• 7 September 2017

Emissions from top Fossil Fuel producers found to be responsible for up to half of global temperature rises

A new study published today is the first to directly link global climate change to the product-related emissions of specific fossil fuel producers, including BP and Shell.

Photo: curraheeshutter / Shutterstock.com

The study, co-authored by ECI's Professor Myles Allen, focussed on emissions from the world’s largest gas, oil and coal producers, and cement manufacturers. It calculated the amount of sea level rise and global temperature increase resulting from the carbon dioxide and methane emissions from their products, as well as their extraction and production processes.

The results showed that emissions from the 90 largest carbon producers were found to contribute approximately half of the observed rise in global average temperatures and 30 percent of global sea level rise since 1880. Meanwhile 16% of the temperature rises were traced to 50 investor-owned carbon producers, which include BP, Shell, Total and ExxonMobil.

“We’ve known for a long time that fossil fuels are the largest contributor to climate change,” said Brenda Ekwurzel, lead author and director of climate science at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). “What’s new here is that we’ve verified just how much specific companies’ products have caused the Earth to warm and the seas to rise.”

“Until a decade or two ago, no corporation could be held accountable for the consequences of their products’ emissions because we simply didn’t know enough about what their impacts were,” said ECI’s Myles Allen.

“This study provides a framework for linking fossil fuel companies’ product-related emissions to a range of impacts, including increases in ocean acidification and deaths caused by heat waves, wildfires and other extreme weather-related events.”

“We hope that the results of this study will inform policy and civil society debates over how best to hold major carbon producers – and, indeed, their customers, which includes pretty much everyone – accountable for their contributions to the problem.”

"We hope that the results of this study will inform policy and civil society debates over how best to hold major carbon producers – and, indeed, their customers, which includes pretty much everyone – accountable for their contributions to the problem.”

Professor Myles Allen

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