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Global 500 firms account for 10% of global emissions



The world’s 500 largest businesses are responsible for more than 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and the figure is rising despite calls for companies to cut emissions and aid climate change goals, according to new research.

A report, published by Thomson Reuters and BSD Consulting, reveals that between 2010 and 2013 greenhouse gas emissions from the Global 500 have increased by 3.1%. This trend is particularly concerning when a UN report outlining a path through to 2050 to keep global temperature increase below the agreed 2C limit, states that greenhouse gas emissions should have been cut by 4.2%.

Collectively the Global 500 account for 13.8% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2013, representing more than the entire EU’s emissions in 2010, and the top 50 businesses account for 79% of the group’s.

“As we saw during the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, there’s an urgency to curb greenhouse gas emissions worldwide so we can reduce the impact of climate change”, said Tim Nixon, director of Sustainability at Thomson Reuters and co-author of the report.

“While we hope this report accelerates the discussion related to greenhouse gas reductions among the Global 500, it’s important to remember that as global consumers of industry, we all play a part in this conversation.”

Unsurprisingly, amongst the top 20 emitters are a high number of companies operating in the energy and utilities sectors, including EDF, Shell, E.ON, Exxon Mobil and GDF Suez.

The report argues that to help reduce the impact on the climate, businesses and their stakeholders need to focus more on the absolute tonnes of greenhouse gases and their emissions trends, rather than other benchmarks, such as ‘carbon intensity’ and carbon per amount of revenue produced.

Despite emission within the largest firms increasing overall there are businesses that have demonstrated it is possible to significantly reduce their emissions in line with goals to limit global warming.

John Moorhead, executive manager of BSD Consulting and co-author of the report, commented, “The conclusion of the report is that increased awareness of global greenhouse gas data can foster transparency innovation and a better understanding among companies and shareholders that can lead to further reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

“We want to support better decision-making by global businesses and stakeholders alike, improving greenhouse gas emissions goals into 2015 and beyond.”

Photo:  Emilian Robert Vicol via Flickr 

Further reading:

10% of companies responsible for over 70% of greenhouse gas emissions

New Energy & Cleantech Awards company seeks to cut transport emissions

CDP study shows improvements in emissions reporting in major firms

Make fracking firms pay for emissions, says Cambridge academic

Obama emissions plan could boost investment in renewables


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