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Global Carbon Budget
Summary Highlights

coal mine

Emissions from fossil fuels and industry

Global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry have increased every decade from an average of 3.1±0.2 GtC yr-1 (11.4 GtCO2) in the 1960s to an average of 9.4±0.5 yr-1 during 2008-2017 (34.4 GtCO2). Emissions in 2017 were 9.9±0.5 (36.2 GtCO2) with a share of coal (40%), oil (35%), gas (20%), cement (4%), and flaring (1%). Global emissions in 2018 are projected to increase by more than 2% (+1.8% to +3.7%) after three years of almost no growth, reaching 10.1±0.5 GtC (37.1 GtCO2), a new record high.

world showing Asia

Regional fossil fuel emissions

In 2017, global CO2 emissions were dominated by emissions from China (27%), the USA (15%), the EU (28 member states; 10%) and India (7%). Growth rates of these countries from 2016 to 2017 were +1.7% for China, -0.5% for the USA, 1.4% for the EU28, and 4.0% for India. The per-capita CO2 emissions in 2017were 4.8 tCO2 tonnes of carbon person-1yr-1 for the globe, 16.2 tCO2 for the USA, 7.0 tCO2 for China, 7.1 tCO2 for the EU28, and 1.8 tCO2 for India.
The 2018 growth rate projections are +4.7% (+2.0 to +7.4%) for China, +2.5% (+0.5 to +4.5) for the U.S.A, -0.7% (-2.6 to +1.3%) for EU28, and +6.3% (+4.3 to +8.3%) 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. The difference between territorial and consumption emissions (the net emissions transfer via international trade) increased from 1990 to 2005, and stayed quite stable to 2016 when the last data is available. The regional contributions to emission from consumption are China (25%), the US (16%), the EU (12%) and India (6%).

ocean waves

Emissions from land use change

Net CO2 emissions from deforestation and other land-use change were 1.5±0.7 GtC (5.3±2.6 GtCO2) on average during 2008-2017, accounting for about 12% of all emissions from human activity (fossil fuel, industry, land use change). Emissions in 2017 were 1.4±0.7 GtC, consistent with the decadal average albeit with large uncertainty.

Together, land use change, fossil fuel and industry emissions, reached 11.3 GtC (41.2±2.8 GtCO2) in 2017.

ocean waves

CO2 removals by natural sinks

Of the total emissions from human activities during the period 2008-2017, about 44% accumulated in the atmosphere, 22% in the ocean and 29% on land. During this period, the size of the natural sinks grew in response to the increasing emissions, though year-to-year variability of that growth is large. The strength of the 2017 ocean CO2 sink was close to the decadal average and the land sink well above average. The total estimated sources do not match the total estimated sinks by about 5%, i.e., the carbon imbalance. This imbalance reflects the gap in our understanding and results from the uncertainties from all budget components.

Sky & clouds

Atmospheric CO2

The annual growth rate of atmospheric CO2 was 4.6±0.2 GtC (22.4 GtCO2 yr-1) in 2017, corresponding to an increase of 2.16±0.09 parts per million. This is close to the 2008-2017 average of 4.7±0.02 GtC yr-1 (17.2 GtCO2 yr-1). The global atmospheric CO2 concentration reached 405.0±0.10 ppm averaged over 2017, and the atmosphere is projected to accumulate an additional 4.9±0.7 GtC in 2018, bringing the atmospheric CO2 concentration to 407 ppm average over the year.


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 2017 were 425±20 GtC (1539 GtCO2) from fossil fuels and industry, and 180±60 GtC (660 GtCO2) from land use change. The total of 615±80 GtC of emissions was partitioned among the atmosphere (250±5 GtC), ocean (150±20 GtC), and the land (190±45 GtC). Land-use change represents about 31% of cumulative emissions over 1870–2017, coal 32%, oil 25%, and gas 10%.