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Which Companies Are Responsible For the Most Carbon Emissions?

Over the past 50 years, 20 companies have contributed 35% of cumulative global emissions, mostly from the combustion of their products.
Visual Capitalist creates and curates enriched visual content focused on emerging trends in business and investing. Founded in 2011 in Vancouver, the team at Visual Capitalist believes that art, data, and storytelling can be combined in a manner that makes complex issues and processes more digestible. Covering high-growth opportunities and industries such as technology, mining, and energy, Visual Capitalist reaches millions of investors each year. Visual Capitalist’s infographics have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Zero Hedge, Maclean’s, Gizmodo, The Vancouver Sun, and Business Insider.
Visual Capitalist creates and curates enriched visual content focused on emerging trends in business and investing. Founded in 2011 in Vancouver, the team at Visual Capitalist believes that art, data, and storytelling can be combined in a manner that makes complex issues and processes more digestible. Covering high-growth opportunities and industries such as technology, mining, and energy, Visual Capitalist reaches millions of investors each year. Visual Capitalist’s infographics have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Zero Hedge, Maclean’s, Gizmodo, The Vancouver Sun, and Business Insider.

By Iman Ghosh

20 Companies Responsible For the Most Carbon Emissions?

Since 1965, it’s estimated over 1.35 million metric tons (MtCO?e) of greenhouse gases have been released into the atmosphere—and over a third can be traced back to just 20 companies.

This week’s chart draws on a dataset from the Climate Accountability Institute, and highlights the companies which have been responsible for the most carbon emissions in the past half-century.

The Sum of their Carbon Emissions

Between 1965-2017, the top 20 companies have contributed 480,169 MtCO?e in total carbon emissions, or 35% of cumulative global emissions. This whopping amount is mostly from the combustion of their products—each company on this chart deals in fossil fuels.

The largest contributor? Saudi Aramco, the national petroleum and natural gas company of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Aramco actually comes in first on another list as well—it’s the most profitable company, making over $304 million daily.

However, this financial gain came at a significant cost: the state-owned giant’s operations have resulted in 59,262 MtCO?e in carbon emissions since 1965. To put that into perspective, this total is more than six times China’s emissions in 2017 alone (9,838 MtCO?e).

Explore the full list of companies by location, who owns them, and their total 1965–2017 emissions count below:

Company Country Ownership All Emissions, MtCO?e
Total Emissions 480,169 MtCO?e
Saudi Aramco Saudi Arabia State-owned 59,262
Chevron U.S. Investor-owned 43,345
Gazprom Russia State-owned 43,230
Exxon Mobil U.S. Investor-owned 41,904
National Iranian Oil Co. Iran State-owned 35,658
BP UK Investor-owned 34,015
Royal Dutch Shell Netherlands Investor-owned 31,948
Coal India India State-owned 23,124
Pemex Mexico State-owned 22,645
Petroleus de Venezuela Venezuela State-owned 15,745
PetroChina China State-owned 15,632
Peabody Energy U.S. Investor-owned 15,385
ConocoPhillips U.S. Investor-owned 15,229
Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. UAE State-owned 13,840
Kuwait Petroleum Corp. Kuwait State-owned 13,479
Iraq National Oil Co. Iraq State-owned 12,596
Total SA France Investor-owned 12,352
Sonatrach Algeria State-owned 12,302
BHP Billiton Australia Investor-owned 9,802
Petrobras Brazil State-owned 8,676

A Greener Business Model?

According to the researchers, all the companies that show up in today’s chart bear some responsibility for knowingly accelerating the climate crisis even after proven scientific evidence.

In fact, U.S.-based Exxon Mobil is currently on trial for misleading investors: the company downplayed the effect of climate change on its profitability, while internal calculations proved to be much larger. It also sowed public doubt on the immense impacts of rising greenhouse gas levels on the planet.

Growing sustainability and environmental concerns threaten the viability of old business models for these corporations, causing many to pivot away from the fossil fuel focus. Take BP for example—originally named British Petroleum, the company embraced “Beyond Petroleum” as its new rallying cry. More recently, it launched a carbon footprint calculator and is committed to keeping its carbon emissions flat into 2025.

However, the Climate Accountability Institute argues that more can still be done, with the researchers calling for these companies to reduce their fossil fuel production in the near future.

Continued pressure on these “Big Oil” companies to peak their carbon emissions, and urgently increase their renewable energy investment, may help curb the climate crisis before it’s too late.

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Equities Contributor: Visual Capitalist

Source: Equities News