New research indicates that just 90 companies are responsible for producing almost two-thirds (63%) of the climate change-inducing greenhouse gases emitted by humanity since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the Gaurdian has reported.
Coal companies, such as British Coal Corp, Peabody Energy, and BHP Billiton, have been producing the most carbon emissions, and giant oil companies such as Chevron, Exxon, BP, and Royal Dutch Shell are included among those 90 top emitting companies. The research found that 83 of the 90 companies are involved in producing coal, oil, or gas, and the other 7 are cement producers. The research has reportedly been accepted for publication in the science journal Climate Change.
Although the analysis covered the whole industrial age (starting from 1751), half of the estimated emissions have been produced in just the past 25 years. As we’ve discussed before, many of these fossil fuel companies still have large reserves of fossil fuels that scientists now say will have to be left in the ground if the world is to continue to have a liveable climate. Even the traditionally conservative International Energy Agency has acknowledged this reality, yet fossil fuel companies are expecting to find and burn even more.
Following the United Nations climate chief’s comments earlier this week, when she urged the global coal industry to be part of the solution to climate change by quickly transforming itself, “for everyone’s sake”, Al Gore has told the Guardian that “Those who are historically responsible for polluting our atmosphere have a clear obligation to be part of the solution”.
He and others have pointed out the massive and growing financial “carbon bubble” that these unburnable fossil fuel company “assets” now represent on world financial markets. Because these reserves cannot and will not be burned, they are actually worthless, and the markets will eventually recognize that.
It is hoped that this new research will help to break the continuing deadlock in international climate talks, as it will bring focus and accountability to the oil and coal companies and their remaining reserves. It is those reserves that will either tip the world into catastrophic climate change, or help us to avoid it.