Environment: treading lightly on the Earth
Environment: treading lightly on the Earth

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Environment: treading lightly on the Earth

2.3.2 Total carbon footprints

The picture of carbon footprints changes again when you consider total CO2 emissions for different countries rather than emissions per person. Table 4 shows that by 2011 China had become by far the greatest total emitter of CO2, followed by the USA and India. In terms of consumption-based emissions too, the three greatest CO2 emitters were China, the USA and India (CCC, 2013).

Table 4 Total territorial carbon dioxide emissions for selected countries (CDIAC, 2015; Global Carbon Atlas, 2016)

CountryTotal CO2 (2011), million tonnes per year (rounded) Total CO2 (2015 est.), million tonnes per year (rounded)
United States53065561
Russian Federation18081595
Saudi Arabia520602
South Africa477476
United Kingdom448428
World average (mean)150.8(World total 36 292)
(CDIAC, 2015; Global Carbon Atlas, 2016)
Note: the CO2 emissions shown in Tables 2 and 4 are based on from burning fossil fuels, cement manufacture and gas flaring.

Figure 10 shows more of the same information updated using estimations to 2015, when China, USA and India emitted half of the world’s CO2.

Described image
Figure 10 Estimated total territorial CO2 emissions in 2015 (Global Carbon Atlas, 2016)

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