Charts of the Week: Tackling climate change

Global emissions by sector

COP25, the global UN climate conference, concludes today in Madrid. Brookings experts have contributed their analysis and expertise to understanding a wide range of climate-related issues and solutions. Here’s a recent sample.

All global regions need to reduce emissions

Since the mid-19th century, the United States and Europe have been responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions. Over the last 30 years, China, India, and other rising nations have started to increase their share of emissions. In a joint report from The Hamilton Project and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, the authors write that: “it seems likely that in order to avert the worst effects of climate change, emissions reduction efforts will be required by both historic contributors—the United States and Europe—as well as more recently developing countries such as China and India.”

Share of cumulative CO2 emissions

Climate change: The toughest political issue

Senior Fellow Elaine Kamarck writes that “in spite of the evidence at hand, climate change remains the toughest, most intractable political issue we, as a society, have ever faced.” In her review of public opinion data, she notes that  about a third to a half of the public believes that the seriousness of global warming is “generally exaggerated.”


In their report, “Accelerating the low carbon transition,” launched at COP25 in Madrid, authors David Victor, Frank Geels, and Simon Sharpe examine 10 of the highest emitting sectors in the global economy.” Each of the main emitting sectors of the global economy,” they write, “is distinct in its political economy, its high and low carbon technologies, its financing structures and industrial composition, and the nature and extent of its international connectedness.”

Global emissions by sector