The carbon footprint of industry giants: a look into escalating emissions

New analysis reveals that many of Big Oil's giants have increased fossil fuel production and related emissions in the seven years since the Paris climate agreement

In 2016, the European Parliament formally ratified the Paris Climate Agreement. In the seven years that followed, a staggering 251 billion ton of CO2 were released into the atmosphere.

Shockingly, 80% of these greenhouse gases can be traced back to just 57 corporate giants in the oil, coal, gas, and cement sectors. When smaller companies are taken into account, the picture barely changes: 88% of emissions since 2016 have come from just 117 entities.

This information comes from the Carbon Majors Database, a comprehensive collection of historical data on 122 of the world’s largest producers of oil, gas, coal, and cement. Compiled by renowned researchers, the database first revealed that 65% of state entities and 55% of private sector companies have increased production.

Despite commitments made in Paris to reduce greenhouse gases, the analysis reveals that the majority of these major producers have increased fossil fuel production and their corresponding emissions in the seven years following the climate agreement.

the relentless rise of carbon emissions: major made by corporations

@The Carbon Majors Database

the relentless rise of carbon emissions: major made by corporations

@The Carbon Majors Database

Who Pollutes the Most

During this period, the leading contributor to emissions was the American company ExxonMobil, linked to 3.6 gigatonnes of CO2, accounting for 1.4% of the global total. Following closely behind were:

  • Shell
  • BP
  • Chevron
  • TotalEnergies

Each was associated with at least 1% of global emissions.

However, the most notable trend was the sharp increase in emissions from state-owned producers, particularly in the Asian coal sector, in stark contrast to the International Energy Agency’s warning that no new oil and gas fields can be developed if we are to stay within the safe limits of global warming. Climate scientists warn that global temperatures are rapidly approaching the Paris Agreement’s lower goal of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, with potentially disastrous consequences for people and nature alike.

“It is morally reprehensible for companies to continue expanding exploration and production of carbon-based fuels knowing for decades that their products are harmful,” stated Richard Heede, who established the Carbon Majors dataset in 2013.

In Europe, 7 Out of 10 Companies Increased Emissions

Asia leads in negative trends, with 13 out of 15 companies (87%) analyzed showing increased emissions since 2016 (70% in the Middle East). Europe is also performing poorly, with 13 out of 27 companies having increased their greenhouse gas emissions.

North America is the only region where the majority of fossil companies have decelerated their emissions (21 out of 37, or 57%).

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