Fossil fuel companies leading the world in carbon emission rates


Isabel Stoller’22

As carbon emission rates continue to grow and our environment suffers the consequences of pollution, our Instagram feeds are flooded with ways on how to reduce our own carbon footprint. While these methods are great, they ignore the larger problem of the multimillion dollar companies that continue making a profit, all the while contributing to one of the worst environmental states our world has ever been in.

According to the carbon majors report from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), just 100 companies contribute to 71 percent of all the world’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). These levels are at the highest they have ever been according to National Geographic, and to think that almost two-thirds of all those emissions come from just one hundred companies is completely astounding, and frankly, disgusting.

I would be remiss to ignore the benefits of these companies and why they are still necessary. Most of these top companies are directly gas- and coal-related such as China Coal, Saudi Aramco, and ExxonMobil Corp (which together make up for 20.8 percent of all emissions). While these companies are fueled by the need of consumers, there are also a multitude of ways in which the emissions can be lowered.

Some companies such as Coca-Cola, have already taken action against their GHG emissions. In 2013 Coca-Cola created the “drink in your hand” initiative, which has cut their carbon footprint by 24 of their original 25 percent goal by the end of 2020. One way in which they did this was reducing the gas emissions from their delivery trucks by adding electric vehicles.

Another example of this is the online shopping site Etsy. When you buy a product from their site, there is a little message at the bottom of every order saying, “Etsy offsets carbon emissions from every delivery”. According to their site, Etsy is the first online shopping center to offset 100 percent of the carbon emissions created by the delivery process. They do this by funding verified emission reduction projects which then completely offset their carbon footprint.

We know it’s possible, and we know the ways other companies are correcting their emissions, so why is there still such a large gap between the carbon footprint of the top 100 companies and the rest of the world? There is no reason why the fate of all people should be affected by such a small number of companies, simply because switching over to more environmentally-friendly methods is more costworthy.

In another statistic from the Climate Accountability Institute from a press release in December 2020, the top 20 companies globally have produced 493 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide and methane, contributing to just over 35 percent of all fossil fuel emissions world wide since 1965. Meaning, this issue is not a surprise. These companies have been polluting air for years, and it is finally catching headlines and being brought to our attention.

While I do believe it’s important that we continue to educate ourselves and share ways we can help on social media, we must recognize that Instagram posts reminding us to shut off the lights when we leave a room are not the solution to this global scale issue. The problem is the companies who are actively continuing to pollute air while watching the masses scramble in an effort to reduce their own, inconsequential, carbon footprint.