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Global CO2 emissions by select country 2009-2019

China and the United States are the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the world by far, releasing 10 and five billion metric tons of CO2 respectively in 2019. However, whilst emissions in the United States have declined since 2009, China’s carbon emissions have increased significantly.

Cumulative emissions

Although China is currently the largest producer of CO2 emissions, its cumulative emissions are considerably less than the United States. Since 1750, the U.S. has released almost 400 billion metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, though most of this has occurred in the last century. The wide gap is mainly because China is still a developing nation. Since 1990, per capita territorial CO2 emissions in China have increased by 240 percent. In comparison, per capita emissions in the west have noticeably dropped. In late 2020, President Xi Jinping announced that China would hit peak emissions before 2030, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

Impact of COVID-19 on emissions

Although global greenhouse gas levels have been rising annually for some time, the impact of COVID-19 on emissions has resulted in the biggest drop in CO2 emissions ever. This was mainly due to energy demand falling because of strict lockdowns, as well as transportation bans.

Carbon dioxide emissions in 2009 and 2019, by select country*

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Release date

December 2020



Survey time period

2009 and 2019

Supplementary notes

*The values have been rounded.

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Statistics on "Greenhouse gas emissions worldwide"

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