Every other day, new alarming articles appear about climate change and global warming, and the disastrous consequences for us, our children, and the other species on the planet.
The time of skepticism is behind us, as 97% of actively publishing climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. There is also an agreement that global warming has to be contained below 2° Celsius above the pre-industrial levels; otherwise, there may be no turning back, and it will most probably mark to the end of our civilization. This is seriously scary.
Obviously, we are all responsible for this, but some more than others!
As a reminder, the countries which generate the most greenhouse gases, based on CO2 data from 2016, are the following (cf. European Commission):
- China with 10,432,751 ktons
- USA with 5,011,686 ktons
- India with 2,533,638 ktons
- Russia with 1,661,899 ktons
But I wanted to look deeper to discover which country contributes the most to greenhouse gases per capita.
I ended up on the website of the World Bank Group which gathers a lot of data about greenhouse gas emissions, and I pulled out this graph:
Carbon Dioxide emissions per capita (2014)
This graph is based on 2014 data, but if you look at other sources like the European Commission website, which conveys data up to 2016, you'll see that the situation has not changed much.
So, the bad boys (and girls!) are:
- North Americans with 16.35 tons per capita
- Australians with 15.37 tons per capita
- Russians with 11.86 tons per capita
Let's put that in perspective:
- Chinese are in 4th position, with 7.54 tons per capita, which is 2.2 times less than North Americans!
- Europeans from EU are in 5th position, with 6.38 tons per capita, which is 2.5 times less than North Americans!
This article of the New York Times comes to the same conclusion: The U.S. Is the Biggest Carbon Polluter in History. It Just Walked Away From the Paris Climate Deal.
This is extremely interesting, especially for me, being French and married to an American.
If you're interested in digging into this topic a bit more, I tried to compile the reasons why there is such a difference between North America and Europe in this article: Why does each American produce 2.5 times more CO2 than each European?