Last year I attempted to find some examples of developing countries where CO2 emissions are falling – not altogether successfully, I might add. It was something of an experiment. Here’s a graph that would have saved me a lot of trouble, from the data-mongers at Our World in Data.
It shows absolute change in emissions. Blue colours mean emissions are falling, with darker blue indicating bigger declines. Red is the inverse.
This is useful because we know that emissions have been falling in countries with high emissions, mainly across the global north. We also know that emissions will continue to rise in very low income countries with very low carbon footprints. The key bit that I want to hear more about is emissions beginning to peak and decline in middle-income countries. That would show that the global trend is turning towards the decarbonisation, and that more countries are choosing lower carbon development.
This is a graph that shows us at a glance that there are some middle income countries where emissions are falling – particularly in Eastern Europe and Latin America.
Not every blue country is a success story, mind you. Some places have seen emissions fall because of natural disasters or economic turmoil. This only shows one year, so you’ll need the original interactive version of this graphic to see trends. And it’s hard to get excited about modest declines in small countries while the world’s biggest carbon polluter, China, is flashing the darkest red.
Still, this is an image to note and to return to. It needs to be all blue, eventually, and the gradual change in the colours of this map is in some ways the story of the century.