Report reveals world's top CO2 emissions sources

CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, has released its first Carbon Majors Report identifying the current top 100 fossil fuel producers which account for 923 billion tonnes or 53% of global CO2 emissions since the industrial revolution.

A wider sample of 224 companies was found to represent 72% of annual global industrial GHG emissions in 2015.

The report is based on information collected in its Carbon Majors Database which stores greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data on the largest company-related sources.

The database was established to highlight the role that corporations can play in driving the global energy transition.

Amongst the report's findings are:

  • The contribution of fossil fuels to global warming has doubled: 833 GtCO2 e was emitted in just 28 years since 1988, compared with 820 GtCO2 e in the 237 years between 1988 and the birth of the industrial revolution.

  • Coal makes up a larger share of fossil fuels. Despite an increase in the share of gas (a less carbon-intensive fuel), the vast expansion of coal production over the past 15 years has led the overall emissions intensity of fossil fuels since 1988 to increase by 2.4%.

  • Large ventures into carbon-intensive ‘unconventional oils’ have emerged. Companies such as Suncor, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and ConocoPhillips have invested in the extraction of oil sands, tight oil, heavy oils and other forms which carry a larger environmental impact than conventional crude oil.

  • Over half of global industrial emissions since human-induced climate change was officially recognised (1988) can be traced to just 25 corporate and state producing entities.

  • The highest emitting companies since 1988 that are investor-owned include: ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, Peabody, Total, and BHP Billiton. Key state-owned companies include Saudi Aramco, Gazprom, National Iranian Oil, Coal India, Pemex, and CNPC (PetroChina). Coal emissions from China are represented by the state, in which key state-owned producers include Shenhua Group, Datong Coal Mine Group, and China National Coal Group.

The report concluded that the fossil fuel industry and its products accounted for 91% of global industrial GHGs in 2015, and over 70% of all anthropogenic GHG emissions.

“If the trend in fossil fuel extraction continues over the next 28 years as it has over the previous 28, then global average temperatures would be on course to rise around 4ºC above preindustrial levels by the end of the century. This would entail substantial species extinction, large risks of regional and global food scarcity, and could cross multiple tipping points in the Earth’s climate system, leading to even more severe consequences.”

CDP has also released a dataset of emissions from all 100 producers over the period 1988-2015 and the top 100 companies of the 2015 Sample.

Technical Director of CDP, Pedro Faria, said climate action is no longer confined to the direction given by policy makers.

“It is now a social movement, commanded by both economic and ethical imperatives and supported by growing amounts of data.”

The Carbon Majors Report is intended to guide investors wishing to better understand the amount of carbon associated with their fossil fuel holdings and to improve transparency from fossil fuel companies, particularly around product-related emissions.

The CDP Carbon Majors Report 2017 is available here.

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