The world's biggest polluters
Which countries of the world are responsible for the global warming? Looking at the data over the last 50 years tells us quite a lot - not just about the biggest polluters, but also about how the world has changed!
Carbon emissions today
If we look at CO2 emissions for the whole world for recent years, we can see the expected results. In general, the rich countries in America and Europe together with China and India are producing large percentage of the world's CO2 emissions. The map also shows the next group: Iran, Australia, Canada, Brazil and Saudi Arabia:
The largest producer of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the world is China. In the year 2010, it produced over 8 millions of kilotons of CO2. The list of the biggest polluters continues with the United States (producing 5.4 millions), India (1.9 millions) and Russia. You can see more in the table below.
A curious fact is that the smallest producer of CO2 emissions is Liechtenstein with just 58 kilotons per year, followed by small island countries of the Pacific and Africa.
If we look at the share of CO2 emissions for individual countries, we can see that China produces over one quarter (26.4%) of all the CO2 of the world. In fact, the first three countries (China, US and India) are responsible for almost an exact half (49.9%) of the world's CO2:
Looking at the data for the year 2010 shows the expected results with China, USA and India on the top of the list. But this is also because these three are very large countries.
Emissions per capita
To see a somewhat different picture, let's look at carbon emissions per capita. That is, the CO2 emissions for a single person living in each of the countries. As you can see in the following map, a very different picture appears:
Quite different set of countries appear when compared to the previous visualization. The biggest polluters per capita include small Persian Gulf states including Quatar, Kuwait, UAR and Oman, followed by large developed countries (USA, Canada and Australia). We can still see China among the polluters too, but India almost completely disappears.
Carbon emissions in the past
Although the biggest polluters of the modern world, and especially China, are contributing a large part of the overall emissions today, this only started happening in recent years. If we look at the past, we see yet another picture. For example, in the year 1960, the biggest polluter by far was the United States.
The following map shows the data for the year 1960. The World Bank does not have the data for the former Easter block countries, and so the values there are missing.
So, when did China become the biggest polluter in the world? Quite surprisingly, this is only a recent development. As you can see in our final visualization, the CO2 emissions of China began growing rapidly around the year 2002, it overtook the USA around 2005 and it continues growing.