Climate Orb
CO2 EmissionsX

Annual production-based emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), measured in tonnes. This is based on territorial emissions, which do not account for emissions embedded in traded goods.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. Carbon dioxide is naturally present in the atmosphere as part of the Earth's carbon cycle (the natural circulation of carbon among the atmosphere, oceans, soil, plants, and animals). Human activities are altering the carbon cycle–both by adding more CO2 to the atmosphere and by influencing the ability of natural sinks, like forests and soils, to remove and store CO2 from the atmosphere. While CO2 emissions come from a variety of natural sources, human-related emissions are responsible for the increase that has occurred in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution. The main human activity that emits CO2 is the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil) for energy and transportation. Certain industrial processes and land-use changes also emit CO2. The main sources of CO2 emissions are Transportation, Eletricity and Industry.

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Fertilizer consumptionX

Fertilizer consumption is measured as the sum of synthetic inputs of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous, plus organic nitrogen inputs.

One of the main nutrients that plants need to grow is nitrogen. But plants can’t take in nitrogen from the air the way they can absorb carbon dioxide or oxygen. In the early 1900s, scientists invented a process to mass-produce a nitrogen-containing compound, ammonia, that plants can absorb from the soil. Today, ammonia is the second-most commonly produced chemical in the world, used in huge quantities as a very effective fertilizer. This invention revolutionized farming, doubling the number of people that one acre of land could feed. But ammonia has to be made at a high pressure under high temperatures—meaning it takes a lot of energy to manufacture. Most of that energy comes from burning fossil fuels like coal and methane gas, which give off the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, the main cause of climate change. Ammonia manufacturing today contributes between 1 and 2% of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions. Fertilizers also produce greenhouse gases after farmers apply them to their fields. Crops only take up, on average, about half of the nitrogen they get from fertilizers. Much of the applied fertilizer runs off into waterways, or gets broken down by microbes in the soil, releasing the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. Although nitrous oxide accounts for only a small fraction of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, pound for pound, nitrous oxide warms the planet 300 times as much as carbon dioxide.

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Forest areaX

A forest is defined as Land spanning more than 0.5 hectares with trees higher than 5 meters and a canopy cover of more than 10 percent, or trees able to reach these thresholds in situ. It does not include land that is predominantly under agricultural or urban land use.

Forests store large amounts of carbon. Trees and other plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow. This is converted into carbon and stored in the plant’s branches, leaves, trunks, roots and in the soil. When forests are cleared or burnt, stored carbon is released into the atmosphere, mainly as carbon dioxide. Averaged over 2015—2017, global loss of tropical forests contributed about 4.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year (or about 8-10% of annual human emissions of carbon dioxide). Whilst forests are important carbon sinks, meaning they draw down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the carbon stored in these sinks is part of an active, relatively quick carbon cycle. As living things (including trees) die and decay, the carbon that they once stored is released back into the atmosphere. Burning fossil fuels, in combination with destruction of carbon sinks due to deforestation and other activities, has contributed to more and more carbon dioxide building up in the atmosphere – more than can be absorbed from existing carbon sinks such as forests. The build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is driving global warming, as it traps heat in the lower atmosphere. Carbon dioxide levels are now at their highest in human history. It is not effective to “offset” greenhouse gas pollution from burning fossil fuels by storing carbon in forests. This is because fossil fuels are pumping much more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than existing forests can absorb. At the same time, carbon stores in forests and other natural carbon sinks will become increasingly unstable as climate change progresses. Droughts, tropical storms, heatwaves and fire weather are increasing in severity and frequency because of climate change. This will continue to result in increases in forest losses, contributing to more and more carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.

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Fossil fuels consumptionX

Fossil Fuels (oil, coal and gas) consumption (in tonnes) to produce energy.

Fossil fuels are formed from the decomposition of buried carbon-based organisms that died millions of years ago. They create carbon-rich deposits that are extracted and burned for energy. They are non-renewable and currently supply around 80% of the world’s energy. They are also used to make plastic, steel and a huge range of products. There are three types of fossil fuel – coal, oil and gas. When fossil fuels are burned, they release large amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the air. Greenhouse gases trap heat in our atmosphere, causing global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that emissions from fossil fuels are the dominant cause of global warming. In 2018, 89% of global CO2 emissions came from fossil fuels and industry. Coal is a fossil fuel, and is the dirtiest of them all, responsible for over 0.3C of the 1C increase in global average temperatures. This makes it the single largest source of global temperature rise. Oil releases a huge amount of carbon when burned - approximately a third of the world’s total carbon emissions. There have also been a number of oil spills in recent years that have a devastating impact on our ocean’s ecosystem. Natural gas is often promoted as a cleaner energy source than coal and oil. However, natural gas is still a fossil fuel and accounts for a fifth of the world’s total carbon emissions.

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Meat productionX

Production of Meat and other animal-derived food products in tonnes.

Cows and other ruminant animals (like goats and sheep) emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas, as they digest grasses and plants. This process is called “enteric fermentation,” and it’s the origin of cows’ burps. Methane is also emitted from manure. Additionally, nitrous oxide, another powerful greenhouse gas, is emitted from ruminant wastes on pastures and chemical fertilizers used on crops produced for cattle feed. More indirectly but also importantly, rising beef production requires increasing quantities of land. New pastureland is often created by cutting down trees, which releases carbon dioxide stored in forests. In 2017, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that total annual emissions from beef production, including agricultural production emissions plus land-use change, were about 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2010. That means emissions from beef production in 2010 were roughly on par with those of India, and about 7% of total global greenhouse gas emissions that year. Because FAO only modestly accounted for land-use-change emissions, this is a conservative estimate. Global demand for beef and other ruminant meats continues to grow, rising by 25% between 2000 and 2019. During the first two decades of this century, pastureland expansion was the leading direct driver of deforestation. Continued demand growth will put pressure on forests, biodiversity and the climate. Even after accounting for improvements in beef production efficiency, pastureland could expand by an estimated 400 million hectares, an area of land larger than the size of India, between 2010 and 2050.

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Population by country, based on Gapminder data, HYDE, and UN Population Division (2019) estimates.

There has been a reluctance to integrate discussions of population into climate education and advocacy. Yet climate change is tightly linked to population growth. As the U.K.-based charity Population Matters summarizes: “Every additional person increases carbon emissions—the rich far more than the poor—and increases the number of climate change victims—the poor far more than the rich”. At the national level, there is a clear relationship between income and per capita CO2 emissions, with average emissions for people living in industrialized countries and key oil producing nations topping the charts. High-consuming lifestyles and production practices in the highest income countries result in much higher emissions rates than in middle and low-income countries, where the majority of the world’s population lives. For example, the United States represents just over 4% of the global population but accounts for 17% of the world’s energy use. Per person carbon emissions are among the highest in the world. People living in the United States, Australia, and Canada, have carbon footprints close to 200 times larger than people in some of the poorest and fastest-growing countries in sub-Saharan Africa—such as Chad, Niger, and the Central African Republic. In the middle of the spectrum are the middle-income economies, home to 75% of the world’s population. In these places, industrialization will increase standards of living and consumption patterns over the coming decades. Without changes to how economies tend to grow, carbon emissions will rise. As there is no panacea for combating climate change, a wide variety of options needs to be exercised. An integrated approach includes educating girls and empowering women to make their own decisions about reproduction. Research examining the effects of different population projections on future economic growth and energy use shows that slowing population growth can significantly reduce future greenhouse gas emissions. Incorporating various population projections into climate models shows that higher population growth results in higher emissions. For example, one study found that if the global population were to peak in mid-century and then shrink to 7.1 billion by 2100, carbon emissions could be as much as 41% lower than if the population continued to grow to 15 billion. This means that slowing population growth through rights-based innovations in reproductive health could contribute over a quarter of the emissions reductions needed by 2050 to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change. Even in scenarios of low population growth, however, carbon-intensive economic growth and technological choices can result in high emissions. Nevertheless, a growing body of research indicates that slowing global population growth through rights-based measures, such as by increasing access to voluntary family planning services, can play a key role in mitigating climate change.

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Renewables %X

Share of primary energy from renewable sources. Renewable energy sources include hydropower, solar, wind, geothermal, bioenergy, wave, and tidal. Low % is a cause of climate change and not the opposite.

In any discussion about climate change, renewable energy usually tops the list of changes the world can implement to stave off the worst effects of rising temperatures. That's because renewable energy sources such as solar and wind don't emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Clean energy has far more to recommend it than just being "green." The growing sector creates jobs, makes electric grids more resilient, expands energy access in developing countries, and helps lower energy bills. All of those factors have contributed to a renewable energy renaissance in recent years, with wind and solar setting new records for electricity generation. For the past 150 years or so, humans have relied heavily on coal, oil, and other fossil fuels to power everything from light bulbs to cars to factories. Fossil fuels are embedded in nearly everything we do, and as a result, the greenhouse gases released from the burning of those fuels have reached historically high levels. Of course, renewables—like any source of energy—have their own trade-offs and associated debates. One of them centers on the definition of renewable energy. Strictly speaking, renewable energy is just what you might think: perpetually available, or as the U.S. Energy Information Administration puts it, "virtually inexhaustible." But "renewable" doesn't necessarily mean sustainable, as opponents of corn-based ethanol or large hydropower dams often argue. It also doesn't encompass other low- or zero-emissions resources that have their own advocates, including energy efficiency and nuclear power.

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Agricultural landX

% of the country's land area. Agricultural land refers to the share of land area that is arable, under permanent crops, and under permanent pastures.

Researchers can already see the effects of climate change globally and in European soil. For example, according to the EEA’s most recent report on climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe, soil moisture has significantly decreased in the Mediterranean region and increased in parts of northern Europe since the 1950s. The report projects similar effects for the coming decades, as the rise in average temperatures continues and rainfall patterns change. Continuing declines in soil moisture can increase the need for irrigation in agriculture and lead to smaller yields and even desertification, with potentially dramatic impacts on food production. A total of 13 EU Member States have declared that they are affected by desertification. Despite this acknowledgement, a recent report by the European Court of Auditors concluded that Europe does not have a clear picture of the challenges linked to desertification and land degradation and that the steps taken to combat desertification lack coherence. Changes in seasonal temperatures can also shift the annual cycles of plants and animals, resulting in lower yields. For example, spring can arrive earlier and trees can blossom before their pollinators have hatched. With the expected population growth, world food production needs to increase rather than decrease. This hinges largely on maintaining healthy soil and managing agricultural areas sustainably. At the same time, there is a growing demand for biofuels and other plant-based products, driven by the urgent need to replace fossil fuels and prevent greenhouse gas emissions. The EEA report on impacts and vulnerability also highlights other impacts on soil related to climate change, including erosion, which can be accelerated by extreme climate events, such as intense rain, drought, heat waves and storms. In addition to causing the loss of areas of land, rising sea levels may change soil in coastal areas or bring contaminants, including salt, from the sea. In relation to land use, climate change may make some agricultural areas, mainly in the south, unusable or less productive while possibly opening up new possibilities further north. In forestry, the decline in economically valuable tree species might cut the value of forest land in Europe by between 14 and 50 % by 2100. A recent EEA report on climate change adaptation and agriculture highlights that the overall impacts of climate change could produce a significant loss for the European agricultural sector: up to 16 % loss in EU agriculture income by 2050, with large regional variations.

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Surface °C anomalyX

Surface temperature anomaly, measured in degrees celcius. The temperature anomaly is relative to the 1951-1980 global average temperature.

Surface temperature anomalies, along with Precipitation anomalies, are the main consequences of Climate Change, with other consequences being indirect impacts. Land surface temperature is how hot the “surface” of the Earth would feel to the touch in a particular location. From a satellite’s point of view, the “surface” is whatever it sees when it looks through the atmosphere to the ground. It could be snow and ice, the grass on a lawn, the roof of a building, or the treetops in a forest. Thus, land surface temperature is not the same as the air temperature. In climate change studies, temperature anomalies are more important than absolute temperature. A temperature anomaly is the difference from an average, or baseline, temperature. The baseline temperature is typically computed by averaging 30 or more years of temperature data. A positive anomaly indicates the observed temperature was warmer than the baseline, while a negative anomaly indicates the observed temperature was cooler than the baseline. When calculating an average of absolute temperatures, things like station location or elevation will have an effect on the data (ex. higher elevations tend to be cooler than lower elevations and urban areas tend to be warmer than rural areas). However, when looking at anomalies, those factors are less critical. For example, a summer month over an area may be cooler than average, both at a mountain top and in a nearby valley, but the absolute temperatures will be quite different at the two locations.

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National GDP, adjusted for inflation and for differences in the cost of living between countries.

Gross domestic product (GDP) is the total monetary or market value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period. As a broad measure of overall domestic production, it functions as a comprehensive scorecard of a given country’s economic health. The calculation of a country’s GDP encompasses all private and public consumption, government outlays, investments, additions to private inventories, paid-in construction costs, and the foreign balance of trade. (Exports are added to the value and imports are subtracted). Climate change has potential to do significant economic harm, and poses worrying tail risks. It is a global externality—one country’s emissions affect all countries by adding to the stock of heat-warming gases in the earth’s atmosphere from which warming arises. The process of climate change is set to have a significant economic impact on many countries, with a large number of lower income countries being particularly at risk. Macroeconomic policies in these countries will need to be calibrated to accommodate more frequent weather shocks, including by building policy space to respond to shocks. Infrastructure will need to be upgraded to enhance economic resilience. Elsewhere, climate change can entail significant risks to macrofinancial stability. Nonfinancial corporate sectors face risks from climate damages and stranded assets—such as coal reserves that become uneconomic with carbon pricing—and the disruption could affect corporate balance sheet quality.

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Air pollutionX

Number of deaths from air pollution is the sum of attributed deaths to both indoor and outdoor air pollution..

Air pollution is contamination of the indoor or outdoor environment by any chemical, physical or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere. Household combustion devices, motor vehicles, industrial facilities and forest fires are common sources of air pollution. Pollutants of major public health concern include particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. Outdoor and indoor air pollution cause respiratory and other diseases and are important sources of morbidity and mortality. WHO data show that almost all of the global population (99%) breathe air that exceeds WHO guideline limits and contains high levels of pollutants, with low- and middle-income countries suffering from the highest exposures. Air quality is closely linked to the earth’s climate and ecosystems globally. Many of the drivers of air pollution (i.e. combustion of fossil fuels) are also sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Policies to reduce air pollution, therefore, offer a win-win strategy for both climate and health, lowering the burden of disease attributable to air pollution, as well as contributing to the near- and long-term mitigation of climate change.

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Precipitation in millimeters per year. Precipitation is defined as any kind of water that falls from clouds as a liquid or a solid.

Climate change can affect the intensity and frequency of precipitation. Warmer oceans increase the amount of water that evaporates into the air. When more moisture-laden air moves over land or converges into a storm system, it can produce more intense precipitation—for example, heavier rain and snow storms. The potential impacts of heavy precipitation include crop damage, soil erosion, and an increase in flood risk due to heavy rains — which in turn can lead to injuries, drownings, and other flooding-related effects on health. In addition, runoff from precipitation can impair water quality as pollutants deposited on land wash into water bodies. Heavy precipitation does not necessarily mean the total amount of precipitation at a location has increased—just that precipitation is occurring in more intense events. However, changes in the intensity of precipitation, when combined with changes in the interval between precipitation events, can also lead to changes in overall precipitation totals.

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Red List IndexX

The Red List Index (RLI) defines the conservation status of major species groups, and measures trends in the proportion of species expected to remain extant in the near future without additional conservation action. An RLI value of 1.0 equates to all species being categorised as 'Least Concern', and hence that none are expected to go extinct in the near future. A value of 0 indicates that all species have gone extinct.

The Red List Index (RLI) shows trends in overall extinction risk for species, and is used by governments to track their progress towards targets for reducing biodiversity loss. In a new report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), researchers from 67 countries warned that warming is putting a large portion of the world’s biodiversity and ecosystems at risk of extinction, even under relatively conservative estimates. Never before has an IPCC report — considered the gold standard for climate science — revealed in such stark detail how climate change is harming nature. What ails wildlife ails us, the authors wrote. Humans are inextricably dependent on many species that are in jeopardy from rising temperatures, whether they’re animals that pollinate crops, filter rivers and streams, or feed us. In the US alone, for example, more than 150 crops depend on pollinators, including nearly all fruits and grains, and climate change puts them at risk. If the planet warms by 1.5 degrees Celsius — which is almost certain — up to 14 percent of all plants and animals on land will likely face a high risk of extinction, according to the report. The outlook becomes graver if temperatures rise even further; with 3 degrees of warming, for example, up to 29 percent of species on land could face extinction. In the next few decades, some plants and animals will likely experience temperatures “beyond their historical experience,” especially those that live in polar regions, the authors wrote. Even 1.2 degrees Celsius of warming — just above current levels — puts many ecosystems at risk from heatwaves, drought, and other climate extremes, they added. Climate change is likely to take a greater toll on animals that are found only in one location, known as endemic species.

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The share of individuals living below the International Poverty Line of 1.90 international-$ per day.

Climate change looms over all countries, promising severe droughts, supercharged storms, and blistering heat waves. But these consequences are unevenly felt around the world. Above all, they threaten the most vulnerable populations across the globe. As global temperatures and sea levels rise, as the oceans acidify and precipitation patterns get rearranged, people living in poverty are the most severely impacted. Since climate change affects everything from where a person can live to their access to health care, millions of people could be plunged further into poverty as environmental conditions worsen. This is especially true for poor people living in low-income countries. Just as climate change deepens inequalities within a country, it also further stratifies international relations because some nations are more threatened by it than others. And poor countries have fewer resources to deal with the problem. Coastal communities hold an estimated 37% of the global population — they’re hubs of commerce and culture, and have fueled global development. Yet, for all their historic significance, these environments could be emptied out in the decades ahead as natural disasters intensify and sea levels rise. More than 570 coastal cities could be affected by sea level rise by 2050. In that same period, as many as 1 billion people could be displaced by environmental hazards—primarily sea level rise and natural disasters. Displacement can push a person into poverty by stripping them of their home, profession, and networks. Many people who are displaced are unable to carry their former wealth into their new contexts and struggle to find work and regain their stability.

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CO2 Emissions

Fertilizer consumption

Forest area

Fossil fuels consumption

Meat production


Renewables %

Agricultural land

Surface °C anomaly


Deaths by air pollution


Red List Index