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Charted: Global CO2 Emissions by Income Group

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charting CO2 emissions by income

Global CO2 Emissions by Income Group

From a historical perspective, the current demand for natural resources has surged to unprecedented levels and continues to escalate—for both essential needs like food, clothing, water, housing, infrastructure, and non-essential consumption in everyday life.

This surge has been accompanied by annual increases in CO₂ emissions. Consumption, however, differs radically depending on income.

In this graphic, we visualize global CO₂ emissions in 2019, broken down by income group. This data comes from the Emissions Inequality Calculator, created by the Stockholm Environment Institute.

Wealthier Families Contribute More to CO₂ Emissions

In 2019, the world’s richest 1% (with an average income of $310K) were responsible for 15% of global CO₂ emissions.

The annual emissions of the 1% in 2019 canceled out the carbon savings of 1 million onshore wind turbines. In contrast, the bottom 50% (with an average income of $2,000) were responsible for only 8% of CO₂ emissions.

Here is the breakdown of emissions by income group in 2019, with average income in 2011 purchasing power parity USD:

Income GroupAverage income (USD)Share of CO₂ Emissions
Top 1%$310K15%
Next 9%$90K34%
Middle 40%$16K43%
Bottom 50%$2K8%

The reason for such disparity lies in consumption. For example, fashion is one of the most demanded industries in the world’s high-income countries. According to the UN, the fashion industry produces between 2% to 8% of global carbon emissions.

Another major contributor is the transport sector, which is more prevalent in developed countries. Greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector alone have more than doubled since 1970, with around 80% of this increase coming from road vehicles.

Higher-income families also spend more on food, contributing to CO₂ emissions. The production, transportation, and handling of food generates significant CO₂ emissions. In addition, when food ends up in landfills, it also generates methane.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, each year, U.S. food loss and waste embodies 170 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent GHG emissions (excluding landfill emissions)—equal to the annual CO₂ emissions of 42 coal-fired power plants.

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Ranking the Top 15 Countries by Carbon Tax Revenue

This graphic highlights France and Canada as the global leaders when it comes to generating carbon tax revenue.

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A chart showing the top 15 countries by carbon tax revenue.

Top 15 Countries by Carbon Tax Revenue

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Carbon taxes are designed to discourage CO2 emissions by increasing the cost of carbon-intensive activities and incentivizing the adoption of cleaner energy alternatives.

In this graphic we list the top 15 countries by carbon tax revenue as of 2022. The data is from the World Bank’s State and Trends of Carbon Pricing Report, published in April 2023.

France and Canada Lead in Global Carbon Tax Revenue

In 2022, the top 15 countries generated approximately $30 billion in revenue from carbon taxes.

France and Canada lead in this regard, accounting for over half of the total amount. Both countries have implemented comprehensive carbon pricing systems that cover a wide range of sectors, including transportation and industry, and they have set relatively high carbon tax rates.

CountryGovernment revenue
in 2022 ($ billions)
🇫🇷 France$8.9
🇨🇦 Canada$7.8
🇸🇪 Sweden$2.3
🇳🇴 Norway$2.1
🇯🇵 Japan$1.8
🇫🇮 Finland$1.7
🇨🇭 Switzerland$1.6
🇬🇧 United Kingdom$0.9
🇮🇪 Ireland$0.7
🇩🇰 Denmark$0.5
🇵🇹 Portugal$0.5
🇦🇷 Argentina$0.3
🇲🇽 Mexico$0.2
🇸🇬 Singapore$0.1
🇿🇦 South Africa$0.1

In Canada, the total carbon tax revenue includes both national and provincial taxes.

While carbon pricing has been recognized internationally as one of the more efficient mechanisms for reducing CO2 emissions, research is divided over what the global average carbon price should be to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5–2°C by 2100 relative to pre-industrial levels.

A recent study has shown that carbon pricing must be supported by other policy measures and innovations. According to a report from Queen’s University, there is no feasible carbon pricing scenario that is high enough to limit emissions sufficiently to achieve anything below 2.4°C warming on its own.

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