Right now, 10 countries — including the U.S., China and Russia — are responsible for 80 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. The United States is the world’s second largest emitter (China ranks no. 1), sending around 5.8 million metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere a year. That’s the equivalent to a year’s worth of greenhouse gas emissions from 1.1 billion average passenger vehicles. Below, a look at today’s big CO2 emitters — and projected emissions giants in 2030.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration; Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (CAIT) Version 6.0. (Washington, DC: World Resources Institute, 2009)
Credit: Alyson Hurt and Kathleen Masterson / NPR
Countries With Top Coal Reserves
Across the globe, coal reserves are the most carbon-intensive energy resource.
Source: World Resources Institute’s Climate Analysis Indicators Tool, 2009re
Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations
Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are much higher than they were in the industrial era, and have been increasing steadily over the last half century. The yearly dips represent seasonal changes.
Source: Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO)
CO2 Emissions Compared With GDP
About half the electricity used in the United States comes from burning coal. China depends on coal even more. Burning coal puts out more greenhouse gases than does any other single source of electricity.
Source: World Resources Institute’s Climate Analysis Indicators Tool, 2009; CIA World Factbook