Independent research exposes who is responsible for climate change: Gazprom and Shell star

Press release - 22 November, 2013
Amsterdam, 22 November 2013 - Just five oil companies — Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and ConocoPhilips — are ultimately responsible for emissions equivalent to nearly 12.5 % of cumulative historical global industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and methane, startling new research has shown [1].

This new report exposes the companies that have made major contributions to the climate crisis — and the investors that fund them — and for the first time calculates their contribution to global industrial emissions of greenhouse gases and potentially identifying their measure of culpability for climate change impacts.

The report comes as several leading civil society organizations walked out of the UN climate talks in Warsaw, Poland to protest the lack of progress in the negotiations and the failure of several governments to stand up to the fossil fuel industry.  A major impediment to progress in the climate negotiations has been the failure of rich countries to provide financing to compensate vulnerable countries for damages caused by the impacts of climate change.

"Fossil fuel companies plan to exploit untapped oil and coal reserves while our climate can't handle the amount of carbon that has already been emitted. These companies must be held accountable for the damages they have caused, and their plans to send us past a point of no return must be stopped," said Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International. "Until governments finally act, we will have no choice but to continue to intervene to prevent a climate catastrophe, acting as the Arctic 30 did against the most powerful industry on earth."

The peer-reviewed research published in Climatic Change on historic carbon emissions shows that the estimated emissions of 90 entities are equivalent to approximately 63 % of cumulative global emissions of industrial CO2 and methane (calculated as CO2  equivalents) between 1854 and 2010 [2].

The 90 entities are made up of 50 investor-owned companies, 31 state-owned enterprises and nine former and current states [3]. Cumulatively, emissions estimated for investor-owned companies amount to 315 Gt CO2 e (21.7%), for state-owned enterprises to 288 Gt CO2e  (19.8%) and for former and current states to 312 Gt CO2e (21.5%). Of these emissions estimated for carbon producers, half has been emitted since 1986.

The largest 10 investor-owned companies contributed an estimated 229.5 Gt of CO2e, equivalent to 15.8 % of the estimated cumulative historical global emissions through 2010. The 21 U.S. based companies included in this study alone contributed an estimated 172.6 Gt CO2e (12%) of global emissions through 2010. In 2010, investor-owned companies contributed 7,628 MtCO2e or 242 tCO2e per second (equivalent to 27.3%) to the atmosphere.

The results are, that the estimated emissions of those 90 entities amount to 914 Gt CO2e of cumulative world emissions of industrial CO2 and methane. The entities are comprised of 83 of the world’s largest fossil fuel entities (crude oil & NGLs, natural gas, and coal) plus cement manufacture´s emissions by 7 entities. The threshold for entities to be included in this study was set at the production of ≥8 million tonnes of carbon (MtC) in a recent year. Some entities have since been added, while others were absorbed through mergers or acquisitions.

"These findings provide a ground breaking development and a new building block in terms of potential legal outcomes to hold fossil fuel producers liable for damage caused by climate change," said Stephen Leonard, a lawyer and the President of the Climate Justice Programme.

The industry ranking was published after 28 Greenpeace International activists and two freelance journalists were detained at gunpoint by Russian security forces who seized their ship the Arctic Sunrise on September 19 after a peaceful protest at a Gazprom Arctic oil drilling platform. Taking action to demand climate protection, these 30 brave men and women have since spent the past two months in detention, charged with a crime they did not commit.

St. Petersburg courts have now granted bail to 26 members of the so-called Arctic 30, 15 of whom have been released. But Australian activist Colin Russell has had his bail request denied and the Arctic 30 still face at least one serious charge that could see them spend years in a Russian prison.

Gazprom, and its partner Shell, the two companies that are leading the charge to drill for oil in the pristine Arctic, ranked high on the list in the study. Gazprom ranks 5th in the top 20 investor and state-owned entities, while Shell is ranked at number six.

"This evidence should be further impetus for people all over the world to follow in the footsteps of the Arctic 30 by standing up to these companies. While those brave people could spend several years in a Russian jail, the real culprits — companies like Gazprom and Shell — are free to keep polluting the planet. They’re the ones who should be held accountable and forced to stop, not the peaceful protestors who stand up to them on behalf of all of us," said Ben Ayliffe, head of the Arctic oil campaign for Greenpeace International.

For more information, please contact:

Swati Jangle, Communications Manager Greenpeace International
Phone: +31 62 494 10 68
Email:

Joe Smyth, Greenpeace USA
Phone: +48 517 589 329 in Warsaw during UN climate talks
Phone: +1-831-566-5647 in Washington DC
Email: ">

NOTES

[1] In a ground-breaking, eight-year-long investigation, Rick Heede analysed the estimated emissions of carbon producers since 1854 until 2010. He then compared his results to data from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) database for fossil fuel CO2, flaring, and cement production which dates back to as early as 1751 (in the case of coal). The research is available at http://carbonmajors.org/

[2] Greenpeace International in cooperation with the Climate Justice Programme (CJP) commissioned Rick Heede to produce a methods and results report which is available at http://www.greenpeace.org/international/carbonclub/. Greenpeace International commissioned a peer-review of the report by Ecofys, a leading consultancy in energy and climate matters, to ensure verification of the produced data by an independent third party.

[3] Those former and current states are centrally planned economies. State-owned entities are therefore calculated separately.

ENDS

Categories