Two countries, the United States and China, over a 180 years period of time, are responsible for one-third of the global CO2 emission. This is shown in an analysis of the research community institution (PBL), advisory firm Ecofys and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Committee.
Over the past years, researchers have often struggled with quantifying the contribution of countries to climate change. In the report, the researchers combined several different datasets on historical and forecasted CO2 emissions to come to an accurate estimate on CO2 emission per country*.
The analysis shows that two countries, US and China, by the end of 2030 make up for one-third (32%) of the total CO2 emission during the last 180 years.
With a total CO2 emission of MtCO2eq, Europe is the second largest polluter of the planet, although its number represents the sum of all European countries. Key difference between China and the two other large polluters, the U.S and Europe, is the volume of emission of greenhouse gas expected in the period 2010 - 2030. In those 20 years China will expectedly spit two times as much carbon dioxide as the US and Europe did in 40 years.
* An overview of the data sets used:
1850 - 1970: MATCH emissions data
1970 - 2010: actual greenhouse gas emissions supplemented with the EDGAR data set
2010 - 2030: business-as-usual scenario from the OECD Environmental Outlook to 2030