Indiana Produces 7th Most CO2 Emissions Per Capita the in U.S.

As the effects of climate change become more severe, policymakers worldwide are increasingly focused on how to limit greenhouse gas emissions, slow the pace of climate change, and mitigate climate risks.

World leaders met in Glasgow last November for the latest United Nations climate conference, with the aim of setting new, more aggressive targets to reduce emissions and combat warming. The conference produced a number of pledges to accomplish this goal, including agreements to phase down the use of fossil fuels for energy.

In the U.S., limiting carbon emissions has been a major goal in the first year of President Joe Biden’s administration. A $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by Congress and signed into law in November included major new investments in the electric grid and clean energy, electric vehicle charging stations, and enhanced rail and public transportation systems to reduce emissions. The Biden Administration has also used other means to establish emissions reductions as a priority, including a broad pledge to cut the nation’s emissions by 2030 and an executive order outlining specific steps the federal government will take to reduce its carbon footprint.

Strong U.S. action to reduce carbon emissions is critical to reducing emissions worldwide. As the world’s largest economy, the U.S. is one of the top producers of carbon emissions. The U.S. generates 5.1 billion tons of CO2 in total each year, behind only China at 11.1 billion. The U.S. also ranks second in carbon emissions on a per capita basis, with emissions of 15.6 tons of CO2, trailing Canada’s 17.8 tons of CO2 per capita.

While the U.S. remains among the top emitters worldwide, CO2 emissions have been trending downward over time. Total CO2 emissions reached a peak of around 6 billion tons in 2007, but annual emissions have declined by almost 1 billion tons per year since. Per capita emissions have shown a similar decline over the same period, even despite continued U.S. population and GDP growth over that period.

States in the U.S. contribute different amounts to these totals depending on factors like population, economic makeup, and government policy. Larger states like Texas and California tend to have the highest emissions on an absolute basis, but in some states this is mitigated at the per capita level by greater reliance on clean energy or policies like emissions targets. In contrast, many of the top states for carbon emissions on a per capita basis have both low populations and economies that rely heavily on fossil fuel, including Wyoming, North Dakota, and West Virginia.

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the U.S. Census Bureau. To determine the states with the largest carbon footprint, researchers at calculated per capita annual CO2 emissions. In the event of a tie, the state with the higher total annual CO2 emissions was ranked higher.

The analysis found that at an annual 28.2 tons per person, Indiana produces the 7th most carbon emissions per capita in the U.S. each year.

Here is a summary of the data for Indiana:

  • Per capita annual CO2 emissions (tons): 28.2
  • Total annual CO2 emissions (tons): 188,800,000
  • Sector that emits the most CO2: Electric Power
  • Fuel that emits the most CO2: Coal

For reference, here are the statistics for the entire United States:

  • Per capita annual CO2 emissions (tons): 15.6
  • Total annual CO2 emissions (tons): 5,144,360,777
  • Sector that emits the most CO2: Transportation

Fuel that emits the most CO2: Petroleum