A Brief History of CO2 Emissions An animated short film on greenhouse gas emissions

Together with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), we developed an animated short movie that visualizes the history of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions – and also the possible future.



Greenhouse gas emissions are one of the driving forces behind climate change. In our short film “A Brief History of CO2 Emissions”, we visualize the geographic distribution and the historic dimension of carbon dioxide emissions.

By combining data from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) and the baseline projections of CO2 emissions by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), we were able to visualize the CO2 emissions from 1751 to 2100 on a highly detailed geographical level.

Our aim was to make the relationship between CO2 emissions and global warming comprehensible to the general public. Essential to our film is the concept of an emissions budget. At the 2015 UN Climate Conference in Paris it was agreed to keep global warming to well below two degrees Celsius. In order to achieve this goal, we can only emit a limited amount of CO2 into the atmosphere. Ultimately, we have to reduce the CO2 emissions to zero.

Animated information graphics and data visualizations were used to illustrate the complexity of the topic.

The Films:

A Brief History of CO2 Emissions (English Version)

Eine kurze Geschichte der CO2-Emissionen (German Version)



A Brief History of CO2 Emissions

A film by the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam (FHP) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
Design and Production: Julian Braun
Concept: Julian Braun, Jürgen Claus, Susanne Droege, Elmar Kriegler, Boris Müller und Mareike Schodder

Creative Lead: Boris Müller (FHP)
Scientific Lead: Elmar Kriegler (PIK)

Music: Leo Brunnsteiner
Voice: Andy Bramhill (EN), Sabahattin Cakiral (GER)
Sound Design: Manfred Bauche
Data Research: Lavinia Baumstark

A project by the
Gesellschaft der Freunde & Förderer der Fachhochschule Potsdam e.V.

Supported by the Lottery Fund of the Ministry of Rural Development, Environment and Agriculture of the Federal State of Brandenburg (MRDEA)


CO2 Emissions from Fossil Fuel Burning and Cement Manufacture 1751-2013
Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC), DOI: 10.3334/CDIAC/ffe.ndp058.2016

Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2010
International Energy Agency (IEA), CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion (2012 Edition), http://data.iea.org

Joint Research Centre (JRC) and PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR), Release Version 4.2 FT2010, 2013, http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu

21st Century Baseline projection of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes
Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2050 in a 2 Degree Scenario
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), REMIND-MAgPIE model projections, SSP2 baseline and 2 degree scenario. Kriegler et al., Global Environmental Change 42: 297-315, 2017, DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2016.05.015

German Greenhouse Gas Emissions 1990–2015
German Environment Agency (UBA), Daten zur Umwelt 2017 – Indikatorenbericht (in German), 2017, http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/publikationen/daten-zur-umwelt-2017

German Environment Agency (UBA), National Inventory Report for the German Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990-2015, 2017, http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/publikationen/submission-under-the-united-nations-framework-2

CO2 Emissions from Coal-fired Power Plants in Germany 1990-2015
Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), Energy Data: Complete Edition – Data collection of BMWi, 2017, http://www.bmwi.de/Redaktion/EN/Artikel/Energy/energiedaten.html

This movie is licensed under: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

Boris Müller
Julian Braun
Elmar Kriegler (PIK)
et al. (see below)