Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Chart of the Day
15 November 2021

Which countries are the biggest carbon emitters in history?

China and India are far behind countries such as the US and UK for cumulative emissions.

By Nicu Calcea

The Cop26 conference ended on Saturday with an ambitious agreement between countries to halve global carbon emissions by 2030.

Since the 1850s, humans have emitted 2,500 billion tonnes of CO2 (GtCO2), according to analysis by Carbon Brief. To keep global warming under 1.5°C, we must keep future emissions below 500GtCO2.

The US is responsible for the largest share of cumulative carbon emissions since the Industrial Revolution: 20.3 per cent of the global total. However, once population is accounted for, Canada is responsible for an even higher share of the emissions: some 1,751 tonnes of CO2 for each Canadian alive today.

Canada, the US and Estonia top the full list – the latter due to its oil shales, which account for 90 per cent of the country’s emissions. Australia, Trinidad and Tobago and Russia have also recorded high levels of cumulative CO2 emissions compared with their present populations.

Notably, China, India, Brazil and Indonesia do not feature. While these countries are some of the biggest emitters today, their large populations and lower historic emissions mean their per capita impact is much smaller.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action

Topics in this article :