Which countries have emitted the most greenhouse gases? The quick answer is, "It depends."

A more definitive response is tougher than you may expect. Many factors inform the answer. What time frame are you considering? Do you want to count cumulative emissions of a country over a long period of time, or only look at current annual emissions? And do you include emissions and removals from things like land use change and forestry? Or perhaps you want to know whether and when a country's emissions have peaked?

The five visuals below help answer this question, taking into account each of these different factors. All of the visuals were created using data from the powerful Climate Watch platform.

Top Emitters Remain Dominant—With a Few Notable Changes

Chart 5: Greenhouse gas emission peak dates and country-level emissions. Visualization developed by Carbon Brief and peak dates based on the WRI Turning Points report. Note: Country emissions from 1990-2015 based on date from PIK and UNFCCC.

Some major emitting countries like the U.K., France, Brazil, Spain and Canada have been able to sustain their economic growth and at the same time peak or even decrease their level of emissions. The fact that a quarter of all countries' emissions have peaked their emissions is encouraging. Peaking is just the first step towards making deep, rapid emission reductions necessary to achieve an emissions trajectory consistent with long term low carbon future. Countries must make and achieve commitments to peak their emissions as soon as possible, set their peaks at lower emissions levels, and commit to a significant rate of emissions decline after peaking.

This is just a taste of the climate data you can explore and draw insights from on Climate Watch. We encourage you to visit the platform yourself and see what you discover.