AUSTRALIA has the world's highest per capita carbon dioxide emissions from energy use, according to a British analysis.
The CO2 Energy Emissions Index, released by risk assessment company Maplecroft, found Australia's overwhelmingly coal-based electricity supply meant the average person emitted 20.58 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
Australia overtook the US - responsible for 19.78 tonnes per head - as the worst per capita emitter.
Canada was third, followed by the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia.
China, now the biggest overall annual emitter of greenhouse gas, was 44th out of the 185 countries listed, emitting 4.6 tonnes per person.
The average person in India emits just 1.2 tonnes a year.
The gap between Australia and the US and big emerging economies illustrates why wealthier countries are expected to make the first, and deepest, emissions cuts under a climate treaty due to be signed in Copenhagen in December.
China and other emerging countries are demanding rich nations make cuts of 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. It would give poorer countries time to expand their economies and reduce poverty before deepening their carbon footprints.
Australia has bipartisan support for a 2020 emissions reduction target equivalent to a 4 per cent to 24 per cent cut below 1990 levels.
Maplecroft also released a list of countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
It was topped by Somalia, Haiti and Afghanistan. Twenty-two of the 28 most-at-risk countries were in Africa.
At least risk were Norway, Finland, Japan, Canada and New Zealand.
A spokeswoman for Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said Australia's ''very high'' per capita emissions demonstrated why it was important to introduce an emissions trading scheme.
''As one of the hottest and driest continents on earth, Australia will be among the hardest and fastest-hit by climate change if we don't act now,'' she said.