The Average British Person Produces More Carbon Emissions In Two Weeks Than Some Africans Do In A Year


Ben Taub


Ben Taub

Freelance Writer

Benjamin holds a Master's degree in anthropology from University College London and has worked in the fields of neuroscience research and mental health treatment.

Freelance Writer


Carbon emissions in western countries like the UK and the US dwarf those in many African nations. Image: Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock

We’re less than a week into January, but the average British citizen has already racked up a bigger carbon footprint for 2020 than a typical Rwandan will across the entire year, according to Oxfam.

Using data collected by the Global Carbon Atlas, the UK-based charity says that by January 12, a person living in Britain can expect to have surpassed the annual emissions of someone from Burkina Faso, as well as those from Ethiopia, Guinea, Madagascar, Malawi, and Uganda. Danny Sriskandarajah, chief executive of Oxfam GB, has commented that “the sheer scale of global inequality when it comes to carbon emissions is staggering,” The Independent reports.

In 2017, the UK produced a total of 387 megatons of carbon dioxide emissions, which equates to 8.34 tonnes per person. By comparison, emissions from African countries like Kenya and Zimbabwe came in at less than 1 tonne of carbon dioxide per person. The biggest single producer of carbon emissions that year was China, with a total of 9,839 megatons, while the US ranked second, producing 5,271 megatons of carbon dioxide.

In June of this year, the UK government became the first in the world to commit to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, although a subsequent report by its Committee on Climate Change suggested that the country was far from on track to meet this ambitious target. According to the report, the UK is unlikely even to meet its more immediate aims of cutting emissions by 51 percent by 2025 and 57 percent by 2030 unless “urgent” action is taken. The authors have urged the government to invest in schemes that will encourage a reduction in household emissions, which are the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases. For example, they propose cutting the cost of low-carbon electricity, which is currently more expensive than electricity from fossil fuels, as well as cash incentives for people who switch to renewable heating systems.

While many people in the UK and worldwide are waking up to the need to change some elements of their lifestyle – such as eating less meat and flying less – much of the responsibility for solving the climate crisis rests with governments, who must commit to green policies if we are to avoid catastrophe.


  • tag
  • climate change,

  • global warming,

  • Africa,

  • greenhouse gases,

  • carbon emissions,

  • UK,

  • Oxfam