Overview of carbon emissions produced by China
Last updated:
Loading reading time...

What percentage of global greenhouse gas emissions does China produce?

China produces 25.2% of global emissions, and has been ranked the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases since 1990. Since this date, their annual emissions have increased by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5%.

Summary – GHG Emissions in China

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in USD$17.7tr
Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 201912.1bn
Change in Emissions since 20182%
Percentage of Total Emissions (2019)25.2%
Rank – Emitters in 20191
Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions since 1990212bn
Compound Annual Growth – Emissions since 19905%
Percentage of Total Emissions (1990-2019)18.3%
GDP Per Capita (USD)$12.6k
Emissions Per Capita8.5
6435da7ed2525b1ed8ab4159 China and ten largest%2520emitters since 1990

In the last recorded year (2019), China was the world’s largest producer of yearly carbon dioxide emissions and contributed 25.2% of all global emissions. Other countries with a large amount of emissions in the same period include the United States, India, and Indonesia. These three nations produced 12%, 7%, and 4.1% of global emissions respectively.

641ce7bf6a84db60bd6f948e China change in emissions 1990 to present

In 2019, China emitted 12.1bn metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, or MtCO₂e. This represented an increase in emissions from 2018 by 2%.

Emissions per capita in China – average household carbon footprint

The population of China is 1.41bn. On a per capita basis, they produce 8.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) per person. This places them 52nd out of 191 on emissions produced per capita. The top three emitters per capita are Solomon Islands, Qatar, and Kuwait.

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

In 2019, China produced 12.7bn metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. This was an increase of 1.9% from 2018. 84.3% of these emissions came from CO2, 9.3% came from CH4, and 4.3% came from N2O.

The sector that produced the most emissions in 2019 was the energy industry. Energy produced 10.6bn of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This amounted to 83.6% of total GHG in China. The second and third largest emitting sectors were industrial processes and agriculture- producing 9.6% and 5.2% of total GHG respectively.


The industry that produced the most energy related emissions was the electricity/heat sector, emitting 5.62bn tonnes of greenhouse gas. The second and third largest emitting sectors were manufacturing/construction and transportation – producing 2.79bn and 926m 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 China, their LUCF had a positive impact on their emissions, reducing their footprint by 650m tonnes.

After accounting for land use change and forestry, the total amount of greenhouse emissions in China in 2019 was 12.1bn metric tonnes.

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

In 2019, gross domestic product (GDP) in China grew by 2.8% from the previous year. Measured in US dollars, the economy went from $13.9tr to $14.3tr. In the same period carbon emissions increased by 2%. Over a ten year period from 2009 to 2019, GDP grew by 180%, while emissions have increased by 33.1%.

To put this into context, the compound annual growth rate of GDP in China over the previous ten years was 10.8% and the CAGR for greenhouse gas emissions was 2.9%.

Leave a comment