The Global Historical Emissions Map is a gridded dataset of global emissions from fossil-fuel burning, cement production and gas flaring from 1750 until 2010. It is available at a 5’ resolution (5’ = 1/12th of a degree) globally.

This dataset is a map of carbon dioxide emissions weighted by population distribution over time. As such, it allows the construction of a clear visualization illustrating both the respective historical responsibilities of each regions of the world in the total amount of carbon emitted, and the progressive extension of the industrial revolution over the past 250 years.

What is a gridded dataset?

A gridded dataset is a grid of cells that covers the entire globe, with one value of a given parameter for each cell. Such datasets are routinely produced for population, land-use, temperature, and now historical carbon dioxide emissions.

The resolution of the grid is usually defined is degrees, minutes or seconds of latitude and longitude. The Global Historical Emissions Map has a resolution of 5’, which is 1/12th of a degree. This means that each cell has a width of 5’ of longitude by a height of 5’ of latitude. At the equator, this roughly corresponds to a 10km by 10km cell. The dimensions of cells decrease as one moves away from the equator, and thus the grid becomes more precise at one gets closer to either of the poles.

Source data

This new dataset is built using three distinct existing databases.

Emissions data is taken from the CDIAC dataset of historical national carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel burning, cement production and gas flaring. As such, it does not cover all GHG (notably it does not include methane), nor does it consider all sources of CO2, such as LULUCF (Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry).

This emissions data is combined with population data from the EDGAR/HYDE project. I used the latest dataset available, version 3.1. The HYDE project has built decadal global gridded population datasets dating back to the early 17th century, with a resolution of 5’.

Finally, one needs to know to which country each of the cells in the grid belongs. To this end, I have used the National Identifier Grid included in the Gridded Population of the World project, which is produced by the Socioeonomic Data and Applications Center of NASA.


Boden, T.A., G. Marland, and R.J. Andres. 2015. Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emissions. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tenn., U.S.A.

Center for International Earth Science Information Network - CIESIN - Columbia University, and Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical - CIAT. 2005. Gridded Population of the World, Version 3 (GPWv3): National Identifier Grid. Palisades, NY: NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC). Accessed 4 December 2015.

Klein Goldewijk, K. , A. Beusen, and P. Janssen (2010). Long term dynamic modeling of global population and built-up area in a spatially explicit way, HYDE 3 .1. The Holocene20(4):565-573.