• Who Is Most Responsible for Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

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Who Is Most Responsible for Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

Aug 22 2017

With 196 countries around the world coming together at the end of 2015 to find a common solution to the problem of climate change, curbing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has never been more salient. While it will require a collective effort from each and every one of us, the biggest difference to the environment can be made by the top 100 fossil fuel producers in the world.

That’s according to the Carbon Majors Report 2017, which used the Carbon Majors database to analyse who are the biggest contributors to GHG emissions and thus surmise a picture of the role of corporations in global warming. The report concluded that 100 coal, oil and gas companies are responsible for 71% of all GHG emissions, meaning they could have a massive effect on the future of our planet if they adapted their practices.

A new approach to the problem

Often, emissions are categorised by country rather than company, which doesn’t always offer the most helpful picture of the situation. The new report, conducted by the Carbon Disclosure Project working in tandem with the Climate Accountability Institute, took another angle on the subject.

“In 1988, human-induced climate change was officially recognized through the establishment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),” says the report. “Since this time, the fossil fuel industry has doubled its contribution to global warming by emitting as much greenhouse gas in 28 years as in the 237 years between 1988 and the birth of the industrial revolution. Since 1988, more than half of global industrial GHGs can be traced to just 25 corporate and state producers.”

Public and private companies at the forefront

Many of the leading emitters are state-owned corporations, such as Saudi Aramco, National Iranian Oil, Kuwait Petroleum and China National Coal. Indeed, China in particular is guilty of very high emissions, with the nation’s coal industry responsible for 14.5% of all emissions worldwide since 1988. New coal ventures have come under heavy criticism for their short sightedness; not only will they soon become obsolete environmentally, but perhaps economically as well.

Meanwhile, there are still many private entities which feature on the list. ExxonMobil, Shell and BP are predictably among the biggest producers of carbon around the globe, and though their attitude towards climate change has traditionally been one of negligence and denial, surely a continuation of such a policy would jeopardise their future operations.

A collective effort

Of course, it’s easy to point the finger at these massive entities and ask them to shoulder the blame for the deteriorating state of our environment, but it must be remembered that the emissions are produced in order to provide energy for the consumer. With that in mind, we must all make a concerted individual effort to collectively save the planet.

As well as conserving energy and recycling as much as possible, this can also take the form of dietary consciousness. With methane emissions from agriculture and dairy farming another chief contributing factor to global warming, a less meat-heavy diet consisting of locally-sourced produce is key to curbing our carbon footprint and doing our bit to help Mother Earth.   

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