25 Fossils Produced More Than Half the World’s GHGs Since 1988
You can count on five hands the number of fossil companies responsible for more than half of humanity’s energy-related carbon emissions since 1988—and a quarter of all those released since the Industrial Revolution, CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) maintains in a new study.
“When emissions from agriculture and land use changes are taken out of the equation,” InsideClimate News reports, “a mere 25 producers account for just over half of [industrial greenhouse gas] emissions in the past three decades. The top 100 account for 71% of those emissions.”
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Due to economic growth in developing countries, more than half of the emissions since the Industrial Revolution have taken place since 1988, ICN adds. Meaning, in turn, that those two dozen plus one firms have released more than a quarter of humanity’s industrial GHGs since roughly 1750.
The CDP calculated that fossil energy production and use have released more greenhouse gases in the last 28 years than all of humanity “between the onset of the Industrial Revolution and the launch of the IPCC” in 1988. The latter date marks the formal international recognition that the globe is warming as the concentrations of those gases in the atmosphere rises. In that time, the top emitters “in terms of emissions from their own operations plus the use of their products,” have been Chinese coal companies, Saudi Aramco, Russia’s Gazprom, Iran’s national oil company, and ExxonMobil.
State-owned enterprises produced 59% of the 636 gigatonnes of CO2 or equivalent emitted by the 100 carbon majors since 1988, the CDP study found. Publicly-traded, investor-owned companies like Exxon accounted for almost a third, and privately held companies another 9%. The next-highest-emitting investor-owned companies over the last three decades were Shell, BP, Chevron, Peabody, and BHP Billiton.
“These companies really need to be thinking about transition plans, these governments that own these companies need to be thinking about transition plans, and investors need to think about how their money is being used,” said Pedro Faria, who authored the Carbon Majors Report. “They’re a big part of the problem and a big part of the solution.”
The CDP’s analysis is not far off one conducted over years by Richard Heede, an individual researcher “who works on his own aboard a rented houseboat on San Francisco Bay in California,” as Science reported in 2016. Heede concluded that just 90 private and state-run fossil energy companies had contributed—directly or indirectly—63% of all the greenhouse gases that humanity emitted between 1751 and 2010