Are there studies showing the relative positions carbon footprints of various countries? which one produce how much greenhouse gases?

I'm interested in comparing developing and developed countries and continents, and prefer university studies wherever possible.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You could try to get data on CO2 emissions by country, but it's a bit tricky if a product is made in country A and then exported to country B, should the CO2 emissions be credited to A or B? $\endgroup$
    – S Vilcans
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ @indigochild There isn't any of that in this question. This is just looking at a comparison between relative carbon footprints over developed/developing countries. What policies are we looking at? Is this about the economics of the countries evaluated? $\endgroup$
    – Drunk Cynic
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 20:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ this is not a question about political processes. I will migrate it to earth science.SE $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 9:38

3 Answers 3


The answer is no.

The search for a single and simple measure for each country’s contribution to global warming is unlikely to succeed, new research has warned.

The question of how to fairly quantify national contributions to global warming historically, and inform future policy on sharing the burden of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, has long been part of international discussions on global warming.

Researchers from the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research Oslo (CICERO) and the University of Oxford, UK, assessed if finding an answer to this question was possible or likely.

Dr Steffen Kallbekken, from CICERO, said: “There are vast differences in income, population, resources, technologies and capacity across countries. Because of this, the idea of distributive fairness has played a crucial role in the international climate policy debate.

“However, trying to find a single common formula for policymakers to decide the distribution of national efforts in a climate agreement was never likely to succeed.

“Although it references equality principles, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2016 Paris Agreement tacitly recognises this fact, as in practice the differentiation is left to each country to decide for itself.”

Dr Jan Fuglestvedt said: “Our results indicate there is no simple and single correct answer to the question of how much each country has contributed to global warming. There are too many fundamental value-related and ethical questions remaining, to which it is impossible to find a single answer.

“A more useful approach would be for scientific studies to present not just one set of calculated contributions – based on some of many choices – instead present a spectrum of results showing how the contributions vary according to a broad set of choices.”

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ The above inconclusiveness sounds more like a "let's not point fingers here" bit of hypocrisy than an answer. Since gas emissions are somewhat measurable, (as are their causes), a researcher's reluctance to pick a favorite metric doesn't seem to constitute a rigorous impossibility/undecidability proof. Also the OP didn't specify just one metric. $\endgroup$
    – agc
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 16:01
  • $\begingroup$ Agc, above, makes a good point. I'll add that it's also easy to measure what part of a country's carbon footprint has been exported. For example, Norway has a low carbon footprint, but only if you exclude it's petroleum exports. It has, effectively exported the carbon cost of its low-carbon lifestyle to countries that buy its oil. The same can be said of a developed country that buys products made in high-footprint countries; they too have effectively exported their high-carbon footprint. Hence the inherent unfairness of looking at carbon footprints without looking at the underlying drivers. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 15:38

which [countries] produce how much greenhouse gases?

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which began with the Rio Convention (1992) and was updated by the Kyoto Protocol (1997) and the Paris Agreement (2016), requires that all signatory parties (i.e., countries) submit annual reports of their GHG emissions. See Annex I Greenhouse Gas Inventories for more info.

You can download or plot this data using this UNFCCC tool.

Are there studies showing the relative positions carbon footprints of various countries?

As the other answers indicate, however, the carbon footprint is much more complicated that simply these direct GHG emissions. It involves reassigning portions of one country's direct emissions to another country based on, say, some notion of who is ultimately responsible for the demand for that emission. There is currently no agreed method for making that calculation.


You start with IPCC reports (http://www.ipcc.ch/) (they are extensive, and maybe (surely) there is something about global warming variations between countries.

You can also use google and in particular the "Google Scholar" search to find out about University research, most major university have climate research going on. for example (one of many), one starting point.

Stanford: http://solar-center.stanford.edu/sun-on-earth/glob-warm.html

Since there are at least hundreds of university that does global warming research it will be hard to help you single out for you.

Good luck with that.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.