Just The Facts

Out of Proportion: US Carbon Emissions

How does the U.S. CO2 output compare to its population share?


  • The US emits 14% of the world’s carbon dioxide.
  • At 16.1 tons, America's average carbon emissions per person are more than three times the global average of 4.9 tons.

1. The United States emits 14% of the world’s carbon dioxide.

2. That is three times its 4.4% share of the world population.

3. In their aggregate, the United States’ CO2 emissions are in line with the country’s 15% share of the global economy (when measured on a PPP basis).

4. However, on a per person basis, the average American’s carbon emissions – at 16.1 tons — are more than three times the global average of 4.9 tons.

5. Among large developed countries, only Australia’s per capita emissions remain higher.

6. In the past, the United States accounted for an even larger share of CO2 emissions overall – 23% as recently as 2005.

7. The net decline in total U.S. emissions results from decommissioning the country’s oldest, most carbon-intensive power plants, increasing auto fuel efficiency standards (and driving less), as well as substituting cleaner-burning natural gas for coal.

Sources: Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research, The Globalist Research Center

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