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Just 100 companies are responsible for 71pc of greenhouse gases since 1988, report finds

(2017-07-10)The Chinese coal industry and stock market debutant Saudi Aramco have been named as the world’s biggest emitters of carbon dioxide.

As new data claims to have identified the top 100 emitters of greenhouse gases over the last three decades, a leading NGO has warned that natural  resources companies need to transform their business models to adapt to a low-carbon future.

Just 100 firms are responsible for 71pc of carbon dioxide gases released into the atmosphere since 1988, the year that climate change was first recognised as an international problem, according a report by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

Despite growing awareness of the role of fossil fuels in global warming, the CDP points out that the industry has “expanded prodigiously” since 1988, with coal use becoming even more prevalent. Approximately 833 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent were emitted between 1988 and 2015, compared to 820 gigatonnes between 1988 and the start of the industrial revolution in the 18th century.

The Chinese coal industry is by far and away the biggest culprit in CDP’s list, responsible for 14pc of emissions, followed by oil giant Saudi Aramco, on 4.5pc, and Russian company Gazprom, on 3.9pc. London-listed giants Shell and BP chart ninth and eleventh, with responsibility for 1.7pc and 1.5pc of emissions respectively.

The CDP is part-funded by private benefactors, governments and companies and counts former Financial Services Authority boss Lord Adair Turner as an advisor. To calculate its list, it used mostly publicly available data, and attributed all the fossil fuels burned in industry back to the producers that originally took them out of the ground.

“Our purpose is not to name and shame firms, our purpose is to provide transparency and call attention to the quite extraordinary fact that just 100 companies played a crucial role in the problem,” said Pedro Faria, technical director of the Carbon Majors Database. “It’s obvious they have a share of responsibility in the solution.”

While corporate transparency and self-reporting around emissions had improved, Mr Faria said that oil giants and mining companies needed transition plans in place for the shift to a low-carbon economy.

“There will be a shock in demand for their products and they should be preparing for that,” Mr Faria said. He suggested that companies needed to think about diversifying their portfolios away from fossil fuels, adopt more renewable energy, and invest in carbon capture and storage facilities, which take harmful CO2 out of the air and trap it.

CDP’s warning comes as more and more countries consider carbon pricing systems that will charge companies for each unit of harmful gases they produce.

A spokesman for BP said that it was “determined to be part of the solution” to climate change.

“Specifically, we’re calling for a price on carbon, increasing the proportion of natural gas in our business, investing in renewables and low-carbon innovation, and pursuing increasing energy efficiency,” he said.

A spokesman for Shell said it backed the goal of a "net-zero emissions world by 2050". "The greatest contribution we can make in the near term is providing more natural gas to replace coal in power generation, which reduces overall emissions in the global energy system," he said.

Diamond giant De Beers, part of Anglo American - which charted 31st on CDP’s list - recently announced plans to be the world’s first carbon neutral miner within five to 10 years. It wants to use waste rock from mining to absorb carbon in the atmosphere through a process called mineral carbonation.

“Since the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, there has been a huge jump in carbon pricing schemes,” said Dr Evelyn Mervine, a geologist at De Beers. “What’s clear is there will be carbon pricing by 2030s - it will be a cost of doing business.”

Source:Business
Date:Jul 11,2017