Global Pollution: The Top 8 Worst Polluting Countries

Human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are the primary cause of climate change. Their impact on global climate is catastrophic, and it is becoming increasingly imperative that these emissions be decreased to prevent people from exercising so much pressure on the planet. 

The situation is so dire that the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts a 130 percent rise in emissions by 2050 if current trends continue.

The largest polluting countries appear to recognize the need to cut emissions, yet despite accords like the Kyoto Protocol, carbon dioxide emissions continue to climb. Almost all of the world’s countries are responsible for the high level of global pollution, but eight stand out from the others.

polluted china

8 Worst Polluting Countries in the World

1. China

China is the largest polluter in the world, and they are the main reason emissions will climb by 130 percent by mid-century. The country’s power plants, transportation sector, and industrial facilities release vast quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is the primary cause of global warming, as it traps heat inside our atmosphere.

The majority of these sectors operate mainly in just five provinces, and they release more carbon dioxide than any other country in the world. As a result, cities like Beijing have witnessed continual red alerts for environmental pollution in recent years.

China has tried to control the damage by adopting policies that require factories and power plants to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions in an attempt to combat climate change. 

2. United States

The United States of America is the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The country’s carbon dioxide emissions are mainly driven by its power sector, including nuclear and fossil fuel power plants.

The United States accounts for more than 10 percent of global carbon emissions. The typical American annual carbon footprint is 15 tonnes, which is more than double of the average Chinese resident.

President Joe Biden has vowed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. According to the Financial Times, he is also cracking down on methane pollution, which, over 20 years, has more than eighty times the warming potential of carbon dioxide.

3. Russia

Although Russia’s overall greenhouse gas emissions have decreased since 1990, they are still expected to account for 1.6 billion tonnes of CO2 each year.

According to Climate Action Tracker, Russia’s climate objectives, policy, and financing are “critically insufficient.” “Under present policies, Russia’s economy-wide emissions are anticipated to either flatline or continue growing through 2030.

4. India

India is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, but its greenhouse gas emissions are climbing as a result. 

The country’s electricity sector, driven primarily by coal burning, accounts for most of its emissions. India has pledged to reduce its emissions intensity following the Paris Climate Agreement. 

However, this plan has been questioned by many climate experts as to whether or not it will help mitigate the impact of global warming on the country.

Recycling is also one problem that continues to plague India. Although they have been making progress in recycling in recent years, their overall recycling rate is too low, and the country still has a lot of work to do.

polluted India

5. Indonesia

Indonesia is another rapidly growing country with a significant increase in its greenhouse gas emissions. 

When countries become as wealthy as they are today, they naturally pollute more. Many of today’s countries were far more environmentally conscious when they were at the development stage of their economy. 

A country’s carbon footprint is often positively correlated with its GDP per capita. Wealthier countries probably have more money to spend on transportation and industrial facilities and less need for manual labor like farming and logging.

Recycling is one area that is hugely lagging behind in Indonesia. The country’s industrial waste and electronic trash account for most of their landfills, while they recycle only a small portion of this waste.

polluted Indonesia

6. Japan

Japan is the world’s largest user of fossil fuels and the fifth-highest producer of greenhouse emissions. This is because of its high degree of urbanization and industry that appears to care little for the climate, even if they have outstanding forestry practices and waste management. 

Since World War II’s end, Japan has significantly improved its industrial infrastructure. Since 1950, the country has been increasingly developing its heavy industry. Because of the dramatic expansion of industrial production, a significant quantity of pollutants has already been released into the environment each year.

polluted Japan

7. Germany

With a population of nearly 82 million, the Federal Republic of Germany generates the highest CO2 per capita in Europe, at 9.7 tonnes per capita each year. The floods that ravaged the European nation in 2021 serve as a sobering reminder that despite its wealth and resources, a government is powerless against natural disasters. Nonetheless, Germans’ environmental consciousness has increased in recent years. With 15% of the vote in the General Election of 2021, the Green Party became the third political force in the country. 

Recycling has also become a mainstream practice in the country. Germany reportedly recycles a vast portion of its waste, making it one of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world.

8. France

According to the UN study, France is the first G7 nation to reach the list, but it is by no means the last, with a per capita rate of 5.02 metric tons. According to an article published in France24, the government is now falling short of its 2050 carbon-neutral objective. 

The French government has, among other technologies, invested extensively in nuclear energy. France is the world’s greatest nuclear energy user per capita, accounting for 70% of the country’s electric production.

What Is the Leading Cause of C02 Emissions?

Burning coal is the biggest source of CO2 emissions caused by people and industries. Coal has the most carbon out of all the fossil fuels. Coal has been used to power electricity grids worldwide for decades because it is cheap and easy to find. In 2019, more than half of China’s energy came from coal. 

Why Is China’s Emissions Roofing?

China is the “manufacturer” of the planet, and a significant portion of its industrial production is powered by coal. Additionally, growing urbanization has led to an increase in the amount of CO2 emissions. Manufacturing of cement and steel, both essential for building infrastructure, is responsible for considerable amounts of carbon dioxide emissions.

In 2018, China’s cement manufacturing accounted for roughly 8 percent of the country’s total carbon dioxide emissions. On the other hand, China is responsible for producing almost fifty percent of the world’s steel. 

Author’s Note

The eight countries that lead the world in CO2 emissions are also the greatest economies on the planet. Recycling is valuable because it puts less stress on our planet and ensures that we have clean air and water to consume in the future. 

However, it is also important to remember that recycling only reduces a small portion of our overall carbon footprint. For example, if Americans recycle one-tenth of their newspapers, we would have saved 25 million trees each year, and choosing reusable water bottles instead of buying new ones helps reduce the amount of garbage we send to our landfills. Recycling will not solve all of our climate problems alone, but it will make a difference.

One of the main causes of global warming is how we are producing the energy required to power the factories that manufacture the goods we consume on a daily basis. And let’s not forget transportation and agriculture play an important role in climate change too.

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