Press releases

Quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions stems from coal combustion

Published: 03/05/2016

Utrecht, The Netherlands, 3 May 2016 – Coal is the main cause of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A quarter of the global GHG emissions comes from coal combustion. This is evident from an updated version of a flow chart showing the global greenhouse gas emissions. The flow chart shows, from beginning to end, where greenhouse gases come from and how much of each gas ends up in our atmosphere.

The last update of the GHG flow chart took place in 2013, through a collaboration of Ecofys,, and ASN Bank, using data for 2010. The current version of the flow chart was created with data from 2012. In that period, the global greenhouse gas emissions grew from 48,629 megatonnes in 2010 to 51,840 megatonnes in 2012.

25% of global greenhouse gases from coal

The flow chart shows which sectors contribute to global greenhouse gas emissions the most and what the sources of their emissions are. Burning coal is the most polluting form of energy production: 25% of all greenhouse gases comes from coal. Next to industry, the built environment is responsible for a large share of emissions from coal combustion.

Industry biggest emitter

Compared to the previous flow chart, the updated version shows that CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industrial processes increased by 2% to 67% in total. Industry accounts for 29% of global CO2 emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels and industrial processes. Half of the emissions from fossil fuel combustion comes from coal. This makes industry’s emissions share the largest contribution to global warming.

Reduced deforestation

Another cause for CO2 emissions is deforestation. The flow chart shows that emissions from deforestation in 2013 amounted to almost 8%. This is a slight reduction compared to 2010, when deforestation was responsible for over 10% of total GHG emissions.

Innovative chart

The World GHG Emissions Flow Chart was originally launched in 2000 by the World Resources Institute, a leading research center for policy in the field of raw materials and the environment. For the first time, it was made clear how much greenhouse gases were actually emitted and who was responsible. Since then, the flow chart is one of the most commonly used charts to provide insights into greenhouse gases and climate change.

Graphic: World GHG Emissions Flow Chart 2012, source: ASN Bank, Ecofys

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For further information, please contact:

Ruud Stevens, ASN Bank, T: +31 (0)6 10 96 34 32, E:
Stefanie Bradtner, Ecofys, T: +44 (0)20 742 30-982, E:

ASN Bank
Since its establishment in 1960, ASN Bank has been committed to contribute to a fair and sustainable society. In all its activities, it takes into account vulnerable communities, climate, nature and the needs of future generations. Clients can pay and save at ASN Bank, invest in ASN Investment Funds and have their assets managed. The bank also provides funding for projects and organisations that align with its sustainability mission. ASN Bank is part of SNS Bank N.V. – Follow us on Twitter: @asnbank


Ecofys – Experts in Energy
Established in 1984 with the mission of achieving “sustainable energy for everyone”, Ecofys has become the leading expert in renewable energy, energy & carbon efficiency, energy systems & markets as well as energy & climate policy. The unique synergy between those areas of expertise is the key to its success. Ecofys creates smart, effective, practical and sustainable solutions for and with public and corporate clients all over the world. With offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and the United Kingdom, Ecofys employs over 200 experts dedicated to solving energy and climate challenges.          
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