Which countries pollute the most? We look at the biggest polluters in the G7 as leaders meet in Cornwall

G7 countries are some of the wealthiest in the world – and some of the most polluting.

This week, members of the Group of Seven (G7 ) have gathered in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, to discuss the greatest challenges facing the world today - namely the climate crisis and recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Leaders from these countries have expressed huge ambitions with regards to tackling global warming, with many aiming for net zero emissions in the coming decades.

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Despite being some of the wealthiest countries in the world, the G7 are also currently some of the biggest polluters on Earth.

In spite of commitments to net zero in the coming decades, G7 countries are still investing in fossil fuels.

The countries are responsible for almost a quarter of global CO2 emissions in spite of representing just a tenth of the population.

This is how the G7 countries stack up against each other on CO2 emissions, what industries are responsible and the progress they’ve made in bringing them down.

The following data is from 2019 and is sourced from Our World in Data, which derives its figures from the Global Carbon Project, Gapminder and the UN.

The US

In 2019, the US emitted 5.28bn tonnes of CO2, putting it head and shoulders above the other G7 countries. The majority of these emissions are produced by burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat and transportation.

Out of all the G7 countries, however, the US saw the largest reduction in emissions in 2019, down 140.1bn tonnes when compared to 2018.

According to data from 2017, the US is responsible for around 15% of global CO2 emissions.


Though far below the emissions produced by the US, Japan is the second most polluting G7 country, emitting around 1.1bn tonnes of CO2 in 2019.

In Japan, CO2 emissions are dominated by the burning of fossil fuels for energy production, and industrial production of materials such as cement.

Between 2018 and 2019, Japan reduced its CO2 emissions by 29 million tonnes. In 2017, it was responsible for just over 3% of global emissions.

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Around 755.3 million tonnes of CO2 were produced by Germany in 2019, making it the third most-polluting G7 country.

Similarly to Japan, Germany’s emissions are largely created by fossil fuel use for energy and the production of materials like cement.

In 2019, it reduced its CO2 output by 53.4 million tonnes. In 2017, it was responsible for just over 2% of global emissions.


In fourth place is Canada, which produced 576.6 million tonnes of CO2 in 2019, and, according to 2017 data, was responsible for 1.6% of global emissions.

Canada saw one of the smallest reductions in CO2 emissions between 2018 and 2019, of 9.85 million tonnes.

The oil and gas industry is Canada's leading greenhouse gas emitter, with emissions from the transportation sector a close second.

The UK

In the UK, 380.1 million tonnes of CO2 were produced in 2019, putting the country in fifth place out of the G7 on emissions.

Between 2018 and 2019, the UK reduced CO2 emissions by 10.2 per cent. In 2017, the country was responsible for just over 1% of CO2 emissions.

The main source of CO2 emissions in the UK is the use of fossil fuels for energy, in spite of a move in recent years towards renewable energy sources.


In Italy, around 337 million tonnes of CO2 were emitted in 2019, while in 2017 the country was responsible for just under 1% of global CO2 output.

The country reduced this output by 11 million tonnes between 2018 and 2019.

Like many other countries, the use of fossil fuels for energy and materials production is responsible for the largest part of emissions.


With an output of 323.7 million tonnes of CO2 in 2019, France had the lowest emissions out of the G7 in 2019.

However, their reduction in CO2 emissions between 2018 and 2019 was the lowest of the G7 countries, with a decline of just 7.98 million tonnes.

Like Italy, the country was responsible for just under 1% of global CO2 emissions in 2017.