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Global Carbon Budget
Summary Highlights

coal mine

Emissions from fossil fuels and industry

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel burning and cement production did not increase in 2015, with a total of 9.9±0.5 GtC (36.3 GtCO2) emitted to the atmosphere. Emissions from the past two years were the highest in human history and 60% higher than in 1990. In 2015, coal burning was responsible for 41% of the total emissions, oil 34%, gas 19%, cement 6%, and gas flaring 1%. Emissions are projected to increase by 0.2% in 2015 with a range of -1.0% to +1.8%.

world showing Asia

Regional fossil fuel emissions

In 2015, global CO2 emissions were dominated by emissions from China (29%), the USA (15%), the EU (28 member states; 10%) and India (6%). Growth rates of these countries from 2014 to 2015 were -0.7% for China, -2.6% for the USA, 1.4% for the EU28, and 5.2% for India. The per-capita CO2 emissions in 2014 were 1.3 tonnes of carbon person-1yr-1 (4.9 tCO2) for the globe, 4.5 (16.8 tCO2) for the USA, 2.0 (7.1 tCO2) for China, 1.9 (7.0 tCO2) for the EU28, and 0.5 (1.7 tCO2) for India.

cargo ship

Consumption-based fossil fuel emissions

Consumption-based emissions allocate emissions to where goods and services are consumed, not where they are produced and emissions released. Transfers of emissions embodied in trade from non-Annex B countries (developing and emerging economies) to Annex B countries (industrialized countries) grew at about 19% yr-1 between 1990 and 2007, but have since declined at about 4% yr-1.

ocean waves

Emissions from land use change

CO2 emissions from deforestation and other land-use change were 1.0±0.5 GtC (3.3±1.8 GtCO2) on average during 2006-2015, accounting for about 10% of all emissions from human activity (fossil fuel, cement, land use change). Emissions in 2015 were 1.3 GtC, significantly above the decadal average due to increased fires at the deforestation frontiers, particularly in Southeast Asia, and driven by dry conditions brought by a strong El Niño in 2015-16.


Emission pathways

Current trajectories of fossil fuel emissions are moving away from the most carbon intensive emission scenarios used in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The current trajectory is consistently with the Nationally Determined Commitments of the Paris agreement to 2030, but it is inconsistent with the long-term goal of stabilizing the climate system below 2°C above pre-industrial level.

ocean waves

CO2 removals by natural sinks

Of the total emissions from human activities during the period 2006-2015, about 56% accumulated in the atmosphere, 27% in the ocean and 17% on land. During this period, the size of the natural sinks has grown in response to the increasing emissions, though year-to-year variability of that growth is large. The 2015 land sink estimate was a significantly low one in the 60-year record studied.

Sky & clouds

Atmospheric CO2

The annual growth rate of atmospheric CO2 was 6.3±0.2 GtC in 2015, corresponding to an increase of 2.97±0.09 parts per million in the atmospheric concentration. This growth is well above the 2006-2015 average of 4.5±0.1 GtC yr-1 and the result of the lower land sink during El Niño. The global atmospheric CO2 concentration reached 399.4±0.10 ppm on average over 2015 and have continued to increase in 2016.


Cumulative Carbon Emissions

The cumulative carbon emissions are the sum of the total CO2 emitted during a given period of time. Total cumulative emissions from 1870 to 2015 were 410±20 GtC (1502 GtCO2) from fossil fuels and cement, and 145±50 GtC (531 GtCO2) from land use change. The total of 555±55 GtC was partitioned among the atmosphere (235±5 GtC), ocean (160±20 GtC), and the land (160±60 GtC).