What? New York emissions are lower than Germany?

A look at how we rank states in the Race to Zero Carbon.

chat Posted Dec 03, 2016 by Rezwan | Category : Performance Profile
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Photo by Todd Quackenbush

Data Consistency

Note: The World Bank data is for 2013 and puts US emissions at 16.4 Metric Tons per person. The US State data in the table below is from 2014 and puts US emissions at 17.04 MT.

At this time, the inconsistency is not critical to our discussion. The data is sufficient to provide a general picture and illustrate key points.

As the race gains momentum, we will need greater consistency with up-to-date and complete information. 

Call to Action:
Join the Scoreboard committee to help design the ultimate, up to date, accurate scoreboard to support the Race to Zero Carbon.

Check out the World Bank data on “CO2 emissions (metric tons per capita)”. It says Germany emits 9.2 metric tons of CO2 per person and the United States emits 16.4 metric tons per person. (“Per capita” means “per person”).

Since we are racing to zero, lower numbers are better.

9.2 is less than 16.4, so Germany is way ahead of the US.


When you break the US down into STATES, it gets more interesting.

As you see in the Table below the State of California emits 9.26 Metric tons per person, which is on par with Germany. New York emits 8.61 metric tons, which is LOWER than Germany.

That’s right! Our #1 and #2 best ranked states are meeting and beating “green” Germany!

Not So Fast!

You may be saying.

Who cares about emissions per person/capita. In this table, Texas is ranked #1, California is ranked #2. New York is #9. And that’s highest “Annual CO2 emissions” for the state, which means worst states. 

Given that most folks rank Texas, California and New York as #1, #2 and #9 worst emissions, Why do we say NY and CA are #1 and #2 best?

First, let me commend you on paying attention to tables. You rock! 

Second, you’re right. New York and California are not the best if you rank by Total State Emissions.

But we don’t do that.

In the Race to Zero Carbon, we rank States by Emissions per Person. This makes a big difference.

We don’t do this randomly. We put a lot of thought into it. Do you agree with our ranking system? Or do you think we should rank by total emissions? Click here for our explanation of why we choose to rank by “Emissions per Person”.

Coming soon: Emissions per Person, Emoji edition

Pictured below are “Emissions per Person” emojis to scale for New York and Texas. Which is which? Circle your answer!


Would you like to download a worksheet where you have to connect the emoji to the state? Let us know in the comments.

States, Players & Specialized Teams
Emissions Per Person

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