A decade ago, China usurped the throne as the world’s biggest emitter of CO2. But China also has 1.3 billion people, which means its emissions divided by the population is not that high. The graph attached to this post shows CO2 emissions from fossil fuel and industry divided by population size. Still, the Middle Kingdom has pulled ahead of both the European Union and the world average. Canada, Saudi Arabia and the United States have emissions per person more than twice that. The population size of the US means it also rates as the world’s second largest carbon emitter. As for Canada and Saudi Arabia, they have only about 30 million people, yet the enormous carbon footprint of their inhabitants mean the two countries are responsible for 1.3% and 1.5% of all global emissions each year. For comparison, Sub-Saharan Africa, with almost one billion people, emit less than one tonne each on an annual basis. It should go without saying that the industrialized countries have an enormous obligations to help poor countries develop without increasing their emissions.
This isn’t a representation of all the top emitters, but a cross-section pulling out some of the more important countries from top to bottom. Other notable carbon profligate countries include Australia and Russia, while the highest emissions per capita in the world actually belong to Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Qatar’s emission rate is staggering: nearly 40 tonnes of emissions per person per year. Fortunately, these countries are so small they are only worth about 1% of global emissions together.