Emissions are a major concern worldwide, not only because of their negative impact on the global climate, but also on human health. Emissions from human activities have been rising for centuries, but it is mainly since the mid-twentieth century that they have seen such dramatic growth. This is due to the increased combustion of fossil fuels for energy related industries. This growth has resulted in emissions and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels reaching record breaking highs.

The rise in emissions has led to governmental policies and regulations being introduced to curb their rise, such as the Paris Agreement. However, history shows that noticeable reductions in emissions typically only occur during major global events such a wars and financial crises. The largest reduction ever occurred in 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and its subsequent impacts on global industries. Despite this, emissions are expected to rebound at a fast pace as the world economy looks to recover.

Global CO2 emissions in 2020
34.07 billion metric tons
Average CO2 levels in the atmosphere as of 2020
414.01 ppm
Biggest contributor to global CO2 emissions since 1750
United States

Market size

Which country produces the most emissions?
Carbon dioxide emissions in 2010 and 2020, by select country (in million metric tons)
Further details: Visit original statistic

After years of rapid economic growth, China is now the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, and in 2019 released more than 10 billion metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. This was roughly a quarter of the total global emissions produced that year, and twice the emissions released by the second largest emitter, the United States. Although China now emits the most carbon dioxide each year, the United States has released the most emissions cumulatively.

Emissions worldwide
Climate change in China
Emissions in the U.S.

Market segments

Most polluting sector
Global carbon dioxide emissions in 2020, by sector (in billion metric tons of carbon dioxide)
Further details: Visit original statistic

Energy-related industries are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Although the most polluting sector varies from country to country, the power sector emits the most CO2 on a global scale. In 2018, the electricity and heat production sector released almost 14 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The second greatest contributor to global CO2 emissions is transportation, specifically, road transportation.

Global CO2 emissions related to energy
Transport emissions in the U.S.
Global Energy Industry

Industry trends

Emissions in Asia are on the rise
Carbon dioxide emissions worldwide from 1965 to 2020, by region* (in million metric tons of carbon dioxide)
Further details: Visit original statistic

Historically, Europe and North America have been the largest carbon dioxide emitting regions. However, in recent decades emissions in these regions have slowed down, with noticeable reductions in Europe. In comparison, emissions in the Asia-Pacific region have been steadily rising as economies improve, and it is now the most polluting region worldwide. Overall, the rise in emissions in this region has mainly been fueled by China.

Global cumulative CO2 emissions by region
Global cumulative CO2 emission shares by region
Carbon dioxide emissions APAC 2017 by sector

Industry leaders

Which companies have produced the most CO2 emissions?
Select fossil fuel companies based on greenhouse gas emissions worldwide between 1965 and 2018 (in billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent)
Further details: Visit original statistic

Fossil fuel companies are by far the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The twenty biggest emitters have contributed roughly 35 percent of total global emissions since 1965. Of these companies, the leading polluter is Saudi Aramco. In the last half century, the state-owned oil and gas giant has emitted roughly 60 billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere. Other major polluters include Chevron, Gazprom, and ExxonMobil.

Saudi Aramco

Unique aspect

Global air quality
Average PM2.5 concentration of the most polluted countries in the world in 2019 and 2020* (in micrograms per cubic meter of air)
Further details: Visit original statistic

The increase in fossil fuel combustion has not only warmed the planet, it has also worsened air quality in many regions. This is especially the case in India, where concentrations of PM2.5 particulate matter in cities such as Delhi have reached hazardous levels. Air pollution is now one of the leading causes of premature deaths worldwide, cutting millions of lives short every year.

Average PM2.5 levels in the most polluted capital cities worldwide
Global deaths caused by air pollution 2019, by country
Pollution in India

Industry Definition

The emissions category offers data on current and historic emissions at global, regional, and country levels. Within this sector, Statista provides information about greenhouse gas emissions, as well as air pollutants such as PM2.5 particulate matter and nitrogen oxides.


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