Africa contributes only 4 percent of global carbon emissions despite being the continent that will suffer the most from climate change.
African leaders and delegates are gathering in Nairobi, Kenya, this week for the continent’s first climate summit.
African Climate 2023 summitThe forum, which will take place from 4-6 September and is co-hosted by the African Union, will cover critical climate issues facing African countries, as well as climate finance solutions and green growth across the continent of nearly 1.4 billion people.
Africa is the most continent exhibition to the effects of climate change. According to the International Rescue Committee, of the ten countries most vulnerable to climate disasters, seven are in Africa.
How much does Africa contribute to global emissions?
Carbon dioxide (CO2), the predominant greenhouse gas, is emitted from the combustion of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas, as well as from deforestation and cement production.
Carbon dioxide emissions contribute to higher global surface temperatures, leading to unpredictable weather conditions such as droughts, floods, heat waves and tropical cyclones.
In 2021, about 37.12 billion tons of carbon dioxide will be emitted worldwide. According to Oxfam, the richest 10% of the world’s population are responsible for more than half of all carbon emissions.
Africa’s carbon emissions pale in comparison to those of other continents. With 11.47 billion tons, China is the world’s largest polluter, followed by the United States (5 billion tons), India (2.7 billion tons), Russia (1.75 billion tons), and Japan (1.07 billion tons).
Africa, home to about 17 percent of the world’s population, contributes only 4 percent of global carbon emissions of 1.45 billion tons.
On a per capita basis, Africa has the lowest emissions of all the continents with an average of 1 ton of carbon dioxide emitted annually per capita, followed by South America (2.5 tons), Asia (4.6 tons), Europe (7.1 tons), and Oceania (10 tons) and North America (10.3 tons).
To put this into perspective, the average American or Australian emits as much carbon dioxide in one month as the person in Africa emits in one year.
Which are the leading carbon emitters in Africa?
In Africa, just three countries produce more than 60 percent of the continent’s carbon emissions – South Africa, which contributes 435.9 million tons, Egypt, with 249.6 million tons, and Algeria, which is responsible for 176.2 million tons.
South Africa is one of the world’s most coal-dependent countries, with nearly 85 percent of its carbon dioxide emissions coming from coal.
On a per capita basis, Libya, an oil-producing country, has the highest carbon dioxide emissions on the continent.
Conversely, many of the poorer countries across sub-Saharan Africa – such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and the Central African Republic – have the lowest average carbon dioxide footprints of about 0.1 tons per year.
The table below provides a breakdown of total carbon emissions and per capita carbon dioxide emissions for each African country. Use the search bar to find your country.