The World’s Biggest Polluters

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Here we present a graphical representations of the world’s 20 biggest CO2 emitters, in terms of million metric tonnes.

China has now overtaken the United States as the world’s biggest polluter; its carbon emissions have more than doubled in a decade. However, US and China, world’s biggest polluters, promise to address global climate change at the Climate Change Summit at the UN General Assembly in New York, recently.

India, now the fourth biggest polluter, is also rapidly increasing its emissions, and is increasing its population of 1.15 billion people far faster than any other country; soon its human numbers will be on a par with China’s and its emissions following suit.

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Australia worst for per capita energy consumption

Australia has overtaken the USA and is now classified most at risk out of 185 countries, according to the CO2 Energy Emissions Index (CEEI), released by UK based, global risks analyst, Maplecroft.

Australians now emit 20.58 tons of CO2 per person annually, whereas American’s emit 19.78 tons, almost a 4% difference. Canada meanwhile emits 18.81 tons per person.

In sharp contrast the emerging markets of China and India, considered two of the world’s worst overall CO2 polluters, annually emit 4.5 and 1.16 tons per person respectively.

[Click on the image for larger view.]


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  1. Wow, looks like China and US pollute four times as much as the next country down the list.

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Digg by nmffffd9: Australians seems to be heavy polluters since they give off the most emissions per capita….

    • John Nemaric says:

      The pollotion per capita figure would be a useful measure if most of the countries around the world had similar sized populations. But because they don’t, this figure gives a greatly distorted impression. If there were a country that has a population of say 50 people. And they had a bonfire burning all the time, then they would be the biggest polluters in the world per capita, no doubt. Yet there overall contribution to pollution would be miniscule. Whereas if you had a country with 10 billion people, then even if you had 500 coal fired power plants , their per capita pollution would be low, but their overall level of pollution would be enormous.

      • David Dixon says:

        Good point about the downside of per capita info. The upside is that it provides a measure of the efficiency a given political state has at controlling its pollution.

  3. Richard Dawkins says:

    Notice how the circular graph is misaligned so that Russia looks longer than America. Naughty. Also, it should be “USA” not “America”. Canada is part of the American continent.

  4. Mandala Reopens says:

    Stop (reduce) meat consumption … Livestock farming contributes more to global warming than other single factor.

  5. walkerjian says:

    Stupid way to do it. Per Capita means nothing – you could reduce OZ per capita consumption to zero and it would not make the slightest difference to the CO2 (and others?) in the air.
    Per Capita is just a red herring cast out by the major polluters to offset ‘blame’ from themselves. Want to do something about ‘global warming’? Don’t barf on about per capita and reduce the actual amount of CO2 belched into the air. Perhaps the best thing OZ could do is stop exporting coal. That would fix things a bit, wouldn’t it?

  6. alex says:

    Great chart—Americas Quarterly just released something in the same vein that ranks the world’s nations by their environmental policies. You can download it here:

  7. Mr notsocialist says:

    It makes a lot of sense, the world’s most populous countries are the worst polluters.

    Population explosion should be addresses also- maybe because this is perhaps one of the major root causes..

  8. En Sabah Nur says:

    @Richard Dawkins

    You’re right, but also China is “hiding”; but anyway, it is naughty.

  9. robyn aylward says:

    Sorry, I might be thick or something but the pollution graph
    per capita, I see it as, if Australia say had a population of 100 million in fact then we would be one of the smallest polluters. In fact Australia has one of the worlds smallest populations and one of the greatest space per person. How can we be the biggest Polluter in real terms? Can someone put me straight.

  10. amy says:

    it would be helpful to point out that Pollution and CO2 emissions are 2 totally different things. pollution involves particulates such as Vox, Nox, etc. and CO2 is Greenhouse gas, NOT a pollutant…

    Pollution contributes to poor air quality, depletion of the ozone layer. and Greenhouse gasses such as CO2 and Methane lead to global warming.

    It may behoove the author to change this title..

  11. Down Under says:

    Many volatile organic compounds burn/oxidize to CO2. Benzene, a class 1 carcinogen burns to CO2. If benzene misses the burning process through incomplete combustion, it dumps in rivers, oceans, air, paddocks perhaps even on your dinner plate?

    CO elevates tropospheric ozone and methane before oxidizing to CO2.

    And yes, most volatile organic compounds are also hazardous air pollutants too. However, volatile organic compounds, when combined with nitrogen oxides, react to form ground-level ozone, or smog, which contributes to climate change. Burning fewer VOCs mitigates CO2 emissions.

    Most assuredly, CO2 is a pollutant. It is simply the end product of some of the most dangerous chemicals known. All fossil fuel pollutants are inter-connected and pose a serious threat to human and animal health and our fragile planet.

    There is no justification for the author to amend the title of his article.

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