Scientists from the JRC Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES) have made it possible to visualise the distribution of GHG emissions all over the world at local level through an add-on layer to Google Earth. Their grid size is a tenth of a geographical degree of latitude by the same extension in longitude, or simplified, a circa 10 km x 10 km square, roughly the size of central Paris. Data used in the visualisation come from JRC and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency's (PBL) Emission Database for Global Research (EDGAR), and its dataset released in May this year (EDGAR v4.0).

This application brings environmental information closer to the world's citizens. By simply entering a city name, the amount of greenhouse gases released since 1970 can be visualized. In addition, the main sources of GHG emissions in the year 2005 can be identified: industries (fuel combustion, process and waste emissions in energy and manufacturing industries); transport (road, rail, shipping); residential fuel combustion and waste handling; and agriculture.

On a large scale, the visualisation shows how emissions are unevenly distributed over the globe, even within countries and the different evolution of emissions in the world over time.

For instance, it is highlighted that in large parts of the globe, global man-made emissions in areas of 10x10 kms is less than 1 kton of CO2 equivalents (in Siberia, for instance), while in some countries the combination of high density population and large industries results in area values of more than 250 kton per year (e.g. Netherlands, Japan or Singapore).

This set of visual data provides a unique history of 35 years (1970-2005) of emissions by area and sector, covering not only carbon dioxide (CO2) but also GHGs: methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). For comparison purposes, the individual gases have been converted into CO2-equivalents. This temporal overview allows for instance to check how emissions grow strongly over time in India and China.

The application was recently presented during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen, at the EU Pavilion.


Emissions by country and sector are taken from EDGAR v4.0, which uses the latest scientific information and data from international statistics on energy production and consumption, industrial manufacturing, agricultural production, waste treatment, and disposal and burning of biomass. Results shown for the 10x10 kms areas are modelled, based on spatial datasets such as location of energy and manufacturing facilities, road networks, shipping routes, human and animal population density and agricultural land use.

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