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Global overview of greenhouse gases | United States EPA

Global overview of greenhouse gases |  United States EPA


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Global emissions and removals by gas

Globally, the main greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are:

Carbon dioxide (CO2): The use of fossil fuels is the main source of CO2. CO2 can also be emitted from the landscape through deforestation, land clearing for agriculture or development, and land degradation. Likewise, land management can also remove additional CO2 from the atmosphere through reforestation, improving soil health, and other activities. Methane (CH4): Agricultural activities, waste management, energy production and use, and biomass combustion all contribute to CH4 emissions. Nitrous oxide (N2O): Agricultural activities, such as fertilizer use, are the main source of N2O emissions. Chemical production and the burning of fossil fuels also generate N2O. Fluorinated gases (F gases): Industrial processes, refrigeration, and the use of a variety of consumer products contribute to emissions of F gases, which include hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and hexafluoride. sulfur (SF6).

Other compounds in the atmosphere, including solid and liquid aerosols and other greenhouse gases, such as water vapor and ground-level ozone, can also impact the climate. Learn more about these compounds and climate change on our Climate Change Basics page.

Source: IPCC data (2022); Based on 2019 global emissions, details on sectors and individual contributing sources can be found in the Working Group III contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Mitigation of climate change, chapter 2. Global emissions by economy. Sector

Global greenhouse gas emissions can also be broken down by the economic activities that lead to their release into the atmosphere.[1]

Source: IPCC data (2022); Based on 2019 global emissions, details on sectors and individual contributing sources can be found in the Working Group III contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Mitigation of climate change, chapter 2. Production of electricity and heat. (34% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2019): The burning of coal, natural gas and oil to produce electricity and heat is the largest source of global greenhouse gas emissions. tight. Industry (24% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2019): Greenhouse gas emissions from industry mainly relate to fossil fuels burned on-site in installations for energy purposes. This sector also includes emissions from chemical, metallurgical and mineral processing processes not associated with energy consumption and emissions from waste management activities. (Note: Emissions from industrial electricity use are excluded and are instead covered in the electricity and heat generation sector.) Agriculture, forestry and other land uses (22% of global carbon emissions greenhouse gas in 2019): greenhouse gas emissions from this sector come mainly from agriculture (crops and livestock) and deforestation. This estimate does not include the CO2 that ecosystems remove from the atmosphere by sequestering carbon (e.g. in biomass, soils).[2]
Transport (15% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2019): greenhouse gas emissions from this sector mainly concern fossil fuels burned for road, rail, air and maritime transport. Almost all (95%) of the energy used for transportation worldwide comes from petroleum-based fuels, primarily gasoline and diesel.[3]
Buildings (6% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2019): Greenhouse gas emissions from this sector come from on-site energy production and the burning of fuels to heat buildings or cook in the houses. Note: Emissions from this sector are 16% when electricity consumption in buildings is included in this sector rather than the energy sector.

Note on emissions sector categories.

Global emissions trends Source: IPCC data (2022); Based on 2019 global emissions, details on sectors and individual contributing sources can be found in the Working Group III contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Mitigation Climate Change, Chapter 2. Global CO2 emissions from all sectors have increased significantly since 1850. The majority of this increase results from increased fossil fuel consumption and industrial emissions. Agriculture, deforestation and other land use changes are the second largest contributors.[1]

Emissions of greenhouse gases other than CO2 (CH4, N2O and F gas) have also increased significantly since 1850.

Globally, greenhouse gas emissions continued to increase across all sectors and subsectors, most rapidly in the transport and industrial sectors. While the emissions trend continues to increase, annual greenhouse gas growth by sector slowed between 2010 and 2019, compared to the period 2000-2009, for energy and industry, but remained at almost stable for transport. The AFOLU trend remains more uncertain, due to the multitude of factors that affect emissions and removals related to land use, land-use change and forestry. Greenhouse gas emissions from the industrial, building and transport sectors are driven by increasing demand for construction materials and manufactured products, increasing floor space per capita, increasing energy consumption of buildings, travel distances and the size and weight of vehicles.

To learn more about past and projected global emissions of non-CO2 gases, please see the EPA report, Global Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gas Emission Projections & Mitigation Potential: 2015-2050. For more information on mitigation strategies specifically in the U.S. forestry and agricultural sectors, refer to the latest Climate Economic Analysis report on Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Potential in Forestry and agriculture in the United States.

Emissions by country Source: Climate Watch data; Historical GHG emissions from Climate Watch (1990-2020). 2023. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute. Available online at:

In 2020, the top ten emitters of greenhouse gases were China, the United States, India, the European Union, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, Japan, Iran and Canada . These data include emissions of CO2, CH4, N2O and fluorinated gases from energy, agriculture, forestry and land-use change, industry and waste. Together, these top ten countries account for around 67% of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2020.

Emissions and sinks from land use changes are not included in these estimates. However, changes in land use can be significant: estimates indicate that net global greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, forestry and other land uses amounted to about 12 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent,[2] or approximately 21% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.[3] In regions like the United States and Europe, land use changes associated with human activities have the net effect of absorbing CO2, partly offsetting emissions from deforestation in other regions.

The references

1. IPCC (2022), Emissions Trends and Drivers. In IPCC, 2022: Climate Change 2022: Climate Change Mitigation. Contribution of Working Group III to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK and New York, NY, USA. doi: 10.1017/9781009157926.004

2. Jia, G., E. Shevliakova, P. Artaxo, N. De Noblet-Ducoudr, R. Houghton, J. House, K. Kitajima, C. Lennard, A. Popp, A. Sirin, R. Sukumar, L. Verchot, 2019: Earth-climate interactions. In: Climate change and land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems [P.R. Shukla, J. Skea, E. Calvo Buendia, V. Masson-Delmotte, H.-O. Prtner, D.C. Roberts, P. Zhai, R. Slade, S. Connors, R. van Diemen, M. Ferrat, E. Haughey, S. Luz, S. Neogi, M. Pathak, J. Petzold, J. Portugal Pereira, P. Vyas, E. Huntley, K. Kissick, M, Belkacemi, J. Malley, (eds.)].

3. US Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook 2021, (February 2021),

Note on emissions sector categories:

The global emissions estimates described on this page come from the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In this report, some sector categories are defined differently than how they are defined on the Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions page of this website. Transportation, industry, agriculture, land use planning, and forestry are four global emissions sectors that roughly match U.S. sectors. Energy supply, commercial and residential buildings, and waste and wastewater are classified slightly differently. For example, the IPCC energy supply sector for global emissions encompasses the burning of fossil fuels for heat and energy across all sectors. In contrast, the discussion of U.S. sources tracks emissions from electric power separately and attributes on-site emissions for heat and power to their respective sectors (i.e., emissions from gas or of fuel oil burned in furnaces to heat buildings are attributed to the residential and commercial sector). ). The IPCC has defined waste and wastewater as a separate sector, while on the Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions page, waste and wastewater emissions are attributed to the commercial and residential sector.




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