The 40 Countries Decreasing Emissions the Fastest

Nations around the world are answering the clarion call to cut greenhouse gas emissions in response to climate change.

At the United Nations Glasgow climate summit in November, nearly 200 nations agreed to speed up the fight against climate change and commit to stronger climate pledges. The United States and China — the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gasses — vowed to improve their cooperation on climate change, a similar commitment made at the Paris Agreement in 2015. Progress at the November summit also was reportedly made in areas of methane gas and deforestation. 

As countries confront the challenge to the survival of the planet, some countries do a better job than others in reducing carbon emissions. (This country is the worst polluter in the world.)

To determine the 40 countries decreasing emissions the fastest, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from The Global Carbon Project, published annually by the Integrated Carbon Observation System, a community of more than 500 scientists, and from the International Energy Agency GHG Emissions from Energy 2021 Edition report. Countries are ranked by total CO2 emissions change from 2010 to 2020 using data from the Global Carbon Project. 

Data on CO2 emissions change from 1971 to 2020 and total emissions by country are also from the Global Carbon Project. Data on change in CO2 emissions per capita and GHG emissions are from the IEA report.

Ever since the Paris Agreement, countries around the world have directed efforts to address the climate change threat. More than 200 countries agreed to limit GHG emissions to try and keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius compared with temperatures before the Industrial Revolution.

Yet not everyone believes nations are moving fast enough. Climate scientists, legal experts, and politicians said agreements at the Glasgow conference did not go far enough to address the climate threat. Dissatisfaction with the pace of progress manifested itself in France, when a French court this past February convicted the French government of failing to show enough progress in meeting its legally binding emission reduction targets.

Countries on every continent except Australia are represented on the list of 40 as those that have reduced emissions the fastest from 2010 to 2020. More than half are European nations, many of whom are bound by GHG emission commitments tied to their membership to the European Union.

The continent with the next-most countries on the list is Asia with six, followed by North and South America with three each. (These are America’s 50 dirtiest cities.)

The United States, which returned to the Paris Agreement in February after President Joe Biden took office, managed to make the list of 40. As the world’s second largest polluter, however,the U.S. needs to do more. The world’s largest polluter, China, did not even make the list. China’s carbon emissions increased by nearly 24% from 2010 to 2020, and its GHG emissions by over 25%. (These are cities emitting the most carbon dioxide in the world.)

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