Just 90 companies are responsible for two-thirds of manmade greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report.
This includes investor-owned companies such as BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron and Exxon Mobil. Government run industries in China and the former USSR also feature in the top emitters, while state owned companies such as Gazprom also make the list. All but seven of the 90 are energy companies.
The study, which is not yet publicly available, though it has been accepted by the journal Climactic Change, claims that these 90 companies are to blame for 63% of industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and methane from the years 1751 to 2010.
It also found that half of all these companies’ emissions were produced in the last 25 years.
“There are thousands of oil, gas and coal producers in the world”, Richard Heede of the Climate Accountability Institute in Colorado told the Guardian.
“But the decision makers, the CEOs, or the ministers of coal and oil if you narrow it down to just one person, they could all fit on a Greyhound bus or two.”
The report’s authors also warned that some of these polluters have access to further reserves of fossil fuels that, if used, could cause significant climate disruption.
These findings support the claims of the IPCC’s recent AR5 report, which advised that the majority of the world’s untouched fuel reserves must remain in the ground. Another recent study, by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), warned that this carbon budget – for the rest of this century – will likely be used up within the next 21 years.
Also among the top 90 emitters is the government run Polish coal industry. Poland, the hosts of the UN climate talks currently in progress in Warsaw, has been heavily criticised for opting to host a coal industry conference alongside the event.