Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global CO2 emissions

10th July 2017

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Kirsten Velthuis

Some 71% of all global greenhouse gas emissions can be traced to just 100 fossil fuel providers since 1988 the year human-induced climate change was officially recognised.

That is according to a report published today by climate change research provider CDP, which shows that the highest emitting investor-owned companies include, ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, Peabody, Total and BHP Billton.

However, the Chinese coal industry was by far the biggest contributor, accounting for 14.3% of global emissions since 1988, followed by Saudi Arabian oil company Aramco, which was responsible for 4.5%.

“This ground-breaking report pinpoints how a relatively small set of just 100 fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions,” CDP technical director, Pedro Faria, said.

“We are seeing critical shifts that put the tipping point for a low-carbon transition in reach, and this data shows how important the role of the carbon majors, and the investors who own them, will be.”

The research shows these 100 providers are the source of 635 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, with just 25 corporate and state producers responsible for 51%.

It reveals that 32% of historic emissions come from publicly listed investor-owned companies, 59% from state-owned firms, and 9% from private investment.

In addition, it shows that companies have released 833Gt of CO2 in the last 28 years, compared with 820Gt in the previous 237 at the birth of the industrial revolution.

If the trend of fossil fuel extraction continues over the next 28 years, the report argues that global average temperature rises would be on course to increase to 4ºC by the end of the century.

That would result in substantial species extinction and large food scarcity risks worldwide, it adds.

“Fossil fuel extraction companies will need to plan their future in the context of a radical transformation of the global energy system,” says Climate Accountability Institute director, Richard Heede.

“They owe it to the millions of clients they serve who are already feeling the effects of climate change, to consumers and investors, and to the many millions more that require energy for the comfort of their daily lives but are looking for alternatives to their products.”


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