Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

20 Fossil Fuel Companies Are Responsible for a Third of Carbon Emissions

Climate
Chimneys and cooling tower of a coal fired power station in in dramatic sunset light. Schroptschop / E+ / Getty Images

New research has shown that just 20 fossil fuel companies have allowed their relentless greed to ignore decades of warnings about what their practices were doing to the world, as The Guardian reported. Their exploitation of the world's oil, gas and coal reserves is directly linked to more than one-third of the planet's carbon emissions.


The new research found that the top 20 companies on the list have contributed to 35 percent of all energy-related carbon dioxide and methane emissions worldwide, which adds up to 480 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent since 1965. That date is notable, since in 1965, the president of the American Petroleum Institute informed his industry about research into climate change caused by fossil fuels. "The substance of the report is that there is still time to save the world's peoples from the catastrophic consequence of pollution, but time is running out," said Frank Ikard in 1965, as Desmog reported.

That, along with many other warnings, has been thoroughly ignored and pushed the world into a climate crisis. In fact, it stands in stark contrast to the industry's current position, which was articulated by the head of OPEC, Mohammed Barkindo, who said this summer that climate activists are the biggest threat to the industry and they are making false claims that mislead the public with unscientific warnings about global warming, as EcoWatch reported.

"Civil society is being misled to believe oil is the cause of climate change," said Barkindo.

Twelve of the top 20 companies are state-owned. As a whole, they make up 20 percent of total emissions, lead by Saudi Aramco, which alone is responsible for over 4 percent of global emissions, according to the new analysis by the Climate Accountability Institute, as The Guardian reported.

As for investor-owned firms, California-based Chevron is the largest polluter, second behind Saudi Aramco and just ahead of Exxon. Household names Shell, BP, and ConocoPhillips also made the list. Exxon, Chevron and BP each donated $500,000 to Donald Trump's inauguration in 2017.

Michael Mann, one of the world's leading climate scientists, told The Guardian that the findings highlighted the outsized contribution that fossil fuel companies make to the climate crisis. He called on politicians at the forthcoming climate talks in Chile in December to take urgent measures to curtail industry activities.

"The great tragedy of the climate crisis is that seven and a half billion people must pay the price – in the form of a degraded planet – so that a couple of dozen polluting interests can continue to make record profits," said Mann to The Guardian. "It is a great moral failing of our political system that we have allowed this to happen."

The study also buffers Elizabeth Warren's point during the climate town hall when she said industry needs to be held accountable, not individuals.

In response to a question Chris Cuomo asked her about light bulbs, she answered in exasperation, "Oh come on, give me a break," Warren said to Cuomo. "This is exactly what the fossil fuel industry wants us to be talking about. That's what they want us to talk about: This is your problem." She went on to say that the fossil fuel industry wants "to stir up a lot of controversy around your light bulbs, around your straws and around your cheeseburgers."

Richard Heede of the Climate Accountability Institute, who led the research seemed to back her statement

"These companies and their products are substantially responsible for the climate emergency, have collectively delayed national and global action for decades, and can no longer hide behind the smokescreen that consumers are the responsible parties," he said to The Guardian."Oil, gas, and coal executives derail progress and offer platitudes when their vast capital, technical expertise, and moral obligation should enable rather than thwart the shift to a low-carbon future."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Marco Bottigelli / Moment / Getty Images

By James Shulmeister

Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change.

If you have a question you'd like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz

Read More Show Less
Luxy Images / Getty Images

By Jo Harper

Investment in U.S. offshore wind projects are set to hit $78 billion (€69 billion) this decade, in contrast with an estimated $82 billion for U.S. offshore oil and gasoline projects, Wood Mackenzie data shows. This would be a remarkable feat only four years after the first offshore wind plant — the 30 megawatt (MW) Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island — started operating in U.S. waters.

Read More Show Less
Giacomo Berardi / Unsplash

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed both the strengths and limitations of globalization. The crisis has made people aware of how industrialized food production can be, and just how far food can travel to get to the local supermarket. There are many benefits to this system, including low prices for consumers and larger, even global, markets for producers. But there are also costs — to the environment, workers, small farmers and to a region or individual nation's food security.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Joe Leech

The human body comprises around 60% water.

It's commonly recommended that you drink eight 8-ounce (237-mL) glasses of water per day (the 8×8 rule).

Read More Show Less

By Michael Svoboda

The enduring pandemic will make conventional forms of travel difficult if not impossible this summer. As a result, many will consider virtual alternatives for their vacations, including one of the oldest forms of virtual reality – books.

Read More Show Less
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility on Thursday accused NOAA of ignoring its own scientists' findings about the endangerment of the North Atlantic right whale. Lauren Packard / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Julia Conley

As the North Atlantic right whale was placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's list of critically endangered species Thursday, environmental protection groups accusing the U.S. government of bowing to fishing and fossil fuel industry pressure to downplay the threat and failing to enact common-sense restrictions to protect the animals.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Pexels

By Beth Ann Mayer

Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.

Read More Show Less