Wednesday 13 October 2021

Carbon emissions reloaded

[ Updates:  watch the updated bubble map video wrapping this all up at the bottom! ]

Late 2019 I wrote in A tale of two maps

LSE’s Leslie Sklair asked me recently to produce carbon emission snapshots for an upcoming book. I had already mapped CDIAC’s CO2 emissions since 1751, I updated with BP Stat. Review current data, and I created in Esri web mapping platform some dynamic counterparts to Carbon Atlas’ static maps.

 Those 2018 data were recently updated up to 2020, and further fuels listed by CDIAC were added to create this map, using Esri's improved web mapping:

All countries 1751 - 2020:

full size | above: click double L & R arrows to hide TOC & Feat. list 

Note that the differing time intervals dependent on data availability. 

By country emissions smallest to largest:

full size | above: click double L & R arrows to hide TOC & Feat. list 

Here each fuel has country aggregates spoofed as dates to show an animation by increased size.

Top 10

"No show is over until the fat lady sings" they say about opera. 

Likewise we cannot end this update without compiling stats for the top ten carbon emitters - which is what launched the request by LSE's Leslie Sklair, albeit from producers rather than countries - so here they are:

click to enlarge or see full here

... Check the China cement! Note that due to the longevity covered by CDIAC, per annum-s were calculated to normalise Total Carbon and Solid Fuel (coal): both rankings change a fair bit with the bottom 4, but they just swap around the top 6. You can also see a graphs rendition of all data in the updated Medium article (incl. a 2024 update) mentioned atop this post.


Leslie Sklair's book mentioned above has finally been published - "The Anthropocene in Global Media", LSE review, IIRA review - an earlier iteration of the table above is:
Figure 2.1 [Thinking like a planet, thinking like humans (Andrew Zolnai)] represents the best estimates we have for thinking about emissions like a planet and like humans. 

And here's an updated video animation of the two maps above by year and by emissions size, following corrections and outside input. My late Dad's scanned slides set a gritty backdrop to accompany the sombre music for a subject of great concern.


The terminology is used as-is from CDIAC and BSR, so here are the seven themes. They're in reverse order of layer stacking in the web maps, and are grouped as in the video. Also find some CDIAC wording  here, especially CO2 vs. Carbon often used interchangeably. They've been added as a slide just before the credits on the updated video above.
  • Carbon:
    • Total CO2: emissions from burning all of what follows
    • Per Capita: emissions divided by population (after 1950)
  • Fuels:
    • Solid: wood, coal, peat, coke etc.
    • Liquid: heavy fractions of petroleum
    • Gas: light fractions of petroleum
  • Other:
    • Cement Prod(uction): emissions from the production processes
    • Gas Flaring: from non-produced natural gas, usually at wellheads
These are reported by country, whose names differ by usage and over time and introduce reporting issues. Also Bunker Fuels are consumed outside borders, mainly shipping over seas: they are typically tallied outside the Total CO2 and thus not included, even if they are attributed by country. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

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