Each Country's Share of CO2 Emissions

Published Jul 16, 2008 Updated Jan 14, 2022

Cumulative carbon dioxide emissions are the dominant driver of climate change. These began rising during the Industrial Revolution (especially after 1850)—which means richer countries like the United States, which made an early transition to a heavily fossil fuel-based economic system, have an outsized role in contributing to the climate impacts we see around the world today.

Both in terms of cumulative emissions, and current per capita emissions, richer countries rank high. Conversely, low- and middle-income countries have lower cumulative historical emissions and per capita emissions. Even within countries, it is the relatively rich that are most responsible for a majority of carbon emissions.

Top 15 CO2 Emitting Countries, 1750-2020 (from fossil fuels and cement)

A table showing the top CO2 emitting countries from 1750-2020
Rank Country CO2 emissions (total)
1 United States 416,738MT
2 China 235,527MT
3 Russia 115,335MT
4 Germany 92,636MT
5 United Kingdom 78,161MT
6 Japan 65,617MT
7 India 54,423MT
8 France 38,729MT
9 Canada 33,571MT
10 Ukraine 30,558MT
11 Poland 27,862MT
12 Italy 24,736MT
13 South Africa 21,163MT
14 Mexico 20,071MT
15 Iran 18,909M
Cumulative emissions from 1750-2020. From fossil fuels and cement only. MT = Metric megatons

The rankings change when we account for the population of each country (ie, per capita emissions).

The 20 countries that emitted the most carbon dioxide in 2019

A pie chart showing the top annual CO2 emitting countries in 2019
Rank Country CO2 emissions (total)
1 China 9.90GT
2 United States 4.70GT
3 India 2.30GT
4 Russian Federation 1.60GT
5 Japan 1.10GT
6 Germany 0.64GT
7 South Korea 0.59GT
8 Islamic Republic of Iran 0.58GT
9 Indonesia 0.58GT
10 Canada 0.57GT
11 Saudi Arabia 0.50GT
12 South Africa 0.43GT
13 Mexico 0.42GT
14 Brazil 0.41GT
15 Australia 0.38GT
16 Turkey 0.37GT
17 United Kingdom 0.34GT
18 Italy 0.31GT
19 France 0.29GT
20 Poland 0.29GT
21 Vietnam 0.28GT
All emissions from 2019. Fuel combustion only. GT = Metric gigatons

The picture that emerges from these figures is one where—in general—developed countries and major emerging economy nations lead in total carbon dioxide emissions.

However, developed nations typically have high carbon dioxide emissions per capita, while some developing countries lead in the growth rate of carbon dioxide emissions. These uneven contributions to the climate crisis are at the core of the challenges the world community faces in finding effective and equitable solutions to global warming.

2019 rankings by per capita emissions

A bar graph showing the top CO2 emitting countries per capita in 2019
Rank Country CO2 emissions (total)
1 Qatar 30.7T
2 Kuwait 21.3T
3 Gibraltar 21.1T
4 Bahrain 19.9T
5 United Arab Emirates 18.2T
6 Brunei Darussalam 15.2T
7 Canada 15.2T
8 Australia 15.0T
9 Luxembourg 14.6T
10 Saudi Arabia 14.4T
11 United States 14.4T
12 Oman 13.9T
13 Curaçao 13.7T
14 Trinidad and Tobago 11.9T
15 Turkmenistan 11.6T
All emissions from 2019. Fuel combustion only. T = Metric tons

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