The Azimuth Project
Carbon emissions (Rev #1, changes)

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Carbon versus carbon dioxide

One needs to be careful, because some people talk about carbon while others talk about carbon dioxide. When you burn a ton of carbon you get about 3.67 tons of carbon dioxide. Neglecting this can cause big mistakes:

• Joe Romm, The biggest source of mistakes: carbon versus carbon dioxide. A factor of 3.67 makes a big difference when discussing climate.

Just remember: C has atomic mass 12, O has atomic mass 16, so CO2 has atomic mass 12+16+16=44, so a molecule of carbon dioxide is

44/12=3.666...44/12 = 3.666...

times as heavy as the atom of carbon that was burned to form it.

2007 UN data

This chart lists the carbon dioxide emissions of countries worldwide:

This chart includes only CO2 emitted by fossil fuel burning and cement manufacture, not deforestation, change in land use, etc. Methane and other greenhouse gases are not included. Currently the list is based on data from 2007, taken from this report:

  • United Nations Statistics Division, Millennium Development Goals indicators: Carbon dioxide emissions (CO2), thousand metric tonnes of CO2 (collected by CDIAC).

The entire world is listed as having emitted 29.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide in 2007. This corresponds to 8 gigatons of carbon. The top five countries are:

countrygigatons of CO2 in 2007percentage
United States5.8419.9%

2008 IEA data

On 6 October 2010, the International Energy Agency released its own data set (calculated using slightly different methods than CDIAC) for 2008 emissions that listed about 140 countries:

  • CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion - Highlights, International Energy Agency website, retrieved 2010-10-06.