Posted by: Peter Black | December 16, 2008

U.S. CO2 Emissions by County

U.S. Fossil Fuel CO2 Emissions by County

Map 1 (Interactive):
CO2 Emissions – Total and Per Capita

usco2 - Developed

Recently I had been asked about generating a per capita map of fossil fuel based carbon dioxide emissions for the US as a follow up to a previous post that showed total carbon dioxide emissions per county.

The two maps differ greatly. The total map looks very similar to a population map, which one might expect. The per capita map in general shows that our urban areas are more efficient in their energy usage. Which message is right? Well, fortunately, my esteemed colleague Lisa Moore happened to be in our lovely San Francisco offices today, so I posed the question to her.

“How about showing both on one map?” She opined.

Good idea!

Now, we happen to be in test mode here at EDF. Testing out all kinds of new map publishing software for the web, seeing what’s effective, easy to use, informative, and what is not. So I ran a test on a flash based platform called Geoclip, a French company that specialized in Flash based interactive mapping software. I really like what it can do, though I’d like to simplify the interface a bit. As of now, there’s a lot of ways to play with the interface and data. All I ask of you is that you check this puppy out, play around a bit, and then comment back here about what you like, and what you didn’t.

You must have adobe flash player 9 on your browser to make this work. If you don’t have it, you’ll be prompted to download it, which I urge you to do.

Let the map completely load before you begin to play. You should see a yellow to red background map of counties with black dots of various sizes overlaid on top.

When you scroll around the map, you will get data on how much CO2 that county emits, along with the per capita values. The data comes from the Vulcan Project, a wonderful resource out of Purdue University.



  1. Peter, thanks for sharing this. You’re right that the interface is extremely powerful…and could benefit from some more simplicity.

    A tip for others who are exploring the map — to zoom back out, use the “reframe” button, the rectangle to the right of the zoom button. And you can pan around on the map without re-zooming by using the little hand tool.

  2. Thanks Kira! Once you get used to the interface, it seems a lot easier to me…though I completely agree: the learning curve is too steep.

    One thing I like about this is the ability for users to print the map…something not available on many other interfaces currently. In addition, if you click the print button, you can annotate the map with text, shapes (perhaps you want to outline the Houston area for example), and then print it!

  3. The site should make clear that the emissions are limited to fossil emissions and exclude land use and forestry emissions which are significant in some heavily logged counties like mine (Lane County, Oregon).

  4. Thanks Doug, that’s a good point. Do you know of any databases that summarize emissions from land use/forestry for the entire us at the county level?

  5. Is there any similar map for Ontario, Canada. The province may be on board(sort of) but I believe that the federal gov’t is vacillating in the worst way. That leaves the responsibility with individual citizens,,, I would like to be able to take my own measures and to know how to measure the rest of my community, to find the cap…

  6. GREAT MAP!! GREAT IDEA!! Can you give me any data on Puerto Rico? It would be greatly aprreciated!
    I wasn’t able to find Puerto Rico’s data in either this data set nor in the global country by country map. Lots of gaps out there, sorry! – Peter

  7. I’m surprised how low the per capita emissions are for my region (Eastern Kentucky), considering the heavy reliance on coal here.
    I’m a bit surprised too Mark. Any thoughts on that? – Peter

  8. Im looking for a recent report on the Impact of CO2 and how to mitigate it. Assuming it’s available, if some could send me a link to that report (s).

    A. Basu

  9. nice work EDF; but you guys need to do same for africa. also there are things you guys are not getting right.i need to talk with yarnold and parry

  10. Peter, I love the maps, but I agree that they could have a more intuitive user interface and more aesthetically pleasing map display. You might be able to achieve both with GeoCommons,

  11. I’m curious as to whether the data is all-inclusive of every source of emissions or restrcited to the town’s public utilities (aka does it include the emissions for every individual?) I’m trying to compare my town’s carbon footprint and I’m only reporting the emissions of the town’s buildings, vehicles and streetlights. Is there a way of finding out just these emissions throughout the counties?

  12. hi,

    looking at your numbers, it looks like you are using 2000 Census numbers to do per capita calculations, am I correct?

    now, are you using 2000 Co2 emission data or more recent estimates? considering significant population shifts, the map may be off? I could not find the Co2 numbers on the EIA website- could you clarify the sources please? college student working on a project here : )

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