While the speed of climate change may appear to be spurred by all human activity, a report by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and the Climate Accountability Institute (CAI) has found that just 100 companies and state-owned entities have contributed over 70 percent of global carbon emissions since 1988. The data indicates that dramatically curbing carbon emissions could be achieved by compelling these entities to shift toward renewable energies.
On July 10, the environmental non-profit CDP and CAI released the Carbon Majors Report, an analysis of worldwide carbon emissions based on data collected since the establishment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1988. The data found that not only did 100 entities alone account for the majority of emissions, but that 25 companies and state-owned entities accounted for more than half of global emissions alone, The Guardian reports.
The most prominent contributor of global greenhouse gases was China's state-owned coal industry at a whopping 14.3 percent. Saudi Aramco, the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, produced 4.5 percent of global carbon emissions. Gazprom OAO, an oil company that is largely state-owned by the Russian government, was the third largest contributor at 3.9 percent.
Prominent oil and gas corporations ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron all made the top 12 largest contributors of carbon emissions in the report.
CDP technical director Pedro Faria asserted that the new report "pinpoints how a relatively small set of fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions."
Several countries have sought action to reduce their industries' carbon output. On July 6, French Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot announced that his country would prohibit the further sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2040, hoping to make France carbon neutral by 2050, according to BBC.
The Netherlands and Norway have already announced plans to shift toward exclusively electric-powered vehicles by 2025. Germany and India have set similar goals for 2030.
The Trump administration has decidedly moved toward bolstering the fossil fuel industry. President Donald Trump had withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord, an international agreement between over 190 countries to reduce their carbon footprint, while Energy Secretary Rick Perry has called for a reduction in subsidies for renewable energies.
On June 20, the U.S. Climate Leadership Council called for the Trump administration to enact a carbon tax to pressure fossil fuel industries to shift toward renewable energies, The Huffington Post reports.
Some fossil fuel industries are doubling down on their oil production. On July 10, Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser announced that his corporation would invest $300 billion over the next decade to increase its oil production and explore more natural gas resources, Bloomberg reports.
"There seems to be a growing belief that the world can prematurely disengage from proven and reliable energy sources like oil and gas, on the mistaken assumption that alternatives will be rapidly deployed," Nasser said.
Senior program adviser Charlie Kronick of Greenpeace UK has asserted that the market has already made a tectonic shift toward renewable energies, warning that fossil fuel industries that do not seek to limit their carbon output will find themselves at odds with the rest of the world in the coming decades.
"The future of the oil industry has already been written: the choice is will its decline be managed, returning capital to shareholders to be reinvested in the genuine industries of the future, or will they hold on, hoping not be the last one standing when the music stops?" Kronick said.