Who emits CO2?

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Almost all of us (perhaps 100% of the alphabetic population) know that Climate Change is caused by an increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and that this is largely caused by the combustion of fossil sources (coal, oil, gas)... But What are the sectors which “emit” more? What the countries? Let's see ... but first ....

Why concentration is not emission ....
Every year, every day, every second, carbon dioxide particles are pushed into the atmosphere. If all the carbon dioxide emitted in a year came out of the atmosphere (through absorption from oceans and forests), CO2 emissions would cause no problem. The problem lies in the fact that if emissions go up and the sources of absorption go down, then part of the carbon dioxide emitted accumulates in the atmosphere. This is why CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is constantly monitored.
Countless studies have shown that over thousands of years an increase in CO2 concentration has been linked to an increase in global temperature and many scientists think that once the threshold of 500 particles per million (ppm) is reached, the atmosphere will become extremely unstable and very hostile to life.
John Sterman, professor of MIT, wanted to make it clear to his students the difference between emissions and CO2 concentration. He depicted the atmosphere as a giant bathtub with a tap (representative of CO2 emissions) and a drain hole (sources of CO2 absorption). If the amount of water (emissions) that comes out of the tap is greater than that coming out of the hole, the tank will fill up. The most recent data on CO2 concentrations at the Mauna Loa observatory (the site chosen by Charles D. Keeling, the researcher who started this kind of study) shows a steady increase (about 2.7 ppm per year) in the concentration. Currently, we are around 410 ppm, and it would reach 500 ppm within 2050 if the rate of growth remains the current one (of 2.7 per year).
CO2 concentration in the atmosphere (weekly data in ppm)
Fonte: elaborazione LTEconomy su dati ESRL-NOAA
How much of Greenhouse Gas is made up by CO2 emissions
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) answered this question. Let’s have a look at the pie below: 76%, is the percentage of greenhouse gas emissions made up by carbon dioxide, of which 65% by fossil fuels and industrial processes and 11% by deforestation and land use for agricultural or construction purposes. 16% are methane emissions caused by agricultural activities, waste management, and energy consumption. Nitric oxide accounts for 6%, mainly due to the use of fertilizers in agriculture. The remaining 2% are fluorine gases.
Global greenhouse gas emissions
Data source: IPCC
And now let's see ... what are the most polluting sectors?
The IPCC also gave an answer to this question. First we find electricity and heating making up 25% of greenhouse gas emissions (with data a bit dated, to 2010, but still respectful of reality). Agriculture deforestation and other land use methods are the second source of emissions (contributing 24%). Third is the Industry sector (21%), whose emissions are mainly caused by energy consumption, but also by processes of chemical, metallurgical and mineral transformation, not associated with energy consumption. The transport sector produces 14% of the emissions. 6% of emissions are caused by the use of energy (excluding electricity) to heat and cook in buildings. Finally, 10% is attributed to the energy sector for other causes that are not directly related to energy production.
Greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector
Fonte dati: IPCC
…And what are the countries?
As repeatedly stated by the Italian climatologist Luca Mercalli (see the interview on LTEconomy), the fact that Climate Change exists and that it is caused by humankind has been known for over 30 years. And despite this and despite the several and repeated international agreements following Rio (1992), little has been done to reduce CO2 emissions. The following chart is the irrefutable proof. In 1960 global CO2 emissions amounted to 9.4 billion tons; the latest data (2014) show a figure of 36.1 billion, almost 4 times higher than the value of 1960, 2 and a half times (+ 144.4%) the figure of 1970. China and the United States alone emit more than 40% of total emissions, followed by India (6.2%), Japan (3.4%) and Germany (2%). The strong economic development of China and India after 2000 has led to a strong increase in emissions which, compared to 1970, have increased by more than 10 times.
Global carbon dioxide emissions (in billions of tons)
Source: LTEconomy elaboration on World Bank data
Global carbon dioxide emissions (countries breakdown)
Source: LTEconomy elaboration on World Bank data
Carbon dioxide emissions (in millions of tons)
Source: LTEconomy elaboration on World Bank data
Carbon dioxide emissions (tons per capita)
Source: LTEconomy elaboration on World Bank data
The world runs, runs ... we are all committed to increasing production and consumption and we do it within an energy paradigm (still based mainly on fossil sources) and an economic paradigm (still predominantly linear) that cause enormous damage to the planet. It is necessary to establish a completely new culture, a long-term culture that makes man a rational being and able to take care of his own planet. Data is clear: at these rate the concentration of CO2 will reach the fateful 500 ppm threshold and willy-nilly we should adapt to a climate system less congenial to our existence. Avoiding all this is still possible, but it is urgent to establish long-term thinking at all levels and in all sectors and abandon the short-sighted model of short-term economic growth that has accompanied us over the past few decades.
Read more on Long Term economy, the unique model able to create a real sustainable economy.


Dario Ruggiero,
LTEconomy, 19 April 2018
Dario Ruggiero, (febbraio 2018), "CO2 CONCENTRATION IN THE ATMOSPHERE: will we reach the point of no return by 2070?"
Dario Ruggiero, (february 2018),"GLOBAL TEMPERATURE: anomalies go on - December 2017, the third highest December temperature in the 138-year record" 
Dario Ruggiero, (february 2018), "ARCTIC MELTING: in December, Arctic sea ice extent 1,000,000 square kilometres below the 1981-2010 average"
Dario Ruggiero, (february 2018), "Global Risk Report 2018: environmental and technological risks on the lead"
Dario Ruggiero, (05 settembre 2017), "Let’s struggle for a new system: the social platform is to be born"
Emanuele Bompan, (agosto 2017), Interview  with Kate Raworth: Doughnut Economy
Dario Ruggiero, (June2017), "An untroduction to Doughnut Economics, Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist", 
"What Is Long Term Economy", LTEconomy
Dario Ruggiero (curated by), (01 September 2017), Interview with David Lin (Research Director at the Global Footprint Network), "How to move back the Overshoot Day",


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