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By Johannes Friedrich, Mengpin Ge and Andrew Pickens

A lot has happened since countries met in Paris in 2015 and agreed on an accord to combat climate change. So far, more than 140 countries have ratified or otherwise joined the Paris agreement, representing more than 80 percent of global emissions. Several major economies, including Canada, Germany and Mexico, have also developed long-term plans to decarbonize their economies.

As countries implement their targets and policies and develop more detailed pathways to reduce their emissions, it's important to fully understand our global emissions picture and how it has changed over time.

The World Resources Institute (WRI) recently updated its CAIT Climate Data Explorer on the world's top greenhouse gas-emitting countries with the latest global data available (2013). Here's an interactive chart to explore it by country and by economic sector, showing how the top emitters have changed in recent years.

1. The World's Top Three Emitters Contribute 14 Times the Emissions of the Bottom 100

The top three greenhouse gas emitters—China, the European Union and the U.S.— contribute more than half of total global emissions, while the bottom 100 countries only account for 3.5 percent. Collectively, the top 10 emitters account for nearly three-quarters of global emissions. The world can't successfully tackle the climate change challenge without significant action from these countries.

2. The Energy Sector is the Major Culprit, but Action in Every Sector Counts

Over the past 10 years, the energy sector has remained the largest contributor to emissions over any other sector, representing 72 percent of global emissions in 2013.



China saw the largest increase in single-sector emissions from 2012 to 2013 from its energy production, which increased by 365 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) or 4 percent. The majority of these emissions came from an increase in electricity production, heating and transportation. However, this does represent a lower rate of increase than the historical average—China's average annual growth rate for coal consumption from 2000 to 2013 was 8.8 percent.

On the other hand, Australia, the world's 15th largest emitter, saw the largest emissions decrease in a single sector, with its agricultural emissions dropping by 65 MtCO2e or a reduction of 34.6 percent since 2012. The majority of those reductions came from a decrease in the area of burning savannah, which reduced methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions.

3. Some Major Emitters are Reversing Their Trends

From 2012 to 2013, the top 10 emitters cumulatively increased their emissions by 2.2 percent, compared to the average annual growth of 2.4 percent over the last 10 years. Within that same period, the top two global emitters, China and the U.S., saw the largest single year percentage increase in greenhouse gas emissions, with a rise of 4.3 and 1.4 percent respectively.

Even with that growth of emissions from 2012-2013 by top emitters, if we expand the timescale, their combined emissions have remained the same for the past decade. In that time, the U.S. peaked its emissions in 2007 and the European Union, the third-largest emitter, saw steady reductions. Others have stabilized their emissions over the last 10 years, including Russia and Canada.

More recent data looking only at energy-related carbon dioxide emissions shows that this type of emission stayed flat globally between 2014 and 2016, even as the global economy grew during the same period. Since carbon dioxide is the most abundant greenhouse gas, this is an encouraging trend. We await further data to see whether other types of greenhouse gases are growing or shrinking and whether this trend will continue.

As 21 countries are already proving, decoupling carbon dioxide emissions from economic growth is happening. But to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need to bend the emissions curve significantly downward.

Explore CAIT Data

Learn more about global emissions by visiting WRI's CAIT Climate Data Explorer. You can sift through data covering 186 countries, multiple economic sectors, several types of emissions and a 162-year timespan. We also provide tools to explore other dimensions of climate policy, including countries' Paris agreement mitigation contributions, projections of emissions from major emitters through 2100 and various dimensions of climate equity.

Renewable Energy

By Joel Jaeger

The solar, wind and energy efficiency industries already employ millions of people in the U.S. and they're poised to grow.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are 374,000 American jobs in solar energy, 102,000 in wind energy and more than 2.2 million related to energy efficiency. For comparison, 160,000 Americans work in coal, 360,000 in natural gas and 515,000 in oil.

Solar and wind are among the most dynamic industries in the nation. In 2016, solar employment expanded 17 times faster than the overall economy. Wind turbine technicians are expected to be the fastest-growing occupation over the next 10 years.

America's clean energy jobs are spread out far and wide. Below, see if you can find your state in the top 10 for solar, wind and energy efficiency employment:

A Closer Look at the Top States for Clean Energy Development

Texas is the top state for wind jobs and California is the top state for solar and energy efficiency jobs. Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina and Ohio also rank in the top 10 in multiple categories.

Of course, it's easier for Texas and California to be at the top of the list because they have such large populations. But what about the concentration of clean energy jobs as a proportion of total state employment?

Looking at employment on a per capita basis, North Dakota and South Dakota somewhat surprisingly come out on top for wind. About 4.3 out of every 1,000 jobs in North Dakota are in wind energy, as are 3.6 of every 1,000 in South Dakota. On solar, California still leads the pack even on a per capita basis, with solar accounting for 9.3 out of every 1,000 jobs. Nevada is a close second, with 8.9 out of every 1,000 jobs in solar energy. For energy efficiency, the leading states are Vermont (35.8 out of every 1,000 jobs) and Delaware (28.5 out of every 1,000 jobs).

Looking Beyond Electricity

It's not just in electricity, either. The share of the auto industry working with alternative fuels and fuel-efficient vehicles is growing as well. Of the 2.4 million workers in the industry in early 2016, more than 259,000 worked with alternative-fuel vehicles (including natural gas, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, all electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles) and at least 710,000 workers were focused on improving fuel economy or transitioning to alternative fuels.

It's clear that clean energy is driving job growth across the U.S. creating new economic opportunities and cutting across party lines. The question now is: Will the clean energy revolution continue under the Trump administration?

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Graffiti on a wall by London's Regent's Canal is believed to by an ironic work of art by acclaimed street artist Banksy.

By Kelly Levin and Rhys Gerholdt

The climate denier engine is revving up again. Last weekend an article in the Mail on Sunday attempted to cast doubt on the strength of climate science. It's now been taken up by the U.S. House Science Committee, which has been prone to promoting more climate denial than sound science in recent months. The news article doesn't just misinform; it is not grounded in facts.

At issue is a ground-breaking 2015 article in the journal Science by scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that showed the alleged "pause" in global warming during the first years of the 21st century never happened. The peer-reviewed article by NOAA's Thomas Karl and colleagues found the so-called "warming slowdown" was not substantiated by updated data. In fact, temperatures continued to rise after the year 2000 at about the same rate as they had since 1950.

The article in the Mail on Sunday was based on a blog post by retired NOAA researcher John Bates and claimed the Science article was rushed into publication to influence the December 2015 Paris agreement and that it was based on research that had not gone through a proper vetting process. The author of the Mail on Sunday news article, David Rose, has a history of publishing sensationalized articles that respected scientists have found to be false and misleading.

In the following, we summarize three main reasons that the Mail on Sunday article is inaccurate:

1. Multiple Lines of Evidence Confirm There Was No "Pause" in Global Warming

The Science article builds on a large body of research, including many other datasets that validate the main finding that there has been no "pause" in global warming through the latter part of the 20th and early 21st century. Zeke Hausfather and colleagues published an article in Science Advances which verifies the NOAA datasets, comparing them to independently collected records created from high quality instruments (buoys, satellite radiometers and Argo floats). Other researchers have come to the same conclusions.

While the Chairman of the House Science committee cited Bates' blog post as proof that NOAA played "fast and loose with data," Bates flatly refuted that in an interview with E&E, saying this "is not an issue of tampering with data."

2. The News Article Itself Manipulates Data Comparisons

The Mail on Sunday article includes a chart that appears to show a differential in data between NOAA and the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in the United Kingdom. However, as Hausfather points out, this effect is almost entirely due to using two different baselines to create the appearance of inconsistency. When this discrepancy is corrected, the difference in recent years—the core of Rose's argument—vanishes.

3. The Science Article Was Not Rushed and the Paris Agreement Was Not Dependent on Any One Study

The article in Science met the publication's rigorous review requirements and the authors made their data available to other researchers. Of course, the scientific community has a long-established process for disputing published findings. If there are really issues with a scientific study, they should be explored through the peer review process. In this case, multiple peer-reviewed studies independently validated the article's findings. The editor-in-chief of Science has made it clear that publication of the study was not rushed and he calls this accusation "baseless and without merit."

Moreover, the Paris agreement on climate change was not based on one study. It was built upon years of negotiations, drawing on a mountain of research from the scientific community. To say that achieving the Paris agreement was due to one scientific article being published months before the negotiations commenced is to discount decades of work by thousands of scientists and policymakers around the globe. By the time negotiators reached Paris, 188 countries had already submitted national climate plans. The idea that this study prompted countries to overcome lingering doubts about the science defies logic. Today the media outlet Climate Home reached out to 10 climate envoys and ministers involved in the Paris climate summit and found that "no one said this report made an iota of difference to its result."

The foundation of climate change science is built on a large body of work and our understanding of the basics of climate change goes back more than 150 years. Climate deniers will continue to spread misinformation, but we cannot run from the fact that the world is warming. Without a sustained response, the impacts will undoubtedly get far worse.

Kelly Levin is a senior associate with the World Resources Institute's major emerging economies objective. Rhys Gerholdt is the communications manager for the Global Climate Program at World Resources Institute.

By C. Forbes Tompkins, Kelly Levin and Noah Kaufman

During the recent confirmation hearings of President Trump's cabinet nominees, a familiar pattern has emerged. Many of them have acknowledged that climate change is happening, but each has then sowed doubt by either understating the connection between human activity and climate change or by suggesting that there's too much uncertainty to act. The overall effect of these statements is to confuse or stall progress.

The reality is that we know plenty about the role of people as a primary driver of climate change and government officials certainly know more than enough to act.

For example, during his hearing to become the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, Scott Pruitt claimed: "There is a diverse range of views regarding the key drivers of our changing climate among scientists."

Rex Tillerson, President Trump's selection to become the next Secretary of State, remarked: "I agree with the consensus view that combustion of fossil fuels is a leading cause for increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. I understand these gases to be a factor in rising temperatures, but I do not believe the scientific consensus supports their characterization as the 'key' factor."


Simply put, these views are not accurate and fly in the face of well-established science. The underlying research showing the connection between increasing CO2 concentrations and a warming planet was established more than 150 years ago. The statements above conflict with conclusions from all leading national and international scientific institutions (IPCC, NCA, WMO, NAS and UK MET Office) and they contradict the findings of the departments and agencies these appointees may soon be leading.

It is time for these leaders to look carefully at the climate science and establish policies based on the best scientific information available.

Here's a brief reminder of some of our fundamental understanding about climate science:

1. Global Temperatures are Rising at Unprecedented Levels

  • 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have occurred this century.
  • Average global temperatures have been above the 20th-century average for the past 40 consecutive years.

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[Editor's note: The New York Times reports that the Trump Administration is preparing executive orders that would have far sweeping consequences for the United Nations and multilateral treaties. According to their sources, the order will call for "at least a 40 percent decrease" in U.S. funds to the United Nations, while another calls for a review of America's multilateral treaties, including the recent and historic Paris agreement on climate change. This blog post is in response to this news.]

By Andrew Light and David Waskow

Last year was full of contradictions. Climate action made substantial strides forward, with momentum building on many fronts: The Paris agreement went into effect with record-breaking speed; countries amended the Montreal Protocol to phase-down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the most potent class of greenhouse gases; and the world created a global market-based mechanism to reduce CO2 emissions from civil aviation, to name just a few.

Then the election of Donald Trump as president of the U.S. suddenly raised doubts about whether the country will continue to play a leadership role and cooperate with other nations on climate policies. President Trump's derisive comments about climate change and the equivocation (at best) that his cabinet appointees have shown for international climate policies could put the U.S. at odds with the world.

But at this critical juncture, America should not become a climate isolationist. The rest of the world appears determined to press ahead in tackling climate change's threats to humanity's future. There are many good reasons the U.S. should not pull out of the international climate action movement:

Diplomatic Isolation

America's most steadfast allies and trade partners support the Paris agreement. One-hundred and ninety four countries joined the agreement; only three did not (Syria, Nicaragua and Uzbekistan). Many of the 130 heads of government who came to Paris in December 2015 emphasized the wide-ranging impacts of climate change on health, well-being and security and ultimately, each of the countries that joined the agreement did so in their own self-interest.

As countries worked to create the agreement, the landscape of global diplomacy was forever altered, with climate change breaking out of its historical silo to become an issue as central to international diplomacy as trade and security. This has also been reflected in the G7 and G20, where climate change has come to the center of the agenda.

Withdrawing from this wave of cooperation risks much. Countries are now clearly assessing each other's contributions to the stability of the global climate regime as a strong measure of whether they are good partners more broadly. If the Trump Administration doesn't honor its international commitments on climate change, they very well may find it difficult to engage countries on the new administration's priority issues.

We've been here before. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell described the reaction when President George W. Bush pulled the U.S. out of the Kyoto Protocol. As he told the New York Times, "when the blowback came, I think it was a sobering experience that everything the American president does has international repercussions." This assessment was echoed more recently by former U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern, who went on to say that a withdrawal from the Paris agreement would probably be, "much, much more significant than what happened before."

Leaving the Paris agreement would indicate the U.S. is abandoning its place in the international climate regime, where other countries will surely step into the vacuum and reap the benefits of global leadership. And just staying in the agreement is not enough—failing to also honor our commitments or help generate international progress could isolate the country from continued global engagement on this core issue.

World leaders from Chancellor Merkel of Germany to President Xi of China have made clear the importance of continued U.S. engagement on climate change. The first test of the Trump Administration may come soon at the G7 meeting in Italy in May or the G20 meeting in Germany in July, when we may see host countries propose an extension of the strong language on climate change delivered at the last meetings of these fora.

By Tyler Clevenger and Daniel Melling

"I love charts! I love charts!" Trump exalted back in August, to a cheering crowd of thousands.

On Jan. 20, Donald Trump will once again stand in front of a crowd, this time being sworn in as the 45th president of the U.S. During the campaign, Trump assured Americans he would preside over a time of rising employment, a growing economy and cheap, abundant, reliable energy.

Here are five charts that show why clean energy is key to keeping these promises.

Chart 1: The Cost of U.S. Renewable Energy Is Falling

Thanks in part to record-setting investment in the sector, the cost of generating clean, emissions-free energy has declined precipitously since 2008. Continued innovation and policy prioritization can ensure that prices decline even further than they are projected.

U.S. Department of Energy

Chart 2: Solar Energy Alone Provides More Jobs than Oil, Gas and Coal Extraction

Solar energy jobs have skyrocketed, largely due to plummeting prices that have increased U.S. demand. Adding millions of additional jobs in the wind power and energy efficiency sectors, the clean energy industry is one of the most rapidly-growing employers in the U.S.

Bloomberg

Furthermore, the single fastest-growing occupation in the U.S. is wind turbine service technician, with more than 100 percent growth forecast in the next decade.

Chart 3: States Are Cutting Emissions While Boosting Their Economies

Across the U.S., states are decoupling energy use and economic growth. Between 2000 and 2014, 33 states saw their economies grow by an average of 22 percent while reducing emissions by 12 percent. This decoupling is particularly prevalent in Northeast and Southern states, where a shift away from coal power has led to a decline in carbon dioxide emissions.

Brookings Institution

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By Paula Caballero

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon hosted a special event at which 31 countries officially joined the Paris agreement on climate change, bringing the total to 60 countries representing 48 percent of emissions that have now officially joined. This brings the agreement close to the threshold of 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions that will trigger the agreement to enter into force 30 days hence. See World Resources Institute's Paris Agreement Tracker to view which countries have officially joined.

The world has banded together around a zero-carbon, climate resilient future, pushing us much closer to bringing the Paris agreement into full effect.

With 31 more countries joining, it is abundantly clear that support for the Paris agreement is unwavering. The global community is rallying behind swift and ambitious action to combat climate change. The fact that Paris agreement will likely enter into force this year took everyone by surprise. This rapid pace reflects a spirit of cooperation rarely seen on a global scale.

World leaders are coming to realize that strong climate action is a prerequisite for stronger and more inclusive economic growth. By sending clear signals that a zero-carbon future is on the way, the private and public sectors can get down to work, aligning their plans of action with this new reality.

Today we pause and celebrate the important progress towards bringing the Paris agreement into force. Then we again pick up our shovels and continue the hard work of creating a safer and more prosperous planet.

Paula Caballero is the global director of the climate program at World Resources Institute.

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