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An Interactive Look At Carbon Emissions


There are many reasons why Canadians should be motivated to act when it comes to climate change.  We can consider the health, economic and social impacts that climate change will have on us and on future generations of Canadians.  We can look outside our borders, at the less fortunate residents of our little planet and see the already-severe impacts that climate change is having on them.  We can actually put climate change at the back of our minds and, instead, look at the long-term economic advantages of transitioning to renewable energy ASAP.  (Personally, I think an “all of the above” approach is the best way to go.)

What we certainly cannot do is point fingers at other countries and blame their inaction or their larger carbon footprint to justify inaction and obstruction.  Climate change is a problem that was brought about by many of us and will affect all of us if we do not act.  Having said that, if you’re really in the mood to blame people and want to know which country is the worst when it comes carbon emissions, a fellow blogger found the tool that will help you do just that!

Interactive Emissions Map.  Photo:

Interactive Emissions Map. Photo:

Lucinda, the lady behind the eek.ology blog (go take a look, it’s really good) posted on her site an interactive map that ranks the nations of the world with regards to their carbon emissions.  Interestingly, as opposed to what you may hear in the news or from the mouths of politicians, there is more than one way to add up a countries CO2 emissions.  Below is a quick description each “measurement” and how Canada ranks for each one.  (Note that 1st place = worst.  Bad.  Carbon Criminal.  Jerk-face!)

Current CO2: This measurement looks at the amount of CO2 produced in a country through the burning of fossil fuels.  It’s simple, easy, but doesn’t tell the whole story.  Canada: 8th.

Current CO2 per person: This measurement is a little more revealing (and some say fairer) because it takes a country’s “Current CO2” and divides it by the population.  The result is a measurement of emissions per individual in a country.  Note that the world’s Carbon Scapegoat, China, is in 1st place when it comes to Current CO2.  However, when looking at CO2 per person, they are ranked 56th.  So, yes China emits a lot of carbon.  But that’s partly because they have a lot of people!    Canada: 13th.

Historical CO2: CO2 can stay in the atmosphere for centuries.  That makes Historical CO2 (the measurement of how much CO2 has been emitted by burning fossil fuels since 1850) an important indicator of a country’s total “contribution” to the increase in the concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere.  Canada: 10th.

Historical CO2 per person: Same as previous, but divided by a country’s current population.  Canada: 8th.  (China: 89th!)

Consumption: This one is interesting.  It takes the amount of CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels in a country and adds the emissions associated with producing the goods that are consumed in that country.  Canada: 10th.

Consumption per person: Same as above but divided by population.  I would argue that this is the most telling measurement of a country’s role in current emissions.  It isn’t just a question of how much energy a country consumes, but also a country of how much energy is needed to sustain a population’s lifestyle.  Canada: 5th.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 2011/12/17 12:39 am

    Thanks for presenting some balance. Mathematical models can reveal different figures depending what questions are asked. I like your approach. mahalo

  2. 2012/01/03 6:33 pm

    Thanks for the props, JP 🙂 It’s also really interesting to see the Canadian perspective – our countries are very similar in many ways

    • 2012/01/03 8:38 pm

      It’s bad karma to take props where it isn’t due, so I had no choice 🙂

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