’s largest nations by population. Five of the top carbon producing nations are also in the top ten for total population.