Four Ways to Look at Global Carbon Footprints

Fourteen nations and Europe account for about 80 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions.

Current Emissions

(millions of metric tons)

China is the world's top contibu­tor of greenhouse gases, followed by the United States.

Per Capita

(metric tons per person)

Countries with large popula­tions, including fast-developing nations like India, have low emissions per person compared to many industrialized countries.


(metric tons per millions of dollars GDP)

Energy efficiency has helped many developed nations reduce their greenhouse gas "intensity"—their emissions per unit of gross domestic product.

Cumulative Emissions

(millions of metric tons)

Measured from the year 1850, reflecting historical industrialization, the emissions of the United States and Europe far surpass those of other nations.

About this graphic Graphics by Stephen Rountree and Adam Marr
Source: World Resources Institute CAIT 2.0 climate data explorer
Emissions data and national boundaries are from 2010. For current emissions, per capita emissions, and intensity, the data are measured in tons of "carbon dioxide equivalent." That is, they include carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases (methane, nitrous oxides, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride) as measured by their global warming potential. Cumulative emissions are measured in tons of carbon dioxide only. The emissions of Brazil and Indonesia may be understated because the numbers do not include calculations on land use change and forestry. There are high uncertainties in current measures of deforestation's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, as international authorities work to develop a consistent methodology.
This original version of this graphic was developed for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and was reprinted with its permission. Each of the four charts is scaled independently.

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