Per capita: how much CO2 does the average person emit?

Annual emissions figures are often used to compare countries’ contribution to climate change. But this metric often reflects differences in population size across the world.

To understand the ‘footprint’ of the average person in a given country, this chart shows per capita emissions.

These figures reflect ‘production-based’ emissions, so do not correct for traded goods.

What are the country’s annual CO2 emissions?

A few points to keep in mind when considering this data:
  • These figures are based on ‘production’ or ‘territorial’ emissions (i.e. emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, or cement production within a country’s borders). It does not consider the emissions traded goods (consumption-based emissions). You find consumption-based emissions later in this country profile.
  • These figures look specifically at CO2 emissions – not total greenhouse gas emissions. You find total, and other greenhouse gas emissions, later in this country profile.
  • Annual emissions can be largely influenced by population size – we present the per capita figures above.

Year-on-year change: what is the percentage change in CO2 emissions?

This interactive chart shows the year-on-year growth in annual CO2 emissions.

  • A positive figure indicates that the emissions in a given year were higher than the previous year.
  • A negative figure indicates that emissions were lower than the previous year.

Year-to-year changes in emissions can vary a lot – this can create a particularly ‘noisy’ time series.

Cumulative: how much CO2 has it produced to date?

When we only look at emissions produced today, we fail to recognise historical responsibility for emissions in recent decades or centuries.

This interactive chart shows cumulative CO2 emissions – the sum of emissions produced since 1751 to the given year. This allows us to understand how much of the total CO2 emissions to date has been emitted by a given country.

Consumption-based accounting: how do emissions compare when we adjust for trade?

When countries set targets, measure or compare CO2 emissions, they tend to focus on production-based emissions – CO2 emitted within a country’s own borders. However, this fails to capture emissions from traded goods – the CO2 emitted in the production of goods elsewhere, which are later imported (or the opposite: emissions from goods that are exported).

We can estimate consumption-based CO2 emissions by correcting for trade. These emissions are shown in the interactive chart. Note that the resolution of data needed to calculate this is not available for all countries.

What share of global CO2 emissions are emitted by the country?

Looking at a country’s annual emissions is useful, but it can be hard to put these numbers in context of the global total. Is 10 million tonnes of CO2 large or small; what about 100 million; or 1 billion tonnes?

This interactive chart shows annual emissions as a percentage of the global total in a given year.

What share of global cumulative CO2 has the country emitted?

Just as with annual emissions, simply presenting cumulative CO2 figures can be hard to contextualize. Has a given country’s contribution to the global total been large or small?

This chart shows the country’s cumulative emissions as a share of global cumulative emissions.