There is a characteristically excellent story from The Guardian on a blockbuster paper that’s just come out in one of the premier science journals, Climatic Change. The Guardian reports that “The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age, new research suggests.”
You can see the breakdown in the very useful interactive above from the good folks at The Guardian. (They’re the same folks that broke the story wide open on the phone hacking by Rupert Murdoch’s myrmidons and were the vehicle for Edward Snowden’s exposing of the joint American and British global eavesdropping program. They also, if you didn’t know, have had excellent coverage on the environment for years.)
The paper, Tracing anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane emissions to fossil fuel and cement producers, 1854–2010, is by Richard Heede, an experienced geographer and energy researcher, for the Climate Accountability Institute. He spent nearly 20 years at the prestigious Rocky Mountain Institute.
The paper offers an important new perspective on how we see the GHG problem: tracing emissions to producers. “The question of wealth generated through the production and use of fossil fuels suggests an alternative to the nation-state approach: to analyze emissions in terms of the fossil fuels produced by incorporated entities—such as investor-owned or state-owned companies—rather than states as consumers and emitters.” You can find a full breakdown of paper here, including links to the paper itself and supplementary material.
The table below shows the top 20. No surprises here except perhaps to note the extraordinary contribution from the oil supermajors like Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell. It’s so past time to pull the plug on these criminals.