Special Report

25 Countries That Produce the Most CO2 Emissions

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20. Thailand
> CO2 emissions from fossil fuel (2017): 330.84 million metric tons
> CO2 emissions from fossil fuel per person (2017): 4.8 metric tons
> Change from CO2 emissions in 1992: 206.1%
> Methane emissions (2012): 106.5 million metric tons (CO2e)
> Population (2017): 69.0 million
> GDP per capita (2017): $16,279

Thailand’s GDP quadrupled and its CO2 emissions tripled between 1992 and 2017. Thailand’s energy production from coal expanded by 31.6% between 2006 and 2016 — even as it made a major shift to natural gas.

Thailand has announced in the last few years aggressive goals in reducing its carbon output. Most recently, the country said it will reduce its GHG emissions by 20% by 2030 through increased alternative energy production and improved mass transit.

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19. Italy
> CO2 emissions from fossil fuel (2017): 355.45 million metric tons
> CO2 emissions from fossil fuel per person (2017): 5.9 metric tons
> Change from CO2 emissions in 1992: -19.1%
> Methane emissions (2012): 35.2 million metric tons (CO2e)
> Population (2017): 60.5 million
> GDP per capita (2017): $35,343

Italy’s carbon dioxide emissions peaked in 2004 at 495.5 million metric tons, and then declined to 348.5 million metric tons in 2014. While Italy’s CO2 emissions ticked up in 2017, they were down 19.1% from 1992.

The country reduced its GHG emissions by significantly increasing renewable sources of energy. Between 2006 and 2016, Italy’s energy generation from renewable sources rose 17.0% annually from 3.4 million to 15.5 million tons of oil equivalent.

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18. France
> CO2 emissions from fossil fuel (2017): 356.3 million metric tons
> CO2 emissions from fossil fuel per person (2017): 5.3 metric tons
> Change from CO2 emissions in 1992: -14.9%
> Methane emissions (2012): 81.2 million metric tons (CO2e)
> Population (2017): 67.1 million
> GDP per capita (2017): $38,808

France and Spain have similar levels of per capita emissions, though France has a higher GDP per capita. Because of France’s reliance on nuclear power over the past 40 years, it has produced relatively low, and declining, CO2 emissions. Close to 80% of electricity produced in France comes from nuclear power, the highest such share of any country in the world.

In recent years, France has also reduced its carbon footprint with a strong move toward renewable energy. According to British Petroleum’s (BP) June 2018 Statistics Review of World Energy, energy generation in France from renewable sources rose by 19.9% a year between 2006 and 2016.

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17. United Kingdom
> CO2 emissions from fossil fuel (2017): 384.7 million metric tons
> CO2 emissions from fossil fuel per person (2017): 5.8 metric tons
> Change from CO2 emissions in 1992: -35.2%
> Methane emissions (2012): 59.0 million metric tons (CO2e)
> Population (2017): 66.0 million
> GDP per capita (2017): $39,884

While the United Kingdom ranks among the top emitters of carbon, it has significantly reduced its carbon emissions — by about 35% between 1992 and 2017. Only a few countries in the world can claim any reduction at all, and most of them not nearly the reduction that the U.K. has managed.

The biggest reason for the U.K.’s success in reducing its carbon output is the country’s phasing out of coal-fired power in favor of natural gas and renewables. Other factors include improved energy efficiency from both the residential sector and industry.

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16. Australia
> CO2 emissions from fossil fuel (2017): 413.1 million metric tons
> CO2 emissions from fossil fuel per person (2017): 16.8 metric tons
> Change from CO2 emissions in 1992: 45.0%
> Methane emissions (2012): 125.6 million metric tons (CO2e)
> Population (2017): 24.6 million
> GDP per capita (2017): $44,643

With less than half the population of Great Britain, Australia also had less than half the carbon emissions of the U.K. in 1992. By 2017, the relative carbon output shifted dramatically, with Australia emitting more than the U.K. as Britain reduced its use of fossil fuels.

Over the last decade, Australia’s emissions from energy production have leveled off, but emissions from industrial and transportation sources have increased significantly. Though Australia has added to its renewable energy resources, it is still planning a new coal-fired power plant and may have a difficult time meeting its Paris Agreement obligations.

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