Majority of CO2 emissions linked to 57 companies

Written by Lori Campbell on 4th Apr 2024

The vast majority of planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions since 2016 can be traced to just 57 fossil fuel and cement producers, a new study reveals.

From 2016 – when almost all countries signed the historic United Nations Paris Agreement on climate change – to 2022, the group of 57 corporate and state entities have produced a massive 80 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases.

The research, by thinktank InfluenceMap, reveals the top three CO2-emitting companies in the period were state-owned oil firm Saudi Aramco, Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom and India’s state-owned producer Coal India.

The leading emitting investor-owned fossil fuel companies were ExxonMobil followed by Shell, Chevron, BP and Total.

Nation-state producers were found to account for 38 per cent of emissions, while state-owned entities account for 37 per cent, and investor-owned companies account for 25 per cent.

Most have INCREASED production

And, far from slowing down, most fossil fuel and cement producers in the study are also increasing production, said InfluenceMap’s programme manager Daan Van Acker.

“InfluenceMap’s new analysis shows that this group is not slowing down production, with most entities increasing production after the Paris Agreement,” he said. “This research provides a crucial link in holding these energy giants to account for the consequences of their activities.”

The majority of fossil fuel companies were found to have totalled higher production in the seven years after the Paris Agreement compared to the seven-year period before, with 65 per cent of state-owned companies and 55 per cent of investor-owned companies producing more emissions in 2016-2022 than during 2009-2015.

The new research is based on the ‘Carbon Majors’ database, which contains emissions data from 1854 through 2022. InfluenceMap, which is now set take over hosting of the online database, described it as “the first and only provider of this comprehensive view of corporate fossil fuel producers’ contributions to greenhouse gas emissions”.

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Holding fossil fuel giants to account

“The Carbon Majors database is a key tool in attributing responsibility for climate change to the fossil fuel producers with the most significant role in driving global CO2 emissions,” added Van Acker, who said the data set had proved crucial for holding fossil fuel producers to account for their climate impacts.

Tzeporah Berman – international program director at campaign group and chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty campaign – said the research “shows us exactly who is responsible for the lethal heat, extreme weather, and air pollution that is threatening lives and wreaking havoc on our oceans and forests”.

“These companies have made billions of dollars in profits while denying the problem and delaying and obstructing climate policy,” she said. “They are spending millions on advertising campaigns about being part of a sustainable solution, all the while continuing to invest in more fossil fuel extraction.”

Saudi Aramco declined to comment. Coal India and Gazprom did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Shell did not comment directly on the research findings, but in a statement insisted it was committed to achieving net zero emissions across its business by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement.

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