- The world’s top-10 greenhouse gas emitters include China, the United States, the European Union, and India.
- China contributed to an estimated 39% of the world's emissions in 2013.
- Montserrat, Qatar, and Trinidad and Tobago are considered as the highest greenhouse gas emitters for the year 2013 in terms of pre capita.
- Texas, Indiana, and Pennsylvania are the top-states releasing greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
What are Greenhouse Gases?
Global Insight: CO2 Emission Totals
Top-10: CO2 Emission Totals, graphed by highest emitting country (2000-2013)
Countries contributing to most of the world's emissions, by percentage (2013)
The world’s top-10 greenhouse gas emitters include China, the United States, the European Union, and India. The majority of the top-10 emitters have maintained their place since 2010.
These figures, however, do not take account per capita greenhouse emissions for the listed countries. According to the World Resources Institute, the top-10 countries for greenhouse emission, in terms of per capita, are Canada, the United States, Russia, Japan, and the European Union.
China contributed to an estimated 39% of the world's emissions in 2013, followed by the United States (19.9%), and the European Union (13.9%).
Visit the Global Overview Page to explore CO2 emission totals from 1990-2013.
Global Insight: CO2 Emission Totals PC
Top-10: CO2 Emission Totals per capita, graphed by highest emitting country (2013)
Data differs when taking account a particular greenhouse gas, CO2, and analyzing the per capita emissions for countries––as opposed to analyzing all greenhouse gases as above.
In this case, Montserrat, Qatar, and Trinidad and Tobago are considered as the highest emitters for the year 2013.
As demonstrated by the list, the majority of the world's CO2 emitters, per capita, are in the Middle East's Gulf––including Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia––all oil-producing countries.
Visit the Global Overview Page to explore CO2 emission totals per capita from 1990-2013.
Global Emissions: Trends since 1990
Time-series: Total Global Emissions in Kilotons CO2, graphed by year (1990-2013)
This figure shows a time-series of the world’s global emissions from 1990-2013. As demonstrated, global emissions sharply increased from 2000-2010 and have remained steady at between 34 million - 35 million.
Country Insight: United States
On August 3, 2015, President Barak Obama announced the United State’s first “rule” that places limits on carbon emissions from power plants. Obama referred to the proposed limits as the “single most important step America has taken in the fight against global climate change." The rule, enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), aims to achieve a 32% decrease in power-plant carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.
As Obama has noted, the regulation is an important step for the U.S. As demonstrated by the global figures above, the U.S. is one of the top-10 countries emitting greenhouse gases as of 2013, the latest available data. According to a 2008 study, the U.S. is also responsible for an estimated 19% of the world’s global emissions. In 2013 alone, the U.S. has emitted a total of 6,673 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. According to the U.S. EPA, this figure is a 6% increase from 1990 but a 9% decrease from 2005.
The sections below aim to provide a brief case study on the United States and greenhouse emissions.
Greenhouse Emissions, by Gas
U.S. Greenhouse Emissions by Gas, graphed by year (1990-2013)
Statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show that, since 1990, carbon dioxide has been responsible for the majority of greenhouse emissions in the United States.
The emission of methane and nitrous oxide has somewhat fluctuated between 1990 - 2013.
In addition, the emission of HFCs, PFCs, SF6, and NF3 has steadily increased since 2005.
Greenhouse Emissions, by Sector
U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, graphed by economic sector (1990-2013)
As indicated by the figure, emissions from the transportation sector have fluctuated over the years but have been decreasing since 2005. Emissions from the forestry, industry, and electricity generation sector have been steadily decreasing since 2000. On the other hand, the residential, commercial, and agriculture sectors increased from 1992 to 2008, before decreasing for the first time in over a decade.
Please note that the data presented does not include emissions from U.S. territories outside of the 50 states. In addition, figures for both the residential and commercial sectors only show “non-electric sources,” while all electric source emissions are included in the electricity generation sector.
Visit the U.S. Sector Insights Page to explore greenhouse gases emitted annually from 1990-2013, by economic sector.
Greenhouse Emissions, by PC and per GDP
U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions, graphed per capita and per dollar of GDP. (1990-2013)
The figure on the left shows greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 - 2013 per capita and based on emissions per dollar of real GDP. According to U.S. EPA, all figures are “indexed to 1990 as the base year, which is assigned a value of 100.”
Greenhouse Emissions, by State
Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Metric Tons, graphed by State. (2012)
Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Metric Tons, graphed by State.
Explore this map to learn more about greenhouse gas emissions in various states.
Is your state the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions released by the U.S.? According to U.S. EPA, Texas, followed by Indiana, and Pennsylvania are the top-states releasing greenhouse gas emissions. All figures, which are based on 2012 data, show that Texas is by far the highest emitter of greenhouse gases––emitting over 441,237,000 metric tons.
On the other hand, Maine, Idaho, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island release the least greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
Visit the U.S. State Insights Page to explore greenhouse gases emitted statewide from 1990-2013.