Trends in Global CO2 and Total Greenhouse Gas emissions. Summary of the 2019 Report

Global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have increased at an annual rate of 1.5%, over the last decade, with only a slight slowdown from 2014 to 2016. In 2018, the growth in global greenhouse gas emissions resumed at an annual rate of 2.0%, reaching 51.8 gigatonnes in CO2 equivalent (GtCO2 eq) excluding land-use change and 55.6 GtCO2 eq including land-use change

Growth in global greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 highest since 2011

Greenhouse gas emission growth was 2.0% in 2018 and there is no sign of any of these emissions peaking, as yet. The increase in global greenhouse gas emissions was mainly due to fossil CO2 emissions, which increased by 2.0% in 2018. Global emissions of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) increased by 1.8% and 0.8%, respectively. For 2018, emissions of fluorinated gases (so-called F-gases) continued to grow by an estimated 5.9%.

With about 72% for fossil CO2 and 19% for methane, these emissions form the lion’s share of global greenhouse gas emissions (excluding those from land-use change). The other greenhouse gases are N2O (6% share) and F-gases (3% share); these emissions continued to grow at rates similar to those in 2016 and 2017.

Present greenhouse gas emissions are about 57% higher than in 1990 and 43% higher than in 2000. In 2018, global greenhouse gas emissions were 55.6 GtCO2 eq when including — the very uncertain— land-use-change emissions (estimated at 3.8 GtCO2 eq).

Increase in greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 in the four largest emitting countries

The six largest emitters of greenhouse gas, together accounting for 62%, globally, are China (26%), the United States (13%), the European Union (more than 8%), India (7%), the Russian Federation (5%) and Japan (almost 3%). In 2018, a real increase in greenhouse gas emissions was shown in four of these countries: China (+1.9%), India (+5.5%), the United States (+2.7%) and the Russian Federation (+5.1%), whereas emissions decreased in the European Union (-1.5%) and Japan (-1.2%).

Uncertainty much larger for non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions than for CO2 emissions

The estimated uncertainty range is much larger for non-CO2 emissions than for CO2 emissions. However, for total global greenhouse gas emissions, the uncertainty is estimated at 10%, mainly because this is the uncertainty range for CO2 emissions, which account for three quarters of total global greenhouse gas emissions.


PBL Authors
Jos Olivier Jeroen Peters


Publication title
Trends in Global CO2 and Total Greenhouse Gas emissions. Summary of the 2019 Report
Publication date
4 December 2019
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