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Ranked: The Most Carbon-Intensive Sectors in the World

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Ranked: The Most Carbon-Intensive Sectors in the World

Ranked: The Most Carbon-Intensive Sectors in the World

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Ever wonder which sectors contribute the most to CO2 emissions around the world?

In this graphic, we explore the answers to that question by comparing average Scope 1 emission intensities by sector, according to an analysis done by S&P Global Inc.

Defining Scope 1 Emissions

Before diving into the data, it may be useful to understand what Scope 1 emissions entail.

Scope 1 emissions are direct greenhouse gas emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by a company, such as their facilities and vehicles.

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Scope 1 emissions can do a good job of highlighting a company’s environmental footprint because they represent the direct emissions related to manufacturing or creating a company’s products, whether they are tangible goods, digital software, or services.

Scope 2 and 3 emissions, on the other hand, encompass the indirect emissions associated with a company’s activities, including those from a company’s purchased electricity, leased assets, or investments.

Ranking the Carbon Giants

According to S&P Global’s analysis of 2019-2020 average emissions intensity by sector, utilities is the most carbon-intensive sector in the world, emitting a staggering 2,634 tonnes of CO2 per $1 million of revenue.

Materials and energy sectors follow behind, with 918 tonnes and 571 tonnes of CO2 emitted, respectively.

SectorSector ExplanationScope 1 CO2 emissions per $1M of revenue, 2019-2020
UtilitiesElectric, gas, and water utilities and independent producers2,634 tonnes
MaterialsChemicals, construction materials, packaging, metals, and mining918 tonnes
EnergyOil and gas exploration/production and energy equipment571 tonnes
IndustrialsCapital goods, commercial services, and transportation194 tonnes
Consumer staplesFood, household goods, and personal products90 tonnes
Consumer discretionaryAutomobiles, consumer durables, apparel, and retailing33 tonnes
Real estateReal estate and real estate management31 tonnes
Information technologySoftware, technology hardware, and semiconductors24 tonnes
FinancialsBanks, insurance, and diversified financials19 tonnes
Communication servicesTelecommunication, media, and entertainment9 tonnes
Health careHealth care equipment, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and life sciences7 tonnes

S&P Global also reveals some interesting insights when it comes to various industries within the materials sector, including:

  • Cement manufacturing exhibits an extremely high level of Scope 1 emissions, emitting more than double the emissions from the utilities sector (5,415 tonnes of CO2 per $1M of revenue)
  • Aluminum and steel production are also quite emission-intensive, emitting 1,421 and 1,390 tonnes respectively in 2019-2020
  • Relatively lower-emission materials such as gold, glass, metals and paper products bring down the average emissions of the materials sector

Given these trends, a closer look at emission-intensive industries and sectors is necessary for our urgent need to decarbonize the global economy.

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Top Countries By Forest Growth Since 2001

One country is taking reforestation very seriously, registering more than 400,000 square km of forest growth in two decades.

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A cropped treemap showing the countries by their total forest growth measured in square kilometers.

Ranked: Top Countries By Forest Growth Since 2001

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

Reforestation is tricky business: it’s expensive, difficult to plan, and even harder to execute. And this is without all the associated environmental obstacles: weather, pests, and natural calamities.

However, some countries have prioritized replanting their lost forests, especially in the last two decades as the climate movement has gathered steam.

We visualized forest growth around the world, ranking countries by their forest area increases between 2001–2021, measured in square kilometers (km²).

All of this data was sourced from the World Bank. Note that countries are ranked by forest growth in square kilometers, rather than percentage change.

Which Country Leads Forest Growth Since 2001?

China tops the list, expanding its forest area by nearly 425,000 km2 (roughly the size of Sweden) between 2001–21. This is more than the next 19 countries combined. Relatively speaking, China’s forests increased by almost one-fourth.

RankCountryRegion2001–21 Change
(Km2)
% of Forest Growth
1🇨🇳 ChinaAsia424,96224%
2🇺🇸 U.S.North America57,4062%
3🇷🇺 RussiaEurope54,5641%
4🇮🇳 IndiaAsia46,4497%
5🇻🇳 VietnamAsia27,74523%
6🇨🇱 ChileSouth America24,25715%
7🇦🇺 AustraliaOceania24,1782%
8🇹🇷 TurkiyeMiddle East21,34511%
9🇫🇷 FranceEurope19,35313%
10🇪🇸 SpainEurope13,3748%
11🇮🇷 IranMiddle East13,03314%
12🇮🇹 ItalyEurope11,84814%
13🇨🇺 CubaCentral America7,57330%
14🇹🇭 ThailandAsia7,3154%
15🇺🇿 UzbekistanAsia7,15224%
16🇺🇾 UruguaySouth America6,46846%
17🇷🇴 RomaniaEurope5,4829%
18🇧🇬 BulgariaEurope4,94815%
19🇧🇾 BelarusEurope4,7346%
20🇵🇱 PolandEurope4,0905%
N/A🌍 World-957,658-2%

There are some other countries who have achieved similar relative levels of reforestation. Within Asia, Vietnam’s forests as a percentage of total land area have doubled since 1990. Since 2001, its forests have grown nearly 28,000 km², a 23% increase.

Uzbekistan similarly expanded its forested area by 24%, which amounts to about 7,000 km².

Meanwhile, Chile and Uruguay, are the only two South American countries that have managed to expand their forest cover in the last two decades—the latter by a staggering 46%. In contrast, the rest of South America is instead seeing significant deforestation.

It’s interesting to note that reforestation also comes with its own risks. Introducing non-native or monoculture tree species can reduce biodiversity and lead to soil erosion.

And despite global reforestation efforts, the world still lost close to a million square kilometers of forests since 2001.

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