About 100 companies have been responsible for about 71% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
That's according to a new report from climate change non-profit CDP in conjunction with the Climate Accountability Institute. The report hopes to highlight the role such companies, and their investors, play in Climate Change.
These companies, led by Saudi Aramco, Russian gas giant Gazprom, and Exxon Mobil, have produced about 923 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalents between 1988 to 2016. State-owned coal producers in China and India also feature in the top 10, as do Mexican oil producer Pemex and the National Iranian Oil Corporation. Of the top 10, only Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell are majority-owned by private investors (although CDP has, for some reason, listed a bundle of privately-held companies into what it calls "Russia Coal" at no. 7).
The burning of fossil fuels has increased by orders of magnitude in the last 30 years as China and India have joined the process of industrialization that the West started in the middle of the 18th century. More greenhouse gases were emitted from human activity in the last 30 years than in the previous 150, according to CDP's research.
Despite rapid growth in the use of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, companies and governments across the world are struggling to master the transition from fossil fuels.
"Fossil fuel companies are also going to have to demonstrate leadership as part of this transition," wrote Pedro Faria, technical director of the CDP. "They owe it to the millions of clients they serve that are already feeling the effects of climate change, and to the many millions more that require energy for the comfort of their daily lives but are looking for alternatives to their products."
Notably, Exxon Mobil investors recently called for the company to provide a future plan in case of stronger Climate Change regulations.
“This is an unprecedented victory at Exxon for investors in the fight to ensure a smooth transition to a low-carbon economy," said New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli at the time.
The total list of those 100 companies can be found here.