Data InsightsThere are huge inequalities in global CO2 emissions
May 24, 2024Hannah Ritchie

There are huge inequalities in global CO2 emissions

Grouped bar chart showing each income group's share of global co2 emissions and population.

Richer people tend to have a higher carbon footprint. They consume more energy, and since much of it still comes from fossil fuels, they have much higher carbon emissions than those on lower incomes.

This inequality is clear when we examine countries' contributions by income level. The chart above shows the four World Bank income groups’ share of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and population, using data from the Global Carbon Project. The groups are based on the average income at the country level — they don’t account for differences between people’s incomes within each country.

High-income countries contribute more than twice their share of the global population: they are home to just 15% of people but emit 34% of global emissions. Low-income countries are home to 9% of the global population but emit less than 1% of total emissions.

This gap increases by several percentage points when we account for emissions embedded in traded goods.

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