100 companies are responsible for 71% of GHG emissions

A CDP report points out that a few companies have emitted the majority of CO2 since 1988
Wind energy on Global Wind Day

Just 100 of all the hundreds of thousands of companies in the world have been responsible for 71% of the global GHG emissions that cause global warming since 1998, according to The Carbon Majors Database, a report recently published by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), throwing light on the role companies and investors play in tackling climate change.

CDP is a non-profit organization dedicated to global disclosure of information to aid governments, companies and investors with managing their environmental impact. According to the study, since 1988, the year in which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed, over half of the world’s industrial emissions can be traced back to just 25 state companies and entities.

Public investor-owned companies: key to decarbonization

The CDP report also reveals that 32% of emissions come from public investor-owned companies, making their investors a key agent in the transition to a sustainable economy. These investors could make their economic support conditional on the companies committing to decarbonization of the energy sector.

As many experts point out, investors who keep their stakes in companies dedicated to fossil fuels will find that this strategy will become riskier with time. The energy sector is changing fast and the transition could leave those who continue to invest in fossil fuels stranded.

Why is investing in fossil fuels increasingly risky?

If companies continue to extract fossil fuels at the rate they have been doing over the past 28 years, it is estimated that the global average temperature will rise by up to 4°C, which will result in the possible extinction of a multitude of species and seriously threaten world food production.

Which companies emit the most CO2?

According to the CDP, between 1988 and 2015, 100 companies were responsible for 71% of global GHG emissions. The Carbon Majors Database report names the following 10 companies as those which belch most carbon dioxide into the atmosphere:

100 companies are responsible for 71% of GHG emissions

  • China Coal 14.3 %
  • Saudi Aramco 4.5 %
  • Gazprom OAO 3.9 %
  • National Iranian Oil Co 2.3 %
  • ExxonMobil Corp 2.0 %
  • Coal India 1.9 %
  • Petróleos Mexicanos 1.9 %
  • Russia Coal 1.9 %
  • Royal Dutch Shell PLC 1.7 %
  • China National Petroleum Corp 1.6 %

On the upside, more and more large corporations are supporting the transition to a carbon-free economy and have committed to obtaining energy of 100% renewable origin. This change is being led by a group of companies that includes Apple, Facebook, Google and Ikea.


Sources: The Carbon Majors Database report, CDP and The Guardian.