Welcome to Unequalcarbonfootprints.org

epa greenhouse gas emissions

Climate change is large problem, but the responsibility for emissions is highly unequal. This is a simple web tool for you to compare your own "carbon footprint" with some of the largest emitters in the United States. While much political and policy attention focuses on the individual actions of consumers like you and me, it is important to recognize the bulk of emissions are generated by the industrial sector operated by very large and profitable corporations. As seen in the chart, the industrial sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. If we are going to solve climate change, we should start by thinking about how to reform the behaviors of these actors first.

All electricity-based emissions are distributed to their respective sectors. Note the industrial sector is the largest overall emitter in the supposedly "post-industrial" United States. So how much of these emissions can be attributed to individual consumers like you and me? Since 61% of transportation sector emissions are from light duty passenger vehicles and trucks, we can roughly estimate 16.1% of transportation's 26.4% is from individual consumers. Add that to the 16.6% from the residential sector (mainly for heating), and individuals are only responsible for 32.7% of emissions in the United States. That's a lot, but it's less than a third and certainly not everything we need to focus our political/policy attention on.

steel plant United States Steel Corporation Plant Gary, Indiana, 1973