Cumulative CO2 emissions calculator

Posted In: Environment

CO2 emissions are the primary contributor to our current ‘climate crisis’. Because of buildup of heat-trapping nature of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, temperatures are rising and weather and precipitation patterns are changing. Changes in climate will have profound impacts on both natural systems and our human landscapes.

Significant emissions of CO2 really started in the industrial revolution. This is when humans really started using significant quantities of non-renewable energy sources, mainly fossil fuels such as coal and later natural gas and oil. The increase in the burning of hydrocarbon energy sources for powering factories and transportation lead to growing CO2 emissions. The following graph shows the annual emissions of CO2 since 1750, before the start of the industrial revolution. In this period of 269 years, humans have emitted 1600 billion tonnes of CO2 (1600 gigatonnes). One incredible fact is that due to rapid growth in population and energy use per capita over time, we are emitting more and more CO2 each year and that humans have emitted as much in the last 28 years than in the 240 years prior to that.

Calculate CO2 emissions since <insert date>



  • The interactive visualization lets you enter any year between 1750 and 2021 and it will show the relative proportion of human CO2 before and after that year.
  • You can also use the left and right arrow keys to change the year up and down
  • If you hover over the graph you can see the annual and cumulative emission for each individual year in the graph
  • If you want to share the visualization with a specific year highlighted, you can add the following to the URL “?yr=yyyy” where yyyy is the four digit year (e.g.


    The global median age is around 30 years old (i.e. half the people on earth were born after 1989). This means that more than half of the earth’s population has seen the global cumulative CO2 emissions double in their lifetime. Also very striking is that in my children’s lifetimes (around a decade), humanity has added nearly 1/5 of all human produced CO2 ever to the atmosphere.

    Notes: Emissions are in units of gigatonnes of CO2. To convert to gigatons of carbon, another common unit of measuring carbon emissions, divide by 3.666.

    Data source and Tools
    Annual emissions data is from the Global Carbon Project. The data is processed in javascript and plotted using the open-source, javascript plotting library, Plotly.

    Historical CO2 emissions

    1 Comment »

  • One Response to Cumulative CO2 emissions calculator

    1. Stijn says:

      It would be fun if there is an animation

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