North Korea
Overview of carbon emissions produced by North Korea
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What percentage of global greenhouse gas emissions does North Korea produce?

North Korea produces 0.17% of global emissions, and has been ranked the world’s 54th largest emitter of greenhouse gases since 1990. Since this date, their annual emissions have decreased by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of -2.3%.

Summary – GHG Emissions in North Korea

CountryNorth Korea
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in USD$nan
Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 201982.7m
Change in Emissions since 20187.6%
Percentage of Total Emissions (2019)0.17%
Rank – Emitters in 201964
Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions since 19902.76bn
Compound Annual Growth – Emissions since 1990-2.3%
Percentage of Total Emissions (1990-2019)0.24%
GDP Per Capita (USD)$nan
Emissions Per Capita3.2
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In the last recorded year (2019), North Korea was the world’s 64th largest producer of yearly carbon dioxide emissions and contributed 0.17% of all global emissions. The top three emitters in the same period were China, the United States, and India. These three nations produced 25.2%, 12%, and 7% of global emissions respectively.

6435daf17854d9cba92a37ed North%2520Korea change in emissions 1990 to present

In 2019, North Korea emitted 82.7m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, or MtCO₂e. This represented an increase in emissions from 2018 by 7.6%.

Emissions per capita in North Korea – average household carbon footprint

The population of North Korea is 25.9m. On a per capita basis, they produce 3.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) per person. This places them 128th 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 North Korea?

In 2019, North Korea produced 79.3m metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. This was an increase of 8% from 2018. 70.6% of these emissions came from CO2, 22.8% came from CH4, and 3.1% came from N2O.

The sector that produced the most emissions in 2019 was the energy industry. Energy produced 67m of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This amounted to 84.5% of total GHG in North Korea. The second and third largest emitting sectors were industrial processes and agriculture- producing 7.4% and 6.2% of total GHG respectively.


The industry that produced the most energy related emissions was the manufacturing/construction sector, emitting 33.4m tonnes of greenhouse gas. The second and third largest emitting sectors were fugitive emissions and building – producing 12.6m and 7.52m 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 North Korea, their LUCF had a negative impact on their emissions, increasing their footprint by 3.34m tonnes.

After accounting for land use change and forestry, the total amount of greenhouse emissions in North Korea in 2019 was 82.7m metric tonnes.

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

In 2019, gross domestic product (GDP) in North Korea did not change from the previous year. Measured in US dollars, the economy went from $nan to $nan. In the same period carbon emissions increased by 7.6%. Over a ten year period from 2009 to 2019, GDP did not change, while emissions have increased by 6.6%.

To put this into context, the compound annual growth rate of GDP in North Korea over the previous ten years was 0% and the CAGR for greenhouse gas emissions was 0.64%.

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