Did you know that just a small number of companies (including household names such as BP, ExxonMobil and Chevron) are responsible for two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions in the last 150 years of human history?
When one thinks of the most polluting companies in the world, it is difficult to realize their gigantic share in today’s greenhouse emissions, but according to a study published in November 2013 in the scientific journal Climatic Change, just 90 companies in the world emit the equivalent of 63% of industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and methane on the planet.
This figure represents a staggering total of 914 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The study, conducted by Richard Heede, an engineer and head of the research group Climate Accountability Institute in Colorado, shows another striking fact: 50% of these emissions has been released into the atmosphere since 1986, which is a direct result of rapid industrialization of the developed world as well as of the acceleration of the use of fossil fuels for the last 25 years.
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This study “is the most complete picture we have that gives us a clear idea about which institutions extract coal, oil and natural gas in the most corrosive manner” stated Richard Heede. “These are the companies and institutions that create noxious products, used by billions of consumers. This results in high levels of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.”
Among the culprits, 50 of the 90 companies are private ones. Shell, ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and ConocoPhillips emit the lion’s share of pollutants. These 5 companies alone are responsible for 12.5% of emissions.
Not surprisingly, it is the United States who come first, with 21 companies making their way in this dubious ranking. Europe follows with 17 members in the ranking. Two French companies, (Total and Lafarge Group), Five British companies and three German companies have the embarassing honor of being named in this list. It is about time that we hold them accountable.