Greenhouse gases are responsible for trapping heat in the atmosphere, resulting in a warmer planet thanks to a process known as the greenhouse effect. One of the most abundant greenhouses gases is carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon dioxide is released as a byproduct of several human activities including the burning of fossil fuels. China produces the highest CO2 emission of any country in the world, followed by the United States.

Countries With the Highest CO2 Emissions

In 2015, the total global CO2 emissions stood at a massive 36,061,710 kilotons. China tops the list with an emission of around 10,641,789 kilotons, which was about 29.51% of total global emissions. The United States was next with emissions totaling 5,172,336 kilotons. In third place was the European Union with 3,469,671 kilotons. India and Russia close the top five with CO­2 emissions of 2,454,968 kilotons and 1,760,895 kilotons respectively. Canada closes the top ten with emissions of around 555,601 kilotons.


One of the reasons why China has the highest carbon dioxide emissions is its high population of around 1.37 billion people. As this population increases, more and more people are available to buy cars, bigger homes, and other appliances, which emit carbon dioxide as a byproduct. This high population is further coupled with an increase in the industrialization of the country, which includes establishing new factories and industries that produce emissions. An example of such an industry is the coal industry, which accounts for around two-thirds of the energy needs of China.

United States

Looking at the United States, the situation is more or less the same as that of China above. Recent data shows that the transport sector in the US is now the biggest contributor to carbon dioxide emissions. Most of these emissions come from new vehicles, which contribute about 80% of the total emission from the transport sector. Prior to this, the biggest source of emissions was the power generation sector, which includes factories that deal with things like coal. One of the reasons why the transport sector has overtaken the energy sector is the low price of fuel in the country. Consequently, more people can afford to drive bigger cars. To combat these emissions, the US government has come up with regulations that require carmakers to manufacture cars that burn fuel more efficiently.


In the case of the last country on the list, Canada, there are a number of leading emitters. The major sources include the oil and gas industry, transportation, electricity production, heavy industries, and others. The oil and gas industry involves the combustion of fossil fuels in order to produce energy for industries, domestic use, and other things. Electricity has to be the sector that has had the greatest reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. One of the reasons for the reduction of emissions from electricity production is Canada’s shift from burning coal for energy to other more efficient sources such as renewable energy. Leaps in technology have also helped in making the electricity production processes more efficient.

Carbon Emissions By Country
RankCountryCarbon Emissions
1 China10,641,789
2 United States5,172,336
3 European Union3,469,671
4 India2,454,968
5 Russia1,760,895
6 Japan1,252,890
7 Germany777,905
8 Iran633,750
9 South Korea617,285