The generation of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through the burning of fossil fuel has increased exponentially in scale since the Industrial Revolution. The United States was long the worst culprit, until it was overhauled by a rapidly developing China in 2006.
Since then, the United States has managed to reduce its carbon emissions by 11 percent over the past five years, primarily as a result of reduced coal consumption alongside increased gas and wind power generation. In 2012, the country generated 1.4 billion tons of carbon through fossil fuel burning, 15.3 percent of the worldwide total.
Since it overtook the United States, China has shown no signs of slowing down as it speeds along the pollution highway. Today, almost 2.4 billion tons of carbon, 26.1 percent of the world’s total, comes from China.
Developing countries started to overtake industrialised nations in terms of carbon generation around 2005. India rounds off the top three worst offenders, creating some 596 million tons of carbon dioxide through fossil fuel burning in 2012. This represents 6.5 percent of worldwide CO2 emissions.
Outside the top ten nations represented here, the rest of the world generated a combined total of 3.2 billion tons of CO2 emissions, equating to 35 percent worldwide. Putting the figures into perspective, China and the United States account for 40 percent of the planet’s CO2 emissions through fossil fuel burning.