It is important to acknowledge where most of the current greenhouse gas emissions come from. The world still gets about 80 percent of its energy from fossil fuels and this generates the lion’s share of emissions. According to the EIA, in 2017, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from burning fossil fuels for energy were equal to about 76 percent of total U.S. anthropogenic GHG emissions (based on global warming potential) and about 93 percent of total U.S. anthropogenic CO2 emissions. As reported by MIT, as of 2011, the burning of fossil fuels was responsible for more than 36.6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution (MIT, 2012). We continue to burn fossil fuels at a prodigious rate.
We know that transitioning away from fossil fuels to low emissions alternatives is an essential part of reducing the emissions we generate but this transition is not happening fast enough. Research conducted by Rathi et al indicates that our dependence on dirty energy is here for decades to come. The world currently consumes 100 million barrels of oil each day, and even the most optimistic scenarios estimate that by mid-century, we will still be consuming tens of millions of barrels each day. And because emissions keep rising, we no longer have the luxury of waiting for the energy transition to happen on its own.
According to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), since the Paris Agreement, global banks have invested 1.9 trillion U.S. dollars in fossil fuels. One hundred companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions and over half of the global emissions can be traced back to 25 companies and entities. The companies responsible for the most carbon emissions are all in the fossil fuel industry: Saudi Aramco, Chevron, Gazprom, ExxonMobil, National Iranian Oil Co., BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Coal India, Pemex, and Petróleos de Venezuela. The first two emitters alone are responsible for more than 100 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions. According to research by Sawe, the G20 countries account for almost 80 percent of total emissions.
The 10 Biggest Carbon-dioxide Emitting Firms In The World (1965 to 2017)
- Saudi Aramco, 59.26 billion tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent produced
- Chevron, 43.35 billion tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent produced
- Gazprom, 43.23 billion tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent produced
- ExxonMobil 41.90 billion tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent produced
- National Iranian Oil Co., 35.66 billion tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent produced
- BP, 34.02 billion tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent produced
- Royal Dutch Shell, 31.95 billion tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent produced
- Coal India, 23.12 billion tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent produced
- Pemex, 22.65 billion tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent produced
- Petróleos de Venezuela, 15.75 billion tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent produced
Together these top ten carbon-emitting companies have generated more than 350 billion tonnes of carbon Our addiction to fossil fuels is unrelenting with emissions of approximately 36 billion tons of CO2-equivalent per year. In this context, COVID-19 may reduce emissions. Although China saw a 25 percent decrease in emissions, government subsidies risk undermining these reductions.