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Carbon Brief


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Social Studies, Earth and Space Sciences, History

Resource Type

  • Videos, 1 minute

Regional Focus



YouTube Video

Which Countries Are Historically Responsible for Climate Change?

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  • This quick video shows an animated bar graph of the top ten carbon-emitting countries through time and their various emissions from the year 1851 to 2021. 
  • It demonstrates the historic and cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide, allowing students to observe clear trends in emissions over the years by different nations. 
Teaching Tips


  • Students can practice their graph analysis skills by describing the trends they notice in carbon emissions, over time by country. 
  • This video could be a great introduction to discussing human impact on climate and having students generate observations and questions. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with reading bar graphs. 
  • The data does not begin at the start of industrialization, but the earlier data can be found using Our World in Data resources.


  • To dig deeper into this resource, students can review the article about the analysis on Carbon Brief's website.
  • History classes could incorporate this video into lessons about the Industrial Revolution or world history topics from the 1700s to the present day.
  • In an English language arts or science class, have students generate a list of questions as they watch the video (watching a few times through or on a slower speed may be helpful). Then have students work in pairs to research and answer one of the questions they have. 
  • Other resources related to this topic include: Who is Responsible for Climate Change?- Who Needs to Fix it? and Energy Use Per Person.
Scientist Notes
This video from Carbon Brief illustrates which countries have been the most responsible for emitting carbon dioxide since 1850 and is up-to-date as of 2021. This resource is recommended for teaching.
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