Trends in global CO2 emissions: 2015 report

After a decade of annual increases of 4%, on average, and two years (2012 and 2013) of slowing down to about 1%, the growth in global CO2 emissions almost stalled, increasing by only 0.5% in 2014 compared to 2013, while the world’s economy grew by 3%. In that year, emissions from fossil-fuel combustion and industrial processes totalled 35.7 billion tonnes CO2. China and the United States increased their emissions by 0.9%. In the European Union, CO2 emissions decreased by an unprecedented 5.4%, while India’s emissions continued to increase strongly, by 7.8%.

These are results of the joint JRC/PBL Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) version 4.3, based on recent IEA statistics and preliminary estimates based on the latest BP statistics, including the recent revision of coal statistics in China. The report also assesses and largely dismisses the conclusions of a recent paper in Nature on China’s CO2 emissions, which claimed that international inventories such as EDGAR are far too high.

China largest emitter, but United States tops per capita emissions

China’s CO2 emissions currently are twice as high as those in the United States, exactly 10 years after its emissions equalled those of the United States. However, per capita emissions in the United States are twice as high as those of both China and the European Union. China’s high ranking is mainly caused by the sheer size of its population and economy and the fact that its energy mix is strongly reliant on coal.

Structural changes in global CO2 emission trends still uncertain

On a global scale, the slowdown in emission growth of the last three years can largely be explained by the changes in China's economy and the associated energy consumption. However, it is uncertain whether these changes also reflect structural changes in the wider global economy, global energy efficiency improvements and in the energy mix of other key world players, such the United States, EU-28, India and Russia, as well as the main trend in other countries.


J.G.J. Olivier, G. Janssens-Maenhout, M. Muntean, J.A.H.W. Peters


Publication title
Trends in global CO2 emissions: 2015 report
Publication date
25 November 2015
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