by H. Ritchie, Sep 18, 2020, in OurWorldlinData
To prevent severe climate change we need to rapidly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. The world emits around 50 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases each year [measured in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2eq)].1
To figure out how we can most effectively reduce emissions and what emissions can and can’t be eliminated with current technologies, we need to first understand where our emissions come from.
In this post I present only one chart, but it is an important one – it shows the breakdown of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2016.2 This is the latest breakdown of global emissions by sector, published by Climate Watch and the World Resources Institute.3,4
The overall picture you see from this diagram is that almost three-quarters of emissions come from energy use; almost one-fifth from agriculture and land use [this increases to one-quarter when we consider the food system as a whole – including processing, packaging, transport and retail]; and the remaining 8% from industry and waste.
To know what’s included in each sector category, I provide a short description of each. These descriptions are based on explanations provided in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report AR5) and a methodology paper published by the World Resources Institute.5,6