Four US companies among the twenty largest polluters since 1965, says climate report

Of the 20 industries listed, four are US-based: Chevron Corporation, ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy and ConocoPhilips.


                            Four US companies among the twenty largest polluters since 1965, says climate report

According to the US Energy Information Administration, most emissions of human-caused greenhouse gases come from burning of fossil fuels: oil, natural gas, coal and petroleum. In the US, About 76 percent of these greenhouse emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels.

Now, a report from the Climate Accountability Institute lays out a list of the biggest industry polluters from 1965 to 2017. These industries belonged to either investor- or state-owned oil, natural gas and coal companies. Of the 20 industries listed, four are US-based: Chevron Corporation, ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy and ConocoPhilips.

"Twenty companies have collectively contributed 480 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide and methane [greenhouse gases], chiefly from the combustion of their products, equivalent to 35% of all fossil fuel and cement emissions worldwide since 1965," read the press statement.

A team headed by Richard Heede, co-founder and co-director of the Climate Accountability Institute, aimed to analyze each company's carbon fuel contribution to global carbon emissions and their direct operational emissions. To do so, they quantified and attributed emissions to carbon producers and modeled their impact on global climate.

In the report, they explain that although global consumers -- from individuals to corporations  -- are the ultimate emitters of carbon dioxide, they targeted fossil fuel companies because, according to them, they have produced and marketed the carbon fuels to billions of consumers, knowing that their use will worsen the climate crisis.

The global fossil fuel and cement emissions from 1965 to 2018, according to them, amounted to 1,354 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide and energy-related methane. Out of which, the top 20 industries have released 35 percent of all emissions worldwide. Additionally, they also report that since 1751, half of all global fossil fuel and cement carbon dioxide emissions have been emitted since 1990. 

Saudi Arabian oil company, Saudi Aramco tops the list, contributing 4.38 percent of the total global emissions. Following Saudi Aramco are USA's Chevron Corporation and Russia's Gazprom, with 3.20 and 3.19 percent respectively. Other US companies, ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy and ConocoPhilip, occupy positions 4, 12 and 13, emitting 3.09 percent, 1.14 percent and 1.12 percent of the global total. The Guardian reported that 12 of the 20 companies are state-owned.

“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. It is a great moral failing of our political system that we have allowed this to happen,” Michael Mann, distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Pennsylvania State University, told The Guardian.

The team from Climate Accountability Institute stress that companies must value climate science, reduce emissions to align it with the Paris Agreement -- they have to reach net zero by 2050, support the decarbonization of the global economy, and invest in renewables, carbon sequestration and low-carbon fuels.

Of the 20 listed companies that the Guardian approached, seven responded and stated that they are in the process of investing in renewable or low-carbon energy sources. "Most explicitly said [that] they accepted the climate science and some claimed to support the targets set out in the Paris agreement to reduce emissions and keep global temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels," as per The Guardian.

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