Climate change rally
Maya Bian, a senior Global Health Equity student, holds a protest sign at the rally before the "Global Climate Strike" march, on Friday, September 20, 2019.

Carbon emissions are hurting the planet we live on. That’s the long and short of it. To lessen the effects of climate change, humanity needs to drastically reduce its output of carbon. 

Reducing personal carbon footprints are important. Every little bit helps. However, corporations and industry are the leading sources of carbon. 

Ending climate change is a global endeavor, and one that’ll require massive economic change. We should start by addressing the world’s largest polluters, as well as the governments which house them. 

Here are the worlds’ largest carbon emitters 

The United States

Fossil fuel usage is the largest source of greenhouse gases, so we also need to consider where the most fossil fuels are burnt. According to a report from European Commission, the United States is second largest emitter of greenhouse gases—the country having emitted 5,107.393 tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2017.

But those emissions come from a variety of sources. 

The Environment Protection Agency provides further details about where the EU statistic comes from. According the EPA, 22.2% of 2017 greenhouse emissions came from industry. That’s when fossil fuels are used to help produce goods from raw materials. In the same report, 28.9% of US emissions came from transportation in cars, ships, trains, trucks and planes. Ninety percent of US transportation fuel is petroleum based, causing further harm to the planet. 

Furthermore, 27.5% of emissions came from electricity production. 

These are not household sources — which make up only 11.6% of emissions. Rather, they’re sectors that require large-scale intervention to change. Cities can be altered to better accommodate foot traffic, industries can use renewable sources and those sources can also provide our energy. 

The nationwide carbon footprint will require a lot of work.


According to the European Commission report, China is single largest polluting country in the world. In 2017 alone, 10,877.218 tonnes of carbon dioxide came out of China.

Most of those emissions came from energy production, transportation, and industrial combustion. China is also continually on the rise. There was a 104% increase in transport emissions between 2005 and 2017, and those numbers are only increasing. 

As companies continue to do business in China, more industrialization occurs. This leads to more pollution and a lower quality of life for Chinese residents due to air quality. 

China’s example reminds us of the global in global warming; that the situation requires more than just one nation to solve.

The Fuel Industry 

From 1965 to 2018, the fuel industry’s top 20 companies emitted 480,168 tonnes of methane and carbon dioxide.

According to an Oct. 2019 report by the Climate Accountability Institute, that makes them responsible for 35% of all carbon emissions from the time man-made climate change became known to the most recently available emission data.

Furthermore, those corporations are all fuel companies using carbon-intensive processes to locate, collect and refine non-renewable resources. These resources are then sold and used to create energy, further expediting climate change.

The largest carbon emitting energy firm is Saudi Aramaco, based in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Aramaco alone contributed to 4.38% of the world’s greenhouse gas emission from 1965 to 2017.

US-based oil companies like Chevron and ExxonMobil are the world’s second and fourth most emitters with 3.20% and 3.09% respectively, with the Russian natural gas company Gazprom being third at 3.19%.

Any climate change discussion must address how we’re going to deal with these corporations. 

The full report can be read here.

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