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Carbon footprints


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Human activities have an impact on the environment - this impact can be measured as an emission of carbon dioxide. Find out how average emissions differ depending on where you live.

Measuring the impact of carbon dioxide on the environment

A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact our activities have on the environment. It calculates the greenhouse gases we are expected to produce in all our activities and measures them in units of carbon dioxide. The world average is about 4,000 kg of carbon dioxide per person per year. In the UK it is nearly 10,000 kg per person per year.

This pie chart shows what contributes to the carbon footprint of a typical person living in an MEDC.

Pie chart showing a break down of a typical persons footprint in a MEDC

Pie chart showing a break down of a typical persons footprint in a MEDC

As a country develops its carbon footprint tends to increase. This pattern is shown in the graph below, with MEDCs [MEDC: A More Economically Developed Country (MEDC) has high levels of development based on economic indicators such as gross domestic product (the country's income). ] emitting the most carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide emissions in tonnes per capita (per person)

United Arab Emirates29.432.8
United States19.019.0
United Kingdom10.09.4
South Africa9.18.6
Sierra Leone0.10.2
A bar chart of the 2006 CO2 emission figures

A bar chart of the 2006 CO2 emission figures


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