The world’s countries emit vastly different amounts of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. The chart above and table below both show data compiled by the International Energy Agency, which estimates carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the combustion of coal, natural gas, oil, and other fuels, including industrial waste and non-renewable municipal waste.
Here we rank the top 20 highest emitters of cumulative carbon dioxide in 2017 (the most recent available data).
The 20 countries that emitted the most carbon dioxide in 2017
The rankings change when we account for the population of each country (ie, per capita emissions).
2017 rankings by per capita emissions
The picture that emerges from these figures is one where—in general—developed countries and major emerging economy nations lead in total carbon dioxide emissions.
However, developed nations typically have high carbon dioxide emissions per capita, while some developing countries lead in the growth rate of carbon dioxide emissions. These uneven contributions to the climate crisis are at the core of the challenges the world community faces in finding effective and equitable solutions to global warming.