Quick Answer 🔍
Climate change is becoming a widespread discussion globally and everybody wants to know how much CO2 do humans produce per year.
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that is a significant contributor to global warming.
While the latter is only among the many aspects of climate change, it is one of its most evident manifestations known today.
Not known to many, we humans produce and consume carbon dioxide in almost everything we do.
From breathing to cooking up to taking transportation and heating our houses, this gas is part of everyone’s lives.
This is exactly why we produce an exorbitant amount of CO2 every year.
How Much CO2 Do Humans Produce per Year?
Let’s not keep the answer floating in the air and answer how much CO2 do humans produce per year.
Studies show humans collectively produce between 35 billion and 40 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.
This number has been on the rise since the onset of the Industrial Revolution in the 1750s.
The period introduced the use of machines and the factory system, which then gave rise to the burning of fossil fuels and released an alarming rate of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The Industrial Revolution brought about economic expansion, and later to consumerism which triggered an increase in individual carbon footprint.
CO2 Emissions During the Pandemic
Country-wide lockdowns led to a temporary stop on economic activities. This reduced carbon emission globally, although not at a rate experts have expected.
In 2020, CO2 emissions decreased by 6.4% which is equivalent to a 2.3 billion tonne cut from its normal rate.
Such a number is comparable to twice of Japan’s annual carbon dioxide emission.
The United States, one of the world’s biggest CO2 emitters, reported having a 13% or a 600 million tonne decline in its overall CO2 production during the year.
On the other hand, climate scientists remain pessimistic about the decrease.
An article from nature.com asserts that world emissions need to dip by 7.6% per year in the next 10 years to prevent the global average surface temperature from warming by more than 1.5 degrees Celcius from the pre-1750s period.
Per Capita CO2 Emissions
Humans produce carbon dioxide from almost everything we do.
An article from Science Daily shows that each of us produces 2 tonnes of CO2 annually just by consuming our food and excreting it afterward.
According to Statista, the global average for per capita CO2 emission is 4.47 metric tonnes.
But surveys suggest many highly-developed nations significantly go beyond this band, with Saudi Arabia and the United States leading the line.
Take a look at this data detailing the world’s biggest CO2 emitters per capita, ranked by country, as of March 2021.
- Saudi Arabia – the country’s CO2 emission stands at 17.6 metric tons per member of the population
- United States – has tied with the world’s biggest oil-producing country at the top spot. Americans’ CO2 emission stands at 17.6 metric tons per member of the population
- Canada – the country’s CO2 emission stands at 15.7 metric tons per member of the population
- Australia – the country’s CO2 emission stands at 14.9 metric tons per member of the population
- South Korea – the country’s CO2 emission stands at 13.3 metric tons per member of the population
- Japan – the country’s CO2 emission stands at 10.4 metric tons per member of the population
- Germany – has tied with Japan, with a per capita CO2 emission standing at 10.4 metric tons
- Russia – is another oil-producing nation and the second OPEC+ member to make the list. The country’s CO2 emission stands at 9.8 metric tons per member of the population
- Iran – the country’s CO2 emission stands at 8.3 metric tons per member of the population
- United Kingdom – the country’s CO2 emission stands at 8.1 metric tons per member of the population
Top CO2 Emitters by Country
As seen in the data above, the world’s biggest oil-producing countries are among the biggest carbon dioxide emitters per capita.
Studies show low emission and poverty-ridden countries will receive the biggest hit from climate change effects.
On the other hand, it is not only fossil fuels that are contributing to the rise of CO2 emissions.
Land use change, excessive individual consumption, growing population, and cement production, among others, also make up the list.
Take a look at the biggest CO2 emitters and their percentage share of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions in 2021.
- China – the world’s most populated country and the second biggest economy globally has produced 28% of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions in 2021
- United States – the world’s biggest economy has produced 15% of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions in 2021
- India – the second most populated country has produced 7% of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions in 2021
- Russia – the country has produced 5% of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions in 2021
- Japan – the country has produced 3% of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions in 2021
- Indonesia, South Korea, Canada, Saudia Arabia, Iran, and Germany – each of these countries produced 2% of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions in 2021
- Australia, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Poland, and Turkey – each of these countries produced 1% of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions in 2021
- The rest of the world – all the remaining countries in the world that did not make the list above contributed only 28% of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions in 2021
Carbon Dioxide from Breathing
Humans are natural CO2 producers. When breathing, we produce a significant amount of carbon dioxide from our bodies which is absorbed by plants and the oceans.
An average person exhales 500 liters of carbon dioxide in a span of 24 hours. This may not look a lot on the onset, but wait until you multiply it by the world’s population which currently stands at 7.7 billion.
Human breathing collectively creates 2.5 million to 3.0 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year by simply puffing air out of our lungs.
Humans’ carbon dioxide emission has been on the rise since the rise of the Industrial Revolution.
Today, CO2 is the most prominent greenhouse gas that contributes to the warming of the planet.
Aside from the burning of fossil fuels, excessive human consumption, cement production, and land conversion drive CO2 levels to a record high.
Ironically, low-emission countries are turning out to be the biggest recipients of the negative climate change impacts.
Now that you know about it, what are the steps you are taking next? Only you can decide.
Thanks for reading our article on how much CO2 do humans produce per year.