COP26, the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference, is held from 31 October to 12 November 2021 hosted in Glasgow, United Kingdom. Having been postponed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, pressure has been mounting to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Global carbon dioxide emissions through humankind have been rising steadily since the 19th century. But it was the second half of the 20th century that saw annual emissions accelerate exponentially. From below 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year in the middle of the 20th century, total tripled to 15 billion in 1970, reached 30 billion in 2005 and crossed the 35 billion threshold in the middle of the past decade, as documented by the Global Carbon Project. In 2015 the atmospheric CO₂ concentration crossed the 400 parts per million (ppm) threshold, unprecedented in the history of modern humans on this planet. This map animation gives an overview of the rise of carbon dioxide emissions in this most dynamic period between 1970 and 2016, showing the growth in emissions globally as the map keeps growing in size, and also showing the changing shares of countries in contributing to the increase in emissions:
The animation shows each map proportional to the total amount of carbon dioxide emissions per year, growing in size with the growing amount of emissions. Each country is also proportional to its total emissions in that year. The emissions documented here show the countries where they occur, so that major producers for the global markets (especially China) keep growing considerably in that time period as they become integral part of the globalised markets and major producers for the consuming countries in the wealthy world, mostly Europe and North America.
The time series is based on data published in the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research by the European Commissions Joint Research Centre, an independent, global database of anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollution on Earth.
This resource was realised with support from the Royal Geographical Society’s Schools Team. A selection of cartograms from this animation will soon be added to our map archive where the underlying data will then also be made available.
Some maps related to carbon emissions can already be found in our map repository:
We have also previously written about climate change and carbon emissions in our blog: