Trends in Global CO2 and Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions; 2020 Report

Global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have increased, on average, by 1.1% per year, from 2012 to 2019, which is a markedly lower growth rate than those seen in the first decade of this century (2.6%, on average). In 2019, the increased in global greenhouse gas emissions was 1.1%, half the increase in 2018, reaching 52.4 gigatonnes in CO2 equivalent (GtCO2 eq), excluding land-use change. This is the only report that provides estimations of all recent global greenhouse gas emissions (not only CO2).

Growth of 1.1% in global greenhouse gas emissions in 2019

In 2019, the growth in global GHG emissions continued at a rate of 1.1%, reaching 52.4 GtCO2 eq. The increase in global GHG emissions was mainly due to a 0.9% increase in global fossil CO2 emissions in 2019, after a 2.4% increase in 2018. In 2019, global emissions of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) increased by 1.3% and 0.8%, respectively. The emissions of fluorinated gases (so-called F-gases) continued to grow by an estimated 3.8% in 2019. Non-CO2 emissions continued to grow at rates similar to those in 2017 and 2018.

With about 73% in fossil CO2 and 19% in methane, these emissions form the lion’s share of global greenhouse gas emissions (excluding those from land-use change), leaving the other greenhouse gas shares of 5% in N2O and 3% in F-gases.

Greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 were about 59% higher than in 1990 and 44% higher than in 2000. The 2019 global greenhouse gas emissions amounted to 57.4 GtCO2 eq when including the — very uncertain — emissions from land-use change (estimated at 5.0 GtCO2 eq).

Emissions increased in 2019 in the three largest emitting  countries and decreased in the EU, United States and Japan

The six largest emitters of greenhouse gases, together accounting for 62%, globally, are China (27%), the United States (13%), the European Union (EU-28) (8%), India (7%), the Russian Federation (5%) and Japan (3%). In 2019, a decrease in emissions was shown (in order of largest absolute change) in the European Union (-3.0%), the United States (-1.7%) and Japan (-1.2%), whereas emissions increased in China (+3.1%), India (+1.4%) and the Russian Federation (+0.9%).


The emissions were calculated based on the EDGAR database version v5.0 for 1970–2015; for CO2 from the use of fossil fuel and carbonates, they were mainly based on IEA energy statistics, and for other gases, we used several international statistics, including the FAO agricultural statistics. A fast-track method was applied to estimate the 2016–2019 trend, mainly using international activity statistics from various sources.

For CH4, N2O and the F-gases, the report uses the Global Warming Potential (GWP) metric from the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the IPCC (2007) with a the time horizon of 100 years. In the AR4 the GWPs of CH4 and N2O are 25 and 298, respectively.


PBL Authors
Jos Olivier Jeroen Peters


Publication title
Trends in Global CO2 and Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions; 2020 Report
Publication date
21 December 2020
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