Which countries emit the most CO2?

Climate change – Which country has the highest CO2 emissions?

Here you can read the emission comparison between the individual countries of the world. (pictured: coal terminal in Huanghua, China)

(Photo: via REUTERS)

Dusseldorf Masses of rain flood parts of India. Images of flooded Chinese streets reach the world. Persistent heat hits mainland Spain. Extreme weather events are taking place across large parts of the planet these days. According to preliminary data from the World Weather Organization, the first week of July was probably the hottest since weather records began.

While meteorologists and climate researchers are warning of the consequences of man-made climate change, efforts by politicians and society have so far not shown any reversal in CO2 emissions. At least that’s what the Global Carbon Project report says. He estimates global CO2 emissions in 2022 at 36.6 gigatons – around one percent more than in the previous year.

More than a hundred international scientists worked on the study. Their conclusion: If emissions continue as before, the remaining carbon budget to comply with the 1.5 degree limit will be used up in just a few years.

The Global Carbon Project expects annual CO2 emissions to increase to up to 43.1 billion tons worldwide by 2050 – contrary to the agreement of the Paris climate agreement to reduce emissions to zero by 2050.

But which countries leave the largest ecological footprint? Where are the CO2 emissions highest in an international comparison? And why is an excess of CO2 so harmful to the climate? An overview.

CO2 emissions: Which countries emit the most carbon dioxide?

In 2021, the G20 countries were responsible for more than 80 percent of global CO2 emissions. This emerges from the emissions database of the European Commission – EDGAR for short.

Accordingly, China leads the list of the largest carbon dioxide emitters with an emission share of 32.9 percent. The United States follows with a share of 12.55 percent.

For comparison: According to the Commission, Germany contributed around 665.9 million tonnes of CO2 in 2021, accounting for 1.76 percent of global emissions.

The survey of the Global Carbon Project provides similar values. Again, China is the frontrunner in 2021, followed by the US, India, Russia and Japan.

country Share of global CO2 emissions (in percent)
China 30.9
USA 13.49
India 7.3
Russia 4.73
Japan 2.88
Iran 2.02
Germany 1.82
Saudi Arabia 1.81
Indonesia 1.67
South Korea 1.66
Canada 1.47

Source: Global Carbon Project

China as the largest CO2 emitter

In recent years, China has become the world’s largest emitter of CO2. The country can look back on rapid economic growth, but still defines itself as a developing country. A status that is up for debate in many places, for example at the world organization WTO.

Critics, for example, accuse the country of seeking trade advantages and wanting to shirk responsibility for climate protection. Emerging and developing countries sometimes play a privileged role in climate protection. International experts and researchers agree that climate change can only be combated effectively through a global approach.

>> Read also: Who is behind the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change?

While Germany has set itself the goal of being climate-neutral by 2045 at the latest, the People’s Republic wants to be before 2060. This was announced by China’s head of state and party leader Xi Jinping at the United Nations virtual general debate in New York in 2020. In the same year in which as many new coal-fired power plants were approved in the People’s Republic as in 2015.

Why are the CO2 emissions in China so high?

China consumes and produces the most coal in the world. The country once again pushed ahead massively with the construction of new coal-fired power plants last year. This is the conclusion of a research report by the Finnish Center for Energy Research (CREA) and the Global Energy Monitor (GEM). Accordingly, the number of new coal-fired power plants again corresponds to that of 2015.

>> Read about this: These are the 10 countries with the most inhabitants

Only the generation of energy from coal made the unprecedented economic growth of the People’s Republic possible, but it also led to dramatic levels of particulate matter in the cities and in some cases entire regions were destroyed.

Despite many investments in renewable energies, the People’s Republic is still largely dependent on fossil fuels. Added to this is the country’s high population, which drives up the absolute values ​​of CO2 emissions.

Which country causes the most CO2 per capita?

Measured in absolute numbers, China emits more than twice as much CO2 as the USA. However, if you look at the CO2 emissions per capita, the ranking shifts. According to climate data from the European Commission, Palau had the highest CO2 emissions per capita in 2021. On the archipelago in the Pacific, emissions were 60.17 tons of carbon dioxide per capita.

Around 18,000 people inhabit the islands with a total land area of ​​almost 460 square kilometers. The island state became known in this country through the visit of the Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) last year.

>> Read about this: baerbock calls for an accelerated phase-out of fossil energy worldwide

Palau has neither oil fields nor does it mine coal on a large scale. Tourism is mainly responsible for the immense CO2 emissions per capita. Or rather the tourist transport that is included in the calculation of CO2 emissions per capita.

The hospitality, transport and real estate industries make up more than 70 percent of the gross domestic product, according to data from the Federal Statistical Office. According to the island state, in the past few years, before the outbreak of the corona pandemic, the number of visitors from China in particular increased. In 2015, more than 91,000 Chinese came to the archipelago, reports the Indian newspaper Sunday Guardian.

>> Read also: Climate protection – the Chinese are pushing into the biofuel market

According to EDGAR, China itself has CO2 emissions of 8.73 tons per inhabitant. For comparison: The USA is far above that with a per capita emission of 14.24 tons. The EU countries emit around 6.25 tons of CO2 per capita on average. Germany ranks among the top of the EU countries.

How much CO2 does one person cause in Germany?

In 2021, an inhabitant in Germany consumed an average of 8.06 tons per capita. This is less than China, but more than most other member states within the EU. Only a few countries in the federation achieve a higher average per capita consumption. And they all have significantly fewer inhabitants. An overview:

EU country CO2 emissions per capita (2021) population
Luxembourg 13.82 tons 640,000
Estonia 11.49 tons 1,300,000
Czech Republic 9.19 tons 10,500,000
Netherlands 8.52 tons 17,500,000
Poland 8.48 tons 37,750,000
Belgium 8.22 tons 11,590,000
Germany 8.06 tons 84,400,000

Source: EDGAR

Also read about CO2 emissions:

The fact is: Within the EU, CO2 emissions dominate the ⁠greenhouse gas⁠ emissions with a share of around 80 percent. CO2 is the chemical abbreviation for the colorless and odorless gas carbon dioxide. Its existence is necessary for life on Earth – otherwise the planet would be too cold, trees and plants would lack fertilizer.

When the sun’s rays hit the earth, it generates thermal radiation within the atmosphere and on the ground. Ice and glaciers reflect part of the sunlight. But the other part is bound by certain gases in the atmosphere, which leads to warming. Climate research speaks of the greenhouse effect. On the one hand, this occurs naturally.

However, it is statistically proven that humans also stimulate global warming by emitting greenhouse gases – above all CO2. The result: man-made climate change.

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