Charting the Climate Change Crisis

Analysis of global greenhouse gas emissions data points to the sectors, activities, and countries that are the biggest contributors.

1 minute read

February 23, 2020, 5:00 AM PST

By Camille Fink


Air Pollution

Riffsyphon1024 (Steven Greenwood) [Public domain] / Wikimedia Commons

Mengpin Ge and Johannes Friedrich review a series of charts from the World Resource Institute’s ClimateWatch greenhouse gas emissions data tool that show global trends.

The energy sector is responsible for almost three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions. In the energy sector, the top three end-use activities are road transportation, residential buildings, and commercial buildings.

"Since 1990, three sectors stand out as the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions: Industrial processes grew by 174%, transportation (a subsector of energy) by 71%, and manufacturing and construction (also a subsector of energy) by 55%," note Ge and Friedrich.

They also report that ten countries emit 68 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, with China topping the list at 26 percent. In addition, carbon dioxide makes up almost three-quarters of emissions.

Ge and Friedrich say that cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions needs to happen around the world. "The largest emissions sources, like the energy sector, are good places to start. But to fully tackle the climate crisis, we will need deep reductions across all sectors, big and small."

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