The global emissions share: who is responsible?

Greenhouse gases are a big problem for the environment. The Earth is getting warmer under the greenhouse effect and our planet’s weather patterns are struggling to adapt to the changing climate. The most prevalent of the greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide, released into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. For a more sustainable future, oil and gas companies regularly flaring natural gas need to consider how to scale back emissions heavy processes.

Taking responsibility

The Carbon Majors Report has identified how “a relatively small set of fossil fuel producers hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions.” Published by environmental non-profit CDP – in collaboration with the Climate Accountability Institute – research findings identified 100 companies as the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. If fossil fuels continue to be extracted at the same rate as they have been since 1988, the global average temperature could rise 4°C by the end of the century.

The global corporations named in the report found themselves at the top of the table as the highest emitting investor-owned companies – responsible for one trillion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Attributing operational and product emissions from 1988 presents a producer-side view of accountability. The actions of these producers can, and should, play a pivotal role in the global energy transition.

Getting started

Fossil fuel extraction companies should focus on implementing a transition plan that will minimise the risks imposed by climate change.

This can begin with introducing emissions targets or certain scenarios for when fossil fuel extraction is applicable. While gas is often flared for safety reasons, a large proportion of natural gas is still flared as the main method of disposal for facilities that do not have the infrastructure to capture, transport and monetise it.

Eradicating routine flaring and introducing emissions targets will contribute to a decoupling of growth and emissions, maximising the achievable growth of a company even under an emissions cap.

Giving the green light

Oil and gas companies are already embarking on green investments. Shell set up a renewables arm in 2015 with investment of $1.7bn and Chevron is “committed to managing its greenhouse gas emissions”, investing in two of the world’s largest carbon dioxide injection projects to capture and store carbon. ExxonMobil is even exploring carbon capture and storage.

July 14, 2017 | News

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