Corporations and Global Warming: The Dirty Facts on Corporate Carbon Emissions

A recently published report by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) sheds light on the role companies, and investors play in combating climate change. The Carbon Majors Database reveals that just 100 of the hundreds of thousands of companies worldwide have been responsible for 71% of the global GHG emissions that cause global warming since 1998.

CDP is a non-profit organization devoted to the global disclosure of information to assist governments, businesses, and investors in mitigating their ecological impact. According to the report, since 1988, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established, more than half of the world’s industrial emissions can be traced back to 25 state-owned corporations and organizations.

Investors Are the Key to Sustainable Corporations

Additionally, the CDP analysis finds that 32% of emissions come from publicly traded companies, putting investors a crucial player in the transition to a sustainable economy. These investors could put their financial assistance on the companies committed to decarbonizing the energy sector.

According to numerous analysts, investors who continue to hold stakes in fossil fuel businesses will find this strategy increasingly risky. The energy industry is going through accelerated change, and those who continue to invest in fossil fuels may soon be bag holders.

Suppose industries continue to exploit fossil fuels at the same rate as they have for the previous 28 years. In that case, it is anticipated that the global average temperature will rise by up to 4°C, which could lead to the extinction of several species and pose a severe threat to global food production.

Global Warming

Top Companies Producing Global Warming CO2

According to the CDP, 100 corporations were responsible for 71 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions between 1988 and 2015. The Carbon Majors Database report identifies the ten firms that emit the most carbon dioxide into the environment:

1. China Coal (14.3%)

Coal has been the primary driver of development in China’s economy, accounting for an average of 69.9 percent of the country’s total energy consumption from 1985 to 2016. China’s population has also been a significant consumer of coal. When coal is burned, it may create up to double the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) than other fossil fuels do. This has a serious negative impact on the environment.

China Coal

2. Saudi Aramco (4.5%)

Saudi Aramco has been the world’s largest oil company for nearly thirty years. The Saudi delegation has been actively sabotaging international attempts to cut carbon emissions, playing a key role in the greenhouse gas emission the earth now have.

3. Gazprom OAO (3.9%)

Russian Federation’s largest gas producer, Gazprom, is the third largest producer of greenhouse gases. Along with the Russian government, Russian companies continue releasing potentially hazardous quantities of greenhouse gases. Despite current environmental decrees, many environmental policy groups believe that the Russian government’s climate change initiatives are inadequate.

4. National Iranian Oil Co (2.3%)

The National Iranian Oil Company is a state-owned national producer and distributor of oil and natural gas. Natural gas is the largest contributor to Iran’s carbon emissions, followed by oil. Even with present environmental laws, it’s still hardly making a dent in curbing the massive emission of GHG.

5. ExxonMobil Corp (2.0%)

ExxonMobil is the leading oil and gas producer based on revenue, but this doesn’t come without a cause. They are responsible for almost all the GHG increase in the country’s atmosphere. From the 1980s through the mid-2000s, the company was a pioneer in climate change denial, arguing against policies aimed at reducing global warming.

6. Coal India (1.9%)

India is the third largest contributor to pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels, After China and the US. Half of India’s emissions are caused by the combustion of coal. Despite this, India still plans to triple its coal production by 2030, mining “black gold” from vast open-pit mines. Today, coal-burning power plants provide 65% of India’s electricity.

7. Petróleos Mexicanos (1.9%)

Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) has been accelerating the process at which it burns off excess methane, a process known as natural gas flaring, and has been ramping up production of high-sulfur fuel oil (HSFO), a highly polluting energy source.

8. Russia Coal (1.9%)

The expansion of the Russian coal sector boosts greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which will accelerate climate change. Europe’s energy giants, such as E. On and RWE are among the largest customers of Russian coal, and their increasing demand for Russian coal is a factor in these massive emissions.

9. Royal Dutch Shell PLC (1.7%)

Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which vowed to decrease its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, has the highest methane intensity among the 15 largest oil firms, according to data collated by Geofinancial Analytics and initially published by Reuters.

10. China National Petroleum Corp (1.6%)

The number of total greenhouse gases emitted by Asia’s largest oil refiner, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, increased for a second consecutive year in 2021, while the amount of methane recovered increased by nearly 20% compared to the previous year’s levels.

On the brighter side of the spectrum, many major firms support the transition to a carbon-free economy and have committed to acquiring energy from renewable sources. Apple, Facebook, Google, Ikea, and the Chinese giant Sinopec are the corporations spearheading this transformation.

Manipulation of the Climate Narrative

For decades, fossil fuel industries have hampered efforts to transition to sustainable energy by spreading public uncertainty about climate science and peddling a false narrative about how consumers are the ones responsible for the climate crisis.


In light of the fact that they have been at the forefront of efforts to discredit climate change, fossil fuel corporations have mainly been responsible for shaping widespread misconceptions within the public – just like how the tobacco industry sought doubt about the studies that cigarettes host a myriad of health problems.

This is the reason “why a good chunk of society is convinced that the science is debatable and uncertain and we shouldn’t do anything” – Richard Heede, a climate scientist

This continuous climate denial by the fossil fuel sector in the United States explains why only 10 percent of Americans view climate change as a major threat to their country compared to the international median.

Brighter Forward

According to a 2019 United Nations research, it will be just over a decade before the Earth hits its climate change threshold. While planning and implementing a personal reaction to climate change is advised, large firms and businesses must respond effectively. Only then can we reduce the consequences of human-induced climate change.

It is undeniable that human activity is causing climate change to accelerate at a frightening rate. The science is irrefutable and what we must do is urgent and overwhelming. We are in a race against time. This is not something that is going to happen later. It’s happening now, in real time. Instead of pointing fingers at who to blame, we should all work together towards a common goal of transitioning towards a low-carbon economy and reducing carbon emissions.  

Related: Net Zero Emissions, 5 Major Greenhouse Gases, Problems With Commuting and How to Tackle Them

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