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Just 100 Companies Responsible For 71% Of Global Emissions: Report

Climate action is no longer confined to the direction given by policy makers; it is now a social movement, commanded by both economic and ethical imperatives and supported by growing amounts of data

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According to a report, called the Carbon Majors report, just 100 companies are responsible for over 70 per cent of emissions since 1988.

The Carbon Majors report highlights that “since 1988, more than half of global industrial GHGs can be traced to just 25 corporate and state producers.” The report also adds that “in 2015, a fifth of global industrial GHG emissions were backed by publicly listed investment. The scale of emissions signals the importance and potential of investor engagement in the fossil fuel industry.”

“Climate action is no longer confined to the direction given by policy makers; it is now a social movement, commanded by both economic and ethical imperatives and supported by growing amounts of data. Those that ignore this reality do so at their own peril”, said Pedro Faria, Technical Director at CDP. 

“Fossil fuel companies are also going to have to demonstrate leadership as part of this transition. They owe it to the millions of clients they serve that are already feeling the effects of climate change, and to the many millions more that require energy for the comfort of their daily lives but are looking for alternatives to their products”, he further added.

The report which focuses on fossil-fuel producers to track green-house emissions data is intended as the first in a series of publications to highlight the role companies and their investors could play in tackling climate change. ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron are identified by the report as among the highest emitting investor-owned companies since 1988. If fossil fuels continue to be extracted at the same rate over the next 28 years as they were between 1988 and 2017, says the report, global average temperatures would be on course to raise by 4C by the end of the century. This is likely to have catastrophic consequences including substantial species extinction and global food scarcity risks.

A fifth of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions are backed by public investment, according to the report. “That puts a significant responsibility on those investors to engage with carbon majors and urge them to disclose climate risk,” says Faria. The report goes on to add that “despite an increase in the share of gas (a less carbon-intensive fuel), the vast expansion of coal production over the past 15 years has led the overall emissions intensity of fossil fuels since 1988 to increase (by 2.4 per cent)”, with the coal industry in China contributing to more than 14 per cent of the global emissions.

The report states that the “highest emitting companies since 1988 that are investor-owned include: ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, Peabody, Total, and BHP Billiton. Key state-owned companies include Saudi Aramco, Gazprom, National Iranian Oil, Coal India, Pemex, and CNPC (PetroChina). Coal emissions from China are represented by the state, in which key state-owned producers include Shenhua Group, Datong Coal Mine Group, and China National Coal Group.” “Investors in fossil fuel companies carry influence over one fifth of industrial greenhouse gas emissions worldwide”, states the report, adding that “included in the top 50 fossil fuel companies are 29 oil and gas companies accounting for one third of global industrial GHG”.

 Calling for action from fossil fuel extraction companies, the report states that these companies “need to plan their future in the context of a radical transformation of the global energy system”. Fossil fuel companies “can contribute to the transition by reducing operational emissions, shifting to lighter fossil fuels, engaging in the deployment of CCUS and other carbon-offset options, and diversifying their portfolio of primary energy products to encompass renewables”, adds the report.