The World’s Top 5 Polluters and What They’re Doing About It

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

There are still a few people in the world who dispute the existence of climate change, and even more who doubt that it is down to human activity. The vast majority of nations, however, accept that CO2 emissions are a problem and have voiced concern.
But, as always in human endeavor, talk is cheap.

Actually doing something to control greenhouse gas emissions puts countries at a huge economic disadvantage. As long as coal and oil are the cheapest energy sources, unilaterally attempting to reduce their use could have a disastrous effect on a country’s competitiveness. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has released a report that estimates new Environmental Protection Agency regulations designed to cut U.S. emissions will cost $50 billion per year.

Yet despite the cost, the world’s biggest polluters are beginning to act. offers a free  widget that shows CO2 emissions by country so far in 2014. Using that data the top five global polluters are, in order of highest first: China, the U.S., India, Russia, and Japan. Each government is doing something to control pollution, with mixed results.

1. China: It is no surprise that China leads the pack in emissions, accounting for over 25 percent of the total CO2 added to the atmosphere so far this year. Given the pictures we’ve all seen of Chinese cities shrouded in smog, it is also no surprise that Beijing is trying to do something about it. As I outlined here, China is determined to reduce the cost of solar power so as to make it a viable alternative to coal, and has invested vast amounts in other alternative energy technologies. The fact that it has taken these steps demonstrates one of the advantages of a command economy. The fact that it seems to be failing, however, demonstrates one of the disadvantages; the economy, and therefore energy usage, is growing faster than any 10-year plan can account for.