Ten Key Climate Indicators

With global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions once again on the rise, there is a renewed sense of urgency to reduce emissions and limit climate change. At the same time, economic development remains extremely uneven across the globe with regard to access to energy, food and healthcare. As a result, solutions have to address both of these challenges to achieve continued yet sustainable development. The ten indicators below illustrate this relationship.

Dix indicateurs-clés relatifs à la question climatique

1 – Global (CO2) Emissions Trends

After three stable years, carbon dioxide carbon dioxide (co₂)Along with water vapor, carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas (GHG) in the Earth's atmosphere... emissions are on the rise again.



Rise in emissions (energy-related)


 + 0,6 %




 +1,5 (forecast)


 +2 % (forecast)


According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)Body established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988... , to avoid an average temperature rise of more than 1.5°C by 2100, emissions must be reduced 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050.

2 – Emissions Trends Over 25 Years by Country

China’s energy-related carbon emissions have more than tripled in the last 25 years, while Europe’s have been reduced by one-fifth1.



 2015/1990 change


 +330 %


 +290 %

 United States

 +4 %


  -20 %


China has begun to curb its increasing emissions and has committed to reducing them by “around 2030”. Even with Europe’s decrease in emissions, reductions fall significantly short of achieving the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

3 – Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentration

After three stable years (2014-2016), greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise again2.

Carbon dioxide concentration reached 403 ppmDimensionless quantity representing 10-6 (1 to 1 million). This proportion can be used for both weight (mass) and volume... in 2016.

Carbon dioxide concentration is not the same as CO2 emissions. It indicates how much carbon remains in the atmosphere after interactions with the air, biosphere and oceans. About one quarter of total CO2 emissions are absorbed by the oceans and another quarter by the biosphere. Since the 1980s, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have increased steadily, exceeding 400 ppm in 2014. The IPCC has estimated that this figure needs to stabilize at an average of 450 ppm.

If levels continue to increase at the current rate, this threshold will be reached by 2045.

4 - Temperature

  • The average global temperature is currently advancing by 0.2°C per decade.
  • It has already risen by around 1°C since pre-industrial times (1850 by convention).
  • At current emissions rates, the average global temperature will have increased by 1.5°C by between 2030 and 2052, and 3°C by 2100.

5 – Sea Levels

Sea levels rose by an average of 1.7 millimeters per year between 1901 and 2010.

However, between 1993 and 2010 this rate increased to 3.2 millimeters per year.

6 – Major Differences Across Countries and Regions

1 billion: The number of people worldwide still without access to electricity in 2017.

Even though total emissions are compared among multiple countries, it is important to remember that these levels are associated with often very different populations.



 Emissions in Gt CO2See Carbon Dioxid

 Metric tons of CO2 per capita




 Unites States


















7 – Access to Electricity

Greenhouse gasGas with physical properties that cause the Earth's atmosphere to warm up. There are a number of naturally occurring greenhouse gases... emissions reflect energy consumption and therefore growth. However, development remains very uneven, with 1 billion people worldwide living without access to electricityForm of energy resulting from the movement of charged particles (electrons) through a conductor... 3. Some examples illustrating this point are provided below.



Acces to electricity in 1990

 In 2016

 World (average)

 71,4 %

  87,4 %


 92,2 %

 100,0 %


 43,3 %

  84,5 %

 South Africa

 59,3 %

  84,2 %


  0,3 %

  7,6 %


 61,7 %

  97,6 %


 66,8 %

  81,8 %

8 – Food Needs

Farming and ranching are responsible for 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions (11% from crop farming, ranching and rice farming; 10% from changes in land use, mainly due to deforestation; and 3% from forest and peat fires).

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the absolute number of undernourished people, i.e., those facing chronic food deprivation, increased to nearly 821 million in 2017, from around 804 million in 2016.

Solutions include preserving land and forests as carbon sinks, producing renewable materials and energy, and promoting agroecology.

9 – Coal’s Continued Dominance

Although coalCoal is ranked by its degree of transformation or maturity, increasing in carbon content from... produces the most greenhouse gas emissions of all the energy sources, it continues to dominate electricity production4. Its share in the powerIn physics, power is the amount of energy supplied by a system per unit time. In simpler terms, power can be viewed as energy output... generation mix has remained steady for 30 years and there is no reason to believe its use will drop any time soon, either in the United States or in Asia.






 37,5 %

 38,3 %


 17,5 %

 16,6 %


 16 %

 10,4 %


 15 %

 23,1 %


 11,5 %

 3,7 %



 7,9 %


10 – E.U. Objectives

By 2030, the European Union aims to have achieved the following objectives5 :

The European Commission advocates carbon neutrality by 2050.


Sources : 

(1) Source AIE

(2) Carbon dioxide concentration is measured in parts per million (ppm). A figure of 403 ppm means that for every million molecules in the atmosphere, 403 are carbon dioxide.

(4) AIE