Who And What Are The Root Cause Of Climate Change

As the world gears up for a crucial climate summit in Paris this December, a few facts about global warming are worth considering. For one thing, not all nations are equal. The top 10 most polluting countries produce almost three-quarters of all the global emissions. For another, energy plays an outsized role in causing climate change. It accounts for roughly 75% of emissions, internationally speaking. When thinking about how to solve the problem, those two facts loom large.

You can see this clearly in this interactive graphic from the World Resources Institute—and find other ways to parse the climate issue. It shows how each country contributed to climate change in 2012, the latest year for which comparative numbers are available.


Global Top 10 Greenhouse Gas Emitters

In 2012, the top 10 GHG emitters accounted for more than two thirds of the global emissions total. Find the newest data on global greenhouse gas emissions on the CAIT Climate Data Explorer.




Energy plays a big role in all countries, to be sure, but other sectors contribute significantly in some countries. For example, agriculture accounts for about half of Brazil’s emissions, or more than 1% of the worldwide total. Likewise Australia, where agriculture accounts for about 1.5% of global emissions, an enormous amount considering Australia is home to only about 23 million people.

The United States, which produces the second most emissions, has the highest per capita rate—about eight times India’s per head number. But the chart also shows how the developing world is more important these days. Six of the ten biggest emitters are from poorer countries, starting with China, which produces a quarter of the total.

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WRI made the graphic to promote its Climate Data Explorer tool, which it just updated. As we’ve said before, it’s one of the most comprehensive, easy-to-use climate explainers around and well worth a look.


This feature originally appeared in FastCoExist by Ben Schiller.


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