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Countries contributing the highest carbon emissions

  • Countries contributing the highest carbon emissions

    Greenhouse gases—including carbon—are emitted through the burning of fossil fuels, and trap heat in the atmosphere. The combination and abundance of these gases in the atmosphere make the planet warmer and can lead to rapid climate change. Gases can remain in the Earth’s atmosphere for thousands of years, so countries across the world have taken steps to reconsider their environmental impact in terms of carbon and other greenhouse emissions.

    Stacker compiled information from the Global Footprint Network to determine which countries produce the highest carbon emissions. The Global Footprint Network ranks countries according to their ecological footprint per capita, or the amount of natural land or sea that would be required to support one person in each country for one year. An “ecological footprint” was calculated for each country, which expresses the amount of “biologically productive area” that would be required to absorb a population’s carbon dioxide emissions for a year. Biocapacity was also factored into the rankings, expressing each country’s total land and sea available to provide resources.

    All values are defined in global hectares, which is a measurement unit for ecological footprint and biocapacity. Global hectares are necessary to measure ecological footprints, because different land types have different productivities.

    Read on to find out which countries need to take more action to reduce their environmental impact.

    RELATED: How much carbon dioxide does your state emit?

  • #50. Italy

    Total ecological footprint: 256.8 million global hectares (4.3 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 56.1 million global hectares (0.9 per capita)

    Population: 59.8 million

    In Italy, carbon emissions from liquid fuels have dropped from 76% to 46% Since 1974. Emissions per capita within the country grew rapidly between 1950 and 1974. Coal usage now accounts for 13.9% of Italy’s total fossil fuel carbon emissions.

  • #49. Greece

    Total ecological footprint: 47.2 million global hectares (4.3 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 17.6 million global hectares (1.6 per capita)

    Population: 11.0 million

    Between 1995 and 2008, Greece reduced its carbon emissions thanks to high economic growth, favorable weather, and greenhouse gas mitigation policies. However, studies have shown that in general, the effect of government regulation on carbon emissions is low.

  • #48. Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

    Total ecological footprint: 27.1 million global hectares (4.3 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 4.3 million global hectares (0.7 per capita)

    Population: 6.3 million

    Libyan Arab Jamahiriya is where a third of Africa’s known oil reserves are located. This has contributed greatly to the country’s carbon emissions. Domestic oil refineries in the country contribute to higher per capita carbon emissions in Libyan Arab Jamahiriya than any other North African country.

  • #47. Malaysia

    Total ecological footprint: 132.2 million global hectares (4.4 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 71.4 million global hectares (2.4 per capita)

    Population: 29.9 million

    Malaysia is on pace to reduce carbon emissions 40% by 2020, according to the country’s prime minister, who also noted that emissions were down 33% in 2015 compared to 2005.

  • #46. Poland

    Total ecological footprint: 171.6 million global hectares (4.4 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 80.2 million global hectares (2.1 per capita)

    Population: 38.6 million

    Poland has the fifth-highest greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union, and it is estimated that pollution from fossil fuel combustion contributes to 45,000 deaths in the country each year. Poland has a long history of mining and burning coal, and the country has vetoed legislation that would impose more regulations on the practice.

  • #45. Bhutan

    Total ecological footprint: 3.5 million global hectares (4.6 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 3.9 million global hectares (5.1 per capita)

    Population: 765,000

    Bhutan has abundant carbon sinks, like its forests, that absorb more sources of carbon dioxide annually than sources of pollution. The country is aiming for zero-net greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

  • #44. Slovenia

    Total ecological footprint: 9.7 million global hectares (4.7 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 4.7 million global hectares (2.3 per capita)

    Population: 2.1 million

    Beginning in 2030, Slovenia will no longer allow first-time registration for cars with an internal combustion engine running on petroleum or diesel, in to reduce the country’s carbon footprint. Slovenia is instead focused on increasing the number of electric and hybrid vehicles.

  • #43. Israel

    Total ecological footprint: 37.2 million global hectares (4.7 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 2.1 million global hectares (0.3 per capita)

    Population: 7.9 million

    In 2016, Israeli government officials approved a plan to reduce greenhouse gases and increase energy efficiency. Government officials predicted the plan would save the country more than $8 billion by 2030, when they plans to have reduced carbon emissions by 26%.

  • #42. Belarus

    Total ecological footprint: 44.6 million global hectares (4.7 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 32.6 million global hectares (3.4 per capita)

    Population: 9.5 million

    By 2020, Belarus aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 600 million tons. The country has financed research in wind energy, and taken efforts to re-swamp degraded peat bogs.

  • #41. France

    Total ecological footprint: 301.4 million global hectares (4.7 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 174.9 million global hectares (2.7 per capita)

    Population: 64.2 million

    Though France failed to meet its 2016 goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the government plans to revise its target at the end of this year. While France led efforts towards the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change, its carbon emissions have risen 3.6% since 2015.

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