Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Cameroon

Overview of greenhouse gases and emissions per capita in Cameroon. Are they prepared to meet net zero targets and invest in the energy transition?
Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Cameroon
Overview of greenhouse gases and emissions per capita in Cameroon. Are they prepared to meet net zero targets and invest in the energy transition?
Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Cameroon
Overview of greenhouse gases and emissions per capita in Cameroon. Are they prepared to meet net zero targets and invest in the energy transition?

What percentage of global greenhouse gas emissions does Cameroon produce?

Cameroon produced 0.2% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 (the latest date with complete emissions data). This amounted to 92.7m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, or MtCO₂e. These emissions represented a decrease from 2020 by -0.4%.

In the period from 1990 to 2021 their emissions have increased by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.8% and Cameroon has contributed 0.21% of global greenhouse emissions.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in USD$45.2bn
Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 202192.7m
Change in Emissions since 2020-0.4%
Percentage of Total Emissions (2021)0.2%
Rank – Emitters in 202156
Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions since 19902.52bn
Compound Annual Growth – Emissions since 19904.8%
Percentage of Total Emissions (1990-2021)0.21%
GDP Per Capita (USD)$1.66k
Emissions Per Capita3.4

In 2021, Cameroon was the world’s 56th largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions. The largest emitters in the same period were China, the United States, India, Russia and Brazil.

When looking at emissions over time Cameroon is the 56th largest emitter since 1990.

Emissions per capita in Cameroon – average household carbon footprint

The population of Cameroon is 27.2m. On a per capita basis, they produce 3.4 tonnes of CO2e per person, placing them 114th out of 191 on emissions produced per capita. The biggest per capita emitters are Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Turkmenistan.

What is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Cameroon?


10.4% of emissions in Cameroon came from Carbon Dioxide (CO2), 18.6% came from Methane (CH4), and 67.3% came from Nitrous Oxide (N2O).


The sector that produced the most emissions in 2021 was the industrial processes industry, producing 60.9m of GHG emissions, constituting 65.7% of total.

The second and third largest emitting sectors were land-use change and forestry and energy, producing 36.6% and 15.4% of total GHG in Cameroon.


The industry that produced the most energy related emissions was the fugitive emissions industry, producing 5.37m of GHG emissions, constituting 5.8% of total emissions.

The second and third largest emitting sectors were transportation and building, emitting 3.65m and 2.82m tonnes of GHG each.

Land Use Change and Forestry

Land use change and forestry (LUCF), such as deforestation and conversion of natural ecosystems to agricultural or urban areas, can have a significant impact on carbon emissions.

  • Trees and other vegetation absorb and store carbon through the process of photosynthesis, and when they are cut down or burned, that stored carbon is released into the atmosphere.
  • Deforestation and other forms of land use change can also reduce the ability of ecosystems to absorb and store carbon in the future. Additionally, the conversion of land for agriculture or urban development can lead to the release of carbon stored in the soil.
  • On the other hand, sustainable forestry practices, such as reforestation and afforestation, can help to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in trees and other vegetation.

In the case of Cameroon, LUCF had a negative impact on Cameroon’s emissions, increasing their carbon footprint by 34m tonnes.

After accounting for land use change and forestry, the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions in Cameroon in 2021 was 127m metric tonnes.

How vulnerable is Cameroon to the impact of climate change?

The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN) Index

The ND-GAIN Index measures countries’ vulnerability to global challenges, including climate change, and their readiness to improve resilience.

Cameroon scores 40 on the ND-Gain Index and is classified in the ‘high vulnerability and low readiness’ category of climate change preparedness.

The index aims to assist businesses, governments, and communities in prioritising investments for a more efficient response to global shifts.

It is measured by combining two main components:

  1. Vulnerability: This evaluates a country’s vulnerability to environmental risks and its ability to adapt. It considers health, food and water availability, infrastructure, and ecosystem services. A higher score indicates greater vulnerability to environmental challenges.
  2. Readiness: This measures how well a country can leverage investments to mitigate climate change. It considers economic stability, governance, technology, and infrastructure. A higher score means a country is better prepared to implement resilience strategies.

This ranking helps identify areas where resources and adaptation strategies can be most effectively directed to mitigate risks and enhance resilience.

By combining these dimensions, the index provides a comprehensive approach to measuring countries’ ability to cope with the impacts of climate change.

High vulnerability and low readiness in Cameroon

In terms of readiness to adapt to climate change, Cameroon ranks in the bottom 10% group. Globally, the average readiness score is 0.424, with Cameroon posting a score of 0.261.

They show the greatest strength in social aspects, while their performance in economic aspects requires improvement.

  • Social readiness refers to the societal factors like inequality, education, and technology infrastructure that affect a country’s ability to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
  • Economic readiness refers to the business environment and its capacity to adapt to climate change, emphasizing the importance of a supportive regulatory framework for adaptation initiatives.

Regarding vulnerability to climate change, Cameroon falls into the above average category. Compared to the global average vulnerability score of 0.431, Cameroon has a score of 0.461.

Their resilience is most notable in infrastructure areas, yet they face significant challenges in habitat.

  • Infrastructure vulnerability refers to the weaknesses in the coastal protection, transportation, and energy systems, which are critical for building resilience against climate change. Coastal protection safeguards land and ports from rising sea levels and storms. Reliable transportation infrastructure is essential for corporate value chains and can be disrupted by extreme weather. Energy infrastructure resilience ensures a continuous supply of energy during natural disasters, maintaining economic stability.
  • Human habitat refers to the growth of cities and their capacity to withstand climate change impacts like floods and heatwaves. Improved infrastructure enhances urban resilience to extreme weather events.

The formula to calculate the ND-GAIN Index is

GAIN Index=(Readiness Indicators−Vulnerability Indicators+1)×50GAIN Index=(Readiness Indicators−Vulnerability Indicators+1)×50

In this formula:

  • The Readiness Indicators are measured on a scale of 0 to 1, where a higher score means that the readiness is better.
  • The Vulnerability Indicators are also measured on a scale of 0 to 1, but a lower score indicates better vulnerability in this case. 
  • The difference between the Readiness and Vulnerability scores is calculated and then incremented by 1. 
  • Finally, the result is multiplied by 50 to convert the GAIN Index score to a range of 0-100, where a higher score means the situation is better.

Is there a correlation between greenhouse gas emissions and economic growth in Cameroon?

In 2021, the gross domestic product (GDP) in Cameroon grew by 10.4% from the previous year, with the economy moving from $40.8bn to $45bn. During the same period, carbon emissions decreased by -0.37%. Over the ten-year period from 2011 to 2021, GDP grew 46.9%, while emissions increased by 9.9%.

To put this into context, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of GDP in Cameroon over the past ten years was 3.9%, and the CAGR for greenhouse gas emissions was 0.95%.


World Resources Institute, 2022. Climate Watch Historical GHG Emissions. [online] Washington, DC. Available at:

Global Carbon Project, 2023. Supplemental data of Global Carbon Budget 2023 (Version 1.1) [Data set]. Global Carbon Project. Available at:

UNFCCC, 2023. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Data. [online] Available at:

Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative, 2023. ND-GAIN Country Index. [online] Available at:

FAO, 2022. Land-Use Change and Forestry or Agriculture indicators from FAOSTAT Emissions Database. [online] Available at:

OECD/IEA, 2022. CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion. [online] Available at:

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