Carbon emitted from the US steadily rose during the 1990s, but levelled off during the mid-2000s, with latest data in 2012 showing 5.7 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions. This positions the country as the second largest emitter globally, after China, who overtook it by around 2006. From 2000 to 2012, China’s emissions rose sharply from 3.3 billion tonnes to 8.2 billion. Rather than promising reductions, as many countries are, leading up to COP21, China says their emissions will peak by 2030.
The US and China on their own each emit more than all the European OECD countries together. European emissions have long been fairly flat around the 4 billion tonne mark, with a slight decline beginning around 2008. Most countries showed some decrease following the crisis, while China continued its climb. Japan's carbon emissions have trailed those of the US, China and OECD Europe, but have been edging upwards, with the country remaining the second largest single emitter in the OECD in 2012. See StatLink to compare more countries.
©OECD Observer No 304, November 2015