Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data

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Global Emissions by Gas

At the global scale, the key greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are:

Global GHG emissions by gas: 65% is from carbon dioxide fossil fuel use and industrial processes. 11% is from carbon dioxide deforestation, decay of biomass, etc. 16% is from methane. 6% is from nitrous oxide and 2% is from fluorinated gases.Source: IPCC (2014) Exit based on global emissions from 2010. Details about the sources included in these estimates can be found in the Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate ChangeExit
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2): Fossil fuel use is the primary source of CO2.  CO2 can also be emitted from direct human-induced impacts on forestry and other land use, such as through deforestation, land clearing for agriculture, and degradation of soils. Likewise, land can also remove CO2 from the atmosphere through reforestation, improvement of soils, and other activities.
  • Methane (CH4): Agricultural activities, waste management, energy use, and biomass burning all contribute to CH4 emissions.
  • Nitrous oxide (N2O): Agricultural activities, such as fertilizer use, are the primary source of N2O emissions. Fossil fuel combustion also generates N2O.
  • Fluorinated gases (F-gases): Industrial processes, refrigeration, and the use of a variety of consumer products contribute to emissions of F-gases, which include hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).

Black carbon is a solid particle or aerosol, not a gas, but it also contributes to warming of the atmosphere. Learn more about black carbon and climate change on our Causes of Climate Change page.

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Global Emissions by Economic Sector

Global greenhouse gas emissions can also be broken down by the economic activities that lead to their production.[1]

Pie chart showing emissions by sector. 25% is from electricity and heat production; 14% from transport; 6% from residential and commercial buildings; 21% from industry; 24% from agriculture, forestry and other land use; 10% from other energy uses.Source: IPCC (2014)Exit based on global emissions from 2010. Details about the sources included in these estimates can be found in the Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate ChangeExit
  • Electricity and Heat Production (25% of 2010 global greenhouse gas emissions): The burning of coal, natural gas, and oil for electricity and heat is the largest single source of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Industry (21% of 2010 global greenhouse gas emissions): Greenhouse gas emissions from industry primarily involve fossil fuels burned on site at facilities for energy. This sector also includes emissions from chemical, metallurgical, and mineral transformation processes not associated with energy consumption and emissions from waste management activities. (Note: Emissions from industrial electricity use are excluded and are instead covered in the Electricity and Heat Production sector.)
  • Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use (24% of 2010 global greenhouse gas emissions): Greenhouse gas emissions from this sector come mostly from agriculture (cultivation of crops and livestock) and deforestation. This estimate does not include the CO2 that ecosystems remove from the atmosphere by sequestering carbon in biomass, dead organic matter, and soils, which offset approximately 20% of emissions from this sector.[2] 
  • Transportation (14% of 2010 global greenhouse gas emissions): Greenhouse gas emissions from this sector primarily involve fossil fuels burned for road, rail, air, and marine transportation. Almost all (95%) of the world's transportation energy comes from petroleum-based fuels, largely gasoline and diesel.
  • Buildings (6% of 2010 global greenhouse gas emissions): Greenhouse gas emissions from this sector arise from onsite energy generation and burning fuels for heat in buildings or cooking in homes. (Note: Emissions from electricity use in buildings are excluded and are instead covered in the Electricity and Heat Production sector.)
  • Other Energy (10% of 2010 global greenhouse gas emissions): This source of greenhouse gas emissions refers to all emissions from the Energy sector which are not directly associated with electricity or heat production, such as fuel extraction, refining, processing, and transportation.

Note on emissions sector categories.

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Trends in Global Emissions

Line graph of global carbon emissions from fossil fuels.  It shows a slow increase from about 500 million metric tons in 1990 to about 1,500 in 1950. After 1950, the increase in emissions is more rapid, reaching almost 9,900 in 2014.Source: Boden, T.A., Marland, G., and Andres, R.J. (2017). Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2Emissions. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tenn., U.S.A. doi 10.3334/CDIAC/00001_V2017.Global carbon emissions from fossil fuels have significantly increased since 1900. Since 1970, CO2 emissions have increased by about 90%, with emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes contributing about 78% of the total greenhouse gas emissions increase from 1970 to 2011. Agriculture, deforestation, and other land-use changes have been the second-largest contributors.[1]
 
Emissions of non-CO2 greenhouse gases have also increased significantly since 1900. To learn more about past and projected global emissions of non-CO2 gases, please see the EPA report, Global Anthropogenic Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions: 1990-2020.

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Emissions by Country

Pie chart that shows country share of greenhouse gas emission. 30% comes from China, 15% from the United States, 9% from the EU-28, 7% from India, 5% from the Russian Federation, 4% from Japan, and 30% from other countries.Source: Boden, T.A., Marland, G., and Andres, R.J. (2017). National CO2 Emissions from Fossil-Fuel Burning, Cement Manufacture, and Gas Flaring: 1751-2014, Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, doi 10.3334/CDIAC/00001_V2017.In 2014, the top carbon dioxide (CO2) emitters were China, the United States, the European Union, India, the Russian Federation, and Japan. These data include CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion, as well as cement manufacturing and gas flaring. Together, these sources represent a large proportion of total global CO2 emissions.

Emissions and sinks related to changes in land use are not included in these estimates. However, changes in land use can be important: estimates indicate that net global greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, forestry, and other land use were over 8 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent,[2] or about 24% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.[3] In areas such as the United States and Europe, changes in land use associated with human activities have the net effect of absorbing CO2, partially offsetting the emissions from deforestation in other regions.

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References

1. IPCC (2014). Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change . Exit Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann, J. Savolainen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J.C. Minx (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

2. FAO (2014). Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use Emissions by Sources and Removals by Sinks.(89 pp, 3.5 M, About PDF) Exit Climate, Energy and Tenure Division, FAO.

3. IPCC (2014): Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.(80 pp, 4.2 M, About PDF) Exit [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, 151 pp.

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Note on emissions sector categories:

The global emission estimates described on this page are from the Intergovernmental Panel (IPCC) on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report. In this report, some of the sector categories are defined differently from how they are defined in the Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions page on this website. Transportation, Industry, Agriculture, and Land Use and Forestry are four global emission sectors that roughly correspond to the U.S. sectors. Energy Supply, Commercial and Residential Buildings, and Waste and Wastewater are categorized slightly differently. For example, the IPCC's Energy Supply sector for global emissions encompasses the burning of fossil fuel for heat and energy across all sectors. In contrast, the U.S. Sources discussion tracks emissions from the electric power separately and attributes on-site emissions for heat and power to their respective sectors (i.e., emissions from gas or oil burned in furnaces for heating buildings are assigned to the residential and commercial sector). The IPCC has defined Waste and Wastewater as a separate sector, while in the Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions page, waste and wastewater emissions are attributed to the Commercial and Residential sector.