Other greenhouse gas emissions

In discussions on climate change, we tend to focus on carbon dioxide (CO2) – the most dominant greenhouse gas produced by the burning of fossil fuels, industrial production, and land use change.

But CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas that is driving global climate change. There are a number of others – methane, nitrous oxide, and trace gases such as the group of ‘F-gases’ – which have contributed a significant amount of warming to date.

Here we look at total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the world, plus breakdowns of other major gases including methane and nitrous oxide.

Total greenhouse gas emissions: how much does the average person emit? Where do emissions come from?

The charts above focused on carbon dioxide (CO2). But CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas. Others, including methane and nitrous oxide, have also had a significant impact on global warming to date.

The first interactive chart shows per capita greenhouse gas emissions. This is measured as the sum of all greenhouse gases, and given by a metric called ‘carbon dioxide equivalents’.

‘Carbon dioxide equivalents’ try to correct for the fact that one unit (e.g. a tonne) of a given gas doesn’t have the same same impact on warming as another. We therefore multiply the emissions of each gas by its ‘global warming potential’ (GWP) value: this measures the amount of warming one tonne of that gas would create relative to one tonne of CO2.

The other interactive chart shows where these emissions come from: the contribution of each sector.

Methane: how much does the average person emit? Where do emissions come from?

Methane (CH4) is a strong greenhouse gas, mainly produced through agricultural activities (e.g. livestock and rice production), in addition to leakages from oil and gas production (called ‘fugitive emissions’).

This first interactive chart here shows per capita emissions of methane each year. This is measured in ‘carbon dioxide equivalents’.

The other interactive chart shows where these emissions come from: the contribution of each sector.

Nitrous oxide: how much does the average person emit? Where do emissions come from?

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a strong greenhouse gas, that is mainly produced from agricultural activities (e.g. from the use of synthetic and organic fertilizers to grow crops).

This first interactive chart here shows per capita emissions of nitrous oxide each year. This is measured in ‘carbon dioxide equivalents’.

The other interactive chart shows where these emissions come from: the contribution of each sector.