Only 90 companies, including Shell, ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco and BP, are responsible for causing nearly two-thirds of all man-made global emissions since the start of the Industrial Revolution, according to research by the Climate Accountability Institute.
The research, titled Tracing anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane emissions to fossil fuel and cement producers, 1854-2010, found the top emitters include 50 investor-owned companies, 31 state-owned companies, and nine government-run industries in the former Soviet Union, China and other countries. Some 83 of the 90 are coal, oil and gas producers and the remaining seven are cement manufacturers.
The researchers say these “carbon majors” are responsible for the equivalent of 914 gigatons of carbon dioxide, which accounts for 63 percent of industrial carbon dioxide and methane emissions between 1751 and 2010. Alarmingly, half of the greenhouse gas emissions analyzed in the study were emitted in the past 25 years.
The 10 companies responsible for extracting the most fossil fuels that have been burned over the past 150 years include: ChevronTexaco, Pemex, Saudi Aramco, BP, GazProm, Shell, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, National Iranian Oil Company and Petroleos de Venezuela.
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Some multinational firms have extracted more than most countries, the study shows. Investor-owned entities comprised 315 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent, while government-run industries contributed 312 gigatons. State-owned companies produced 288 gigatons.
The study says the top 20 investor-owned companies produce fuels that comprised 29.5 percent of emissions, while the top 10 account for 15.8 percent. Five “oil majors,” ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, and ConocoPhillips are responsible for a total of 181 gigatons of carbon dioxide over the past 130 years, which amounts to 12.5 percent of total carbon emitted to the atmosphere.
In September, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said it is now 95 percent confident that human influence is the dominant cause of global warming. However, the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) recently warned that climate change investment is falling far short of what is needed to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius in the coming decades – global investment in climate change plateaued at $359 billion in 2012, roughly the same as the previous year. This inaction is costing us $100 billion a year in extreme weather events alone, according to a recent report by Ceres.