Where are emissions highest?Up until the mid-twentieth century emissions from human activity were mostly confined to Europe and the United States. However, since then more and more countries have industrialized, specifically in Asia, increasing global energy consumption. In recent decades, China’s rapid development has seen it take the place of the United States as the world’s biggest emitter and in 2019 China produced more than 10 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. This was a quarter of the total global emissions produced that year. The main reason for China’s immense emissions is its heavy reliance on coal as an energy source. Coal combustion is a major source of emissions as it is the most polluting of fossil fuels.
Despite producing the most emissions each year, China’s per capita emissions are far lower than nations such as Australia and the United States, whose inhabitants have a carbon footprint of approximately 15 metric tons of CO2 a year. On average, CO2 emissions per capita worldwide are roughly five metric tons. Poorer nations typically have far lower carbon footprints than wealthier nations, yet often feel the ill-effects of climate change more.