Climate change is no longer an abstract concept that scientists and environmentalists discuss, but a reality of many people’s lives. Over the past few years record breaking and extreme weather events including sweltering summers, super-storms, wildfires and shrinking icecaps, alongside the acidifying of the oceans as more CO2 dissolves, are just a small taste of what may come.
The scientist Richard Heede, has done a research on the cumulative (historic) carbon emissions from 90 carbon producers, published in a paper called Tracing anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane emissions to fossil fuel and cement producers, 1854-2010 which was peer reviewed this year and is now published in the journal Climatic Change.
Based on the best available data, he has estimated the cumulative carbon pollution each producer has contributed to date and compared that to the best global estimates for emissions from all sources. It means those who have been the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions so far can now be named and challenged on their contribution to climate change and the impacts we are now experiencing.
Download Heede's full report, Carbon Majors: Accounting for carbon and methane emissions 1854-2010, here. [updated version 7 April 2014]
Find a short Greenpeace fact sheet about the research here.