Which countries are the biggest polluters?

·3-min read

In 2021, CO2 emissions will have undergone their second largest increase in history: an additional 1.5 billion tonnes, according to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

In 2018, the Global Carbon Atlas published the list of the most polluting countries in the world. Here are the top 15 countries included in the ranking.

1. China

China is at the top of the list, with 10 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted per year. This represents almost 28% of total global emissions. The world’s most polluting country is fighting to eliminate its CO2 emissions from the atmosphere by 2030.

2. The United States

The United States had been at the top of the ranking for more than 160 years. Currently, the country emits about 5.2 billion tonnes of CO2 per year.

3. India

India emits around 2.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. The burning of oil and the increase in consumer goods, such as automobiles and electronic products, are the main drivers behind its high emissions.

4. Russia

Mass industrialisation during the Soviet era continues to have consequences for Russians and places the country in fourth place, with 1.6 billion tonnes of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere each year.

5. Japan

Emitting 1.1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, Japan has identified industrial production as the main villain in the fight against global pollution.

6. Iran

Iran is responsible for pumping 780 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. In 2010, the authorities had to declare a public holiday in the city of Tehran due to the high levels of air pollution in the country’s capital.

7. Germany

Germany is the most polluting nation in the EU. With 702 million tonnes of CO2 emitted annually, the Germans’ thermoelectric plants and the expansion of the livestock sector are primarily responsible.

8. Indonesia

Indonesia ranks eighth and emits 618 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. In 2018, Jakarta residents sued the country’s government for negligence over air pollution.

9. South Korea

The country that represents the fourth largest economy in Asia releases 611 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year. The city of Seoul is the most polluted city in South Korea, as it is home to most of the country’s industrial zones.

10. Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia emits 582 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. This country is the world’s largest oil exporter and its capital, Riyadh, was once considered the most polluted city in the world.

11. Canada

The approximately 577 million tonnes of CO2 that Canada sends annually into the atmosphere have already had noticeable effects in the country itself: this year, the greenhouse effect has made Canadians endure temperatures above 49ºC.

12. South Africa

South Africa emits 479 million tonnes of CO2. According to researchers from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, pollution kills more people on the African continent than diseases caused by untreated water and malnutrition.

13. Brazil

With 466 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted annually, Brazil is among the most polluting Latin American countries. The goal is to achieve CO2 neutrality by 2050.

14. Mexico

Until the 1990s, Mexico City was considered the most polluted city in the world. Mexico emits 439 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually and aims to reduce this amount by 22% by 2030.

15. Australia

Australia emits 411 million tonnes of CO2 and has been fighting forest fires for years, one of the main reasons for the country’s air pollution. From July 2019 to January 2020, the country had about 10 million hectares destroyed by fires.

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