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Countries contributing the highest carbon emissions

  • Countries contributing the highest carbon emissions
    1/ Pxhere

    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
    2/ ML5909 // Pixabay

    #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
    3/ No Attribution Required // Maxpixel

    #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
    4/ Malek_sreti // Pixabay

    #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
    5/ Paweł Szymankiewicz // Goodfreephotos

    #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
    6/ Dennis Jarvis

    #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
    7/ Ani Modak // Wikicommons

    #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
    8/ Doremo // Wikicommons

    #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
    9/ No Attribution Required // Goodfreephotos

    #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
    10/ Nigel Swales // Flickr

    #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
    11/ Walkerssk // Pixabay

    #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.

  • #40. Ireland
    12/ AS_Photographics // Pixabay

    #40. Ireland

    Total ecological footprint: 22.0 million global hectares (4.7 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 16.1 million global hectares (3.4 per capita)

    Population: 4.7 million

    Ireland’s strong economic growth will drive up its total greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, according to projections. The country has increased its fossil fuel consumption, partly due to low fuel prices. Ireland has also expanded its agricultural sector, which has led to increased emissions.

  • #39. Japan
    13/ Guiseppe Milo // Flickr

    #39. Japan

    Total ecological footprint: 601.5 million global hectares (4.7 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 76.7 million global hectares (0.6 per capita)

    Population: 126.8 million

    Greenhouse gas emissions in Japan fell by 0.2% in its last financial year—a six-year low. Japan set a goal to cut its carbon emissions by 26% from 2013 to 2030. Emissions rose after the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in 2011.

  • #38. United Kingdom
    14/ Pxhere

    #38. United Kingdom

    Total ecological footprint: 308.7 million global hectares (4.8 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 77.5 million global hectares (1.2 per capita)

    Population: 64.3 million

    The United Kingdom experienced a 19% decline in coal use in 2017, which drove the country’s carbon emissions down by 2.6%. In 2016, emissions fell 5.8%, thanks to a 52% decline in coal use.

  • #37. Bahamas
    15/ Didier Mosier // Wikicommons

    #37. Bahamas

    Total ecological footprint: 1.8 million global hectares (4.8 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 3.6 million global hectares (9.3 per capita)

    Population: 383,000

    Given its geography, the Bahamas is especially vulnerable to climate change. The government developed its National Climate Adaptation Policy in 2006, and has worked with other countries to implement a regional framework.

  • #36. Switzerland
    16/ McIntosh Natura // Wikicommons

    #36. Switzerland

    Total ecological footprint: 39.8 million global hectares (4.9 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 8.9 million global hectares (1.1 per capita)

    Population: 8.2 million

    With Switzerland’s current policies, the country will fail to meet its goal of reducing carbon emissions by 30% in 2030, according to researchers. Switzerland has also committed to decreasing emissions 20% by 2020.

  • #35. Malta
    17/ Karelj // Wikicommons

    #35. Malta

    Total ecological footprint: 2.0 million global hectares (4.9 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 259,193 global hectares (0.6 per capita)

    Population: 418,000

    In 2017, Malta recorded the highest increase in carbon emissions from energy use in the European Union. The year before, emissions from power plant sources dropped by 34.8%, due to the use of an inter-connector used to reduce pollution.

  • #34. Germany
    18/ Sebastian Unrau // Goodfreephotos

    #34. Germany

    Total ecological footprint: 407.1 million global hectares (5.0 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 144.4 million global hectares (1.8 per capita)

    Population: 80.6 million

    Germany’s carbon emissions per person rose in 2013 and 2015, and the country produces more electricity than it needs. In 2016, 70% of Europe’s biggest polluters were German lignite power plants, fueled by coal.

  • #33. Belize
    19/ Dronepicr // Wikicommons

    #33. Belize

    Total ecological footprint: 1.8 million global hectares (5.2 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 1.4 million global hectares (4.0 per capita)

    Population: 352,000

    Belize faces significant climate change threat in sea level rise, and many citizens are too poor to move or use resources to reduce their own carbon footprint. Organizations have recommended that the country take an action-based approach to mitigate climate change by factoring in adequate financial and technological support.

  • #32. Brunei Darussalam
    20/ Muhammad NurHanif bin Haji Med Ali // Wikicommons

    #32. Brunei Darussalam

    Total ecological footprint: 2.3 million global hectares (5.5 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 1.2 million global hectares (2.8 per capita)

    Population: 417,000

    Heat-related deaths among the elderly in Brunei Darussalam will increase to about 51 per 100,000 people by 2080, according to a projected scenario. It was also suggested that vector-borne diseases will increase, and the mean annual temperature will rise by more than three degrees Celsius.
     

  • #31. Turkmenistan
    21/ Hergit // Wikicommons

    #31. Turkmenistan

    Total ecological footprint: 29.5 million global hectares (5.6 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 13.8 million global hectares (2.6 per capita)

    Population: 5.3 million

    Turkmenistan had not established mandatory targets on energy efficiency or renewable energy by the end of 2014. However, the country's general goal is for greenhouse gas emissions to be lower than the growth rate of the country’s GDP between 2015 and 2030. Turkmenistan also has a national strategy on climate change, which focuses on adaptive measures.

  • #30. Russian Federation
    22/ No Attribution Required // Maxpixel

    #30. Russian Federation

    Total ecological footprint: 798.6 million global hectares (5.6 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 986.3 million global hectares (6.9 per capita)

    Population: 143.4 million

    The Russian government has delayed the adoption of climate policies, and the Russian Federation is the only large carbon emitter that has not ratified the Paris Agreement. Researchers have estimated that Russia’s currently implemented policies will lead to an increase of emissions from 4% to 11% above 2015 levels.

  • #29. Czech Republic
    23/ Michael Beaton // Flickr

    #29. Czech Republic

    Total ecological footprint: 59.0 million global hectares (5.6 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 28.0 million global hectares (2.7 per capita)

    Population: 10.5 million

    The Czech Republic is responsible for approximately 0.3% of the world’s global carbon emissions. The country’s per capita annual emissions is 35% higher than the European Union average, and seven times higher than India.

  • #28. Latvia
    24/ Diliff // Wikicommons

    #28. Latvia

    Total ecological footprint: 11.2 million global hectares (5.6 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 15.9 million global hectares (8.0 per capita)

    Population: 2.0 million

    Environmental responsibility is becoming a higher priority in Latvia. The country's climate change mitigation policy creates a basis for more sustainable development.

  • #27. Micronesia, Federated States of
    25/ Dept. of Foreign Affairs // Flickr

    #27. Micronesia, Federated States of

    Total ecological footprint: 591,468 global hectares (5.7 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 398,484 global hectares (3.8 per capita)

    Population: 104,000

    The Federated States of Micronesia have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 28% by 2025. The country reduced its emissions from 2013 to 2014.

  • #26. Lithuania
    26/ No Attribution Required // Maxpixel

    #26. Lithuania

    Total ecological footprint: 16.9 million global hectares (5.8 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 14.6 million global hectares (5.0 per capita)

    Population: 2.9 million

    Lithuania is emitting increasingly more greenhouse gases. In 2015, the country’s energy sector was responsible for 55% of total emissions. The largest sources of pollutants were transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, and waste.

  • #25. Kazakhstan
    27/ Ken and Nyetta // Flickr

    #25. Kazakhstan

    Total ecological footprint: 101.0 million global hectares (5.8 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 59.9 million global hectares (3.4 per capita)

    Population: 17.4 million

    Kazakhstan has had difficulty meeting its emission goals, as it simultaneously plans to expand its oil and coal sectors. The country has set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2030, including emissions from land use and forestry.

  • #24. Korea, Republic of
    28/ Iwy // Wikicommons

    #24. Korea, Republic of

    Total ecological footprint: 291.2 million global hectares (5.8 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 34.3 million global hectares (0.7 per capita)

    Population: 50.1 million

    South Korea aims to expand its share of renewable electricity in 2030 to 20%. However, more than a third of the country’s electricity by 2030 may remain dependent on coal. Under the current policy, South Korea’s greenhouse gas emissions will more than double from 1990s levels by 2030.

  • #23. Kiribati
    29/ Luigi Guarino // Wikicommons

    #23. Kiribati

    Total ecological footprint: 645,516 global hectares (5.8 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 142,258 global hectares (1.3 per capita)

    Population: 110,000

    Kiribati is especially vulnerable to climate change, and the country is concentrated on adapting to rather than mitigating climate change. In 2005, Kiribati’s carbon emissions were lower than nearly every other country.

  • #22. Singapore
    30/ Merlion44 // Wikicommons

    #22. Singapore

    Total ecological footprint: 32.3 million global hectares (5.9 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 322,964 global hectares (0.1 per capita)

    Population: 5.5 million

    Singapore plans to implement a carbon tax next year to encourage growth in renewable energy. While the country has been focused on energy-efficient programs, it also faces an increasing demand from its industrial sectors. The rise in demand will inevitably lead to higher emissions.

  • #21. Austria
    31/ Chensiyuan // Wikicommons

    #21. Austria

    Total ecological footprint: 50.0 million global hectares (5.9 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 25.7 million global hectares (3.0 per capita)

    Population: 8.5 million

    Austria was one of four countries in 2016 to ask the European Union to increase its 2030 climate targets. Austrian agricultural affairs expert Andrä Rupprechter said, “We would have expected more in the way of ambition.”

  • #20. Netherlands
    32/ Neshom // Pixabay

    #20. Netherlands

    Total ecological footprint: 99.9 million global hectares (5.9 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 14.6 million global hectares (0.9 per capita)

    Population: 16.9 million

    In June, seven Dutch political parties released a climate policy proposal considered to be one of the loftiest targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions in the world. If the proposal—which has bipartisan support—becomes law, it will be the world’s eighth national climate law.
     

  • #19. Cook Islands
    33/ Gemma Longman // Wikicommons

    #19. Cook Islands

    Total ecological footprint: 123,442 global hectares (6.0 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 24,785 global hectares (1.2 per capita)

    Population: 21,000

    Climate change has proved incredibly harmful to Cook Islands’ ecosystems, infrastructure, and economy. Half of the country's islands had switched from diesel-based to renewable electricity by 2015.

  • #18. Saudi Arabia
    34/ 12019 // Pixabay

    #18. Saudi Arabia

    Total ecological footprint: 185.4 million global hectares (6.0 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 12.8 million global hectares (0.4 per capita)

    Population: 30.9 million

    Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil producer, so most of the country’s carbon emissions come from consumption of petroleum products. Per capita carbon emissions in the country have grown tenfold since 1950, and are significantly above the global average.

  • #17. Norway
    35/ Guiseppe Milo // Flickr

    #17. Norway

    Total ecological footprint: 31.1 million global hectares (6.0 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 38.2 million global hectares (7.4 per capita)

    Population: 5.1 million

    The Norwegian Parliament passed a law last year that instituted legally binding emission reduction targets for 2030 and 2050 as part of Norway’s effort to achieve carbon neutrality. However, current projections reveal that existing policies will only cut emissions by 6% by 2030.

  • #16. Finland
    36/ Guiseppe Milo // Flickr

    #16. Finland

    Total ecological footprint: 33.4 million global hectares (6.1 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 70.5 million global hectares (12.9 per capita)

    Population: 5.5 million

    Total carbon emissions from Finland in 2016 rose 6% from 2015, with emissions produced from transport and electricity accounting for the sharpest rise. Emissions from the trading sector also exceeded the EU's allocated amount by more than one million tons in 2016.

  • #15. Oman
    37/ Andries Oudshoorn // Wikicommons

    #15. Oman

    Total ecological footprint: 26.8 million global hectares (6.3 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 6.5 million global hectares (1.5 per capita)

    Population: 4.2 million

    Oil and natural gas make up a substantial percentage of Oman’s GDP, and are the lead source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country. Oman’s carbon emissions increase as it uses more fossil fuels.
     

  • #14. Sweden
    38/ Elizaveta Butryn // Wikicommons

    #14. Sweden

    Total ecological footprint: 64.0 million global hectares (6.6 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 94.5 million global hectares (9.7 per capita)

    Population: 9.7 million

    Sweden passed legislation last year committing to becoming carbon-neutral by 2045, five years earlier than initially planned. The new climate laws are part of Sweden’s new policy framework, which outlines goals for an eventual dedicated council.

  • #13. Trinidad and Tobago
    39/ Kalamazadkhan // Wikicommons

    #13. Trinidad and Tobago

    Total ecological footprint: 9.1 million global hectares (6.7 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 2.1 million global hectares (1.6 per capita)

    Population: 1.4 million

    Despite its small population, Trinidad and Tobago produces an average of 1,150 tons of waste per day, an amount the United Nations describes as “quite substantial.” Landfill gas emitted from waste amounts to 350,000 tons of carbon emissions per year.

  • #12. Belgium
    40/ Russ Bowling // Flickr

    #12. Belgium

    Total ecological footprint: 75.3 million global hectares (6.7 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 10.5 million global hectares (0.9 per capita)

    Population: 11.2 million

    In 2014, Belgium had the fifth-largest carbon footprint in the world, some of which can be blamed on the country’s multitude of old, poorly insulated buildings. Properly insulated buildings would significantly reduce energy bills and cut carbon emissions.

  • #11. Australia
    41/ Akenaric // Goodfreephotos

    #11. Australia

    Total ecological footprint: 162.7 million global hectares (6.9 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 313.0 million global hectares (13.3 per capita)

    Population: 23.6 million

    The latest Australian government projection showed that carbon emissions are still projected to grow. Climate issues in Australia have been exacerbated, as the country continues to downplay renewable energy.
     

  • #10. Estonia
    42/ NakNakNak // Pixabay

    #10. Estonia

    Total ecological footprint: 9.2 million global hectares (7.0 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 12.8 million global hectares (9.7 per capita)

    Population: 1.3 million

    If Estonia reduces its dependence on oil shale, the country will move toward a greener economy and reduce its air pollution. Oil shale provides 70% of the country's energy supply.

  • #9. Denmark
    43/ 12019 // Pixabay

    #9. Denmark

    Total ecological footprint: 40.2 million global hectares (7.1 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 25.0 million global hectares (4.4 per capita)

    Population: 5.6 million

    A 2017 study showed that the average Danish household has the fifth-highest carbon footprint in the European Union. However, Denmark was recently ranked top among countries that are best prepared to confront the challenges of climate change.

  • #8. Kuwait
    44/ boulanger.ie // Wikicommons

    #8. Kuwait

    Total ecological footprint: 28.7 million global hectares (7.6 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 2.3 million global hectares (0.6 per capita)

    Population: 3.8 million

    The gas prices in Kuwait are among some of the highest in the world. Since the country doesn’t offer public transportation, road travel is the sole means of transportation. The average Kuwaiti uses 22 times more resources per person than the country provides.

  • #7. Canada
    45/ Esther Lee // Flickr

    #7. Canada

    Total ecological footprint: 286.5 million global hectares (8.0 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 542.7 million global hectares (15.2 per capita)

    Population: 35.6 million

    According to projections, Canada is on track to miss its Paris Agreement target to reduce emissions 30% by 2030. Research has suggested that by 2030, carbon emissions in Canada will increase by 7% to 30% above 1990 levels.

  • #6. United States of America
    46/ Sam Valadi // Flickr

    #6. United States of America

    Total ecological footprint: 2672.5 million global hectares (8.4 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 1144.8 million global hectares (3.6 per capita)

    Population: 319.4 million

    Though President Donald Trump has promised to boost coal production, wind and solar energy use increased in 2017 while fossil fuel-based electricity experienced its steepest decline since 2008. The administration has increased tariffs on imported solar cells and modules, which will most likely hinder the adoption of solar energy in the United States.

  • #5. Bahrain
    47/ Wadiia // Wikcommons

    #5. Bahrain

    Total ecological footprint: 11.9 million global hectares (8.7 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 728,229 global hectares (0.5 per capita)

    Population: 1.4 million

    Bahrain’s current “climate debt” as of 2016 is $3,352 per capita, and has increased steadily since 2000. The country’s carbon emissions from fossil fuels has increased about 100% since 1990, and 35% since 2006.

  • #4. Mongolia
    48/ Tiarescott // Flickr

    #4. Mongolia

    Total ecological footprint: 27.6 million global hectares (9.5 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 43.5 million global hectares (15.0 per capita)

    Population: 2.9 million

    In 2012, the land-use and forestry sectors accounted for 44% of carbon emissions from Mongolia. The carbon footprint of the country’s economy is about 15 times the world’s average, and its emissions per capita are among the highest in the world.

  • #3. United Arab Emirates
    49/ Robert Luxemburg // Wikicommons

    #3. United Arab Emirates

    Total ecological footprint: 88.6 million global hectares (9.8 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 5.1 million global hectares (0.6 per capita)

    Population: 9.1 million

    The United Arab Emirates deregulated energy prices at the start of 2018. While this is expected to limit the growth of carbon emissions, it is not enough to prevent overall increase. According to 2030 projections, the UAE's greenhouse gas emissions could increase by 50% from 2010 levels.

  • #2. Luxembourg
    50/ Cayambe // Wikicommons

    #2. Luxembourg

    Total ecological footprint: 6.8 million global hectares (12.3 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 765,740 global hectares (1.4 per capita)

    Population: 557,000

    Luxembourg has the second-largest ecological footprint per person in the world by a substantial margin. Despite being a tiny country, Luxembourg has the highest car ownership rate and highest energy consumption per capita in Europe.

  • #1. Qatar
    51/ StellarD // Wikicommons

    #1. Qatar

    Total ecological footprint: 34.0 million global hectares (15.7 per capita)

    Total biocapacity: 2.6 million global hectares (1.2 per capita)

    Population: 2.2 million

    Qatar is among the top consumers in the world of productive land and water, and has the largest ecological footprint per person in the world. A 2014 report found that if everyone on the planet had the ecological footprint of an average Qatari citizen, we would need 4.8 planets.

     

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