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Which countries have the highest measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the world?
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CO2 emissions are measured in many different ways, as described in “How Are Carbon Dioxide Emissions Measured?” (OneSharedEarth, 2020).


Here are the top 5 countries for different emission measurements in 2016:

Annual production-based CO2 emissions - China, United States, India, Russia, Japan 

Average per capita production-based CO2 emissions - Qatar, Curacao, Trinidad and Tobago, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain (Curacao has been excluded in the graphs below as not enough data is available to represent it)

Cumulative production-based CO2 emissions - United States, China, Russia, Germany, United Kingdom

Annual consumption-based CO2 emissions - China, United States, India, Japan, Russia

Average per capita consumption-based CO2 emissions - Luxembourg, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Brunei 


To give a perspective on how these countries look against each other for each emissions type, they have been shown in the following graphs. World total for annual & cumulative emissions and world average for per capita emissions is also shown. The most complete set of data found was for year 2016, hence rankings and graphs for 2016 are used. “CO2 Emissions” (Global Carbon Atlas, 2018) gives data for 2018 and the ranks for the top 5 countries in each measurement are almost the same as for 2016.


Annual production-based CO2 emissions (see source image here)

Annual production-based CO2 emissions


Average per capita production-based CO2 emissions (see source image here)

Average per capita production-based CO2 emissions


Cumulative production-based CO2 emissions (see source image here)

Cumulative production-based CO2 emissions


Annual consumption-based CO2 emissions (see source image here)

Annual consumption-based CO2 emissions 


Average per capita consumption-based CO2 emissions (see source image here)

Average per capita consumption-based CO2 emissions


It is also interesting to note how rich and poor countries compare in general with regards to CO2 emissions. The World Bank's income classifications split countries into one of four categories - high income, upper-middle income, lower-middle income, low income - determined by the country's per capita gross national income (GNI). The list of countries in each category can be found in “World Bank Country and Lending Groups – World Bank Data Help Desk” (Worldbank.org, 2019). The high and upper-middle income countries have 51% of the world population while the low and lower-middle income have 49%, roughly dividing the world into the richest half & the poorest half. The richest half contributes to about 87% of global CO2 emissions and the poorest half to only about 13%. The figures are same for production & consumption emissions. See Ritchie H and Roser M, “CO₂ and Greenhouse Gas Emissions” (Our World in Data, 2017) for figures.



Ritchie H and Roser M, “CO₂ and Greenhouse Gas Emissions” (Our World in Data, 2017), see here for complete list of data sources

Boden, T.A., G. Marland, and R.J. Andres. 2017. Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emissions. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tenn., U.S.A. doi 10.3334/CDIAC/00001_V2017

CO2 Emissions (Metric Tons per Capita)” (Worldbank.org, 2011)  

Carbon Brief, “Which Countries Have Emitted the Most CO2?” 

Each Country’s Share of CO2 Emissions” (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2019) 

CO2 Emissions” (Global Carbon Atlas, 2018)

World Bank Country and Lending Groups – World Bank Data Help Desk” (Worldbank.org, 2019)

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