What Is the Average Carbon Footprint Per Person?

Written by tom king
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What Is the Average Carbon Footprint Per Person?
Wind and solar power advocates hope to reduce America's carbon footprint significantly. (pollution image by flavien minne from Fotolia.com)

The term "carbon footprint" refers to the estimated amount of carbon pollution a person generates over a specific time period--usually a year. The number claims to include pollution generated by everything from driving a car to breathing.

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Components

Environmentalists, government agencies and scientists figure the per capita carbon footprint of a nation based on total population of the country, its gross domestic product (GDP), estimated CO2 emissions, electricity use and heat output.

Calculation

The calculation requires numbers for GDP, electricity use and heat output, assigns a CO2 estimated emissions figure to each unit of measure for these numbers, totals them and divides by the total population of the country to get an average carbon output in metric tons per person.

The Footprint

The World Factbook lists the top five per capita carbon producers in 2005 as Gibraltar with 42.48 metric tons per citizen followed by the Virgin Islands, Qatar, Netherlands Antilles and Bahrain with ranging to a low of 9.98 tons. Australia, the United States and Canada come in at 5.52, 5.49 and 5.24 metric tons respectively. On the low end, Burundi, Cambodia, Congo, Afghanistan and Chad share the bottom of the list at .01 metric tons per person.

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