A new study set to be published in the journal Climate Change, has determined that just 90 companies are responsible for the current climate change crisis, producing nearly two-thirds of all greenhouse gas emissions since the beginning of the industrial age around the middle of the eighteenth century.
Richard Heede, a climate researcher and author, said that “there are thousands of oil, gas and coal producers in the world. 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 study calculated that the 90 firms produced a combined 914 gigatonnes of CO2 between 1751 and 2010, equating to 63% of all emissions. 83 of the companies were energy companies such as Chevron, ExxonMobil, and BP, working in the production of oil, natural gas, and coal; the other seven companies were all cement manufacturers.
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Half of the total emissions were produced during the last 25 years, long after the date when governments became aware that greenhouse gas emissions released by burning fossil fuels were causing widespread damage to the environment and leading to potential climate changes.
The Guardian writes that climate change experts have called the study the most ambitious effort to hold individual greenhouse gas emitters to account for their actions, rather than blaming governments. Former Vice-President Al Gore has said that this new carbon accounting system could transform the debate over allocating blame for the current crisis. This analysis clearly shows that it is unfair to expect governments alone to bear the burden of combatting climate change, when the majority of the blame lies with investor-owned energy companies.
Gore told the Guardian that “this study is a crucial step forward in our understanding of the evolution of the climate crisis. The public and private sectors alike must do what is necessary to stop global warming. Those who are historically responsible for polluting our atmosphere have a clear obligation to be part of the solution.”
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com