Lawsuits against private firms for climate disaster compensation
may not be winnable yet, but important groundwork is being laid. In
groundbreaking peer-reviewed research, researcher Richard
Heede of the Climate Accountability Institute offers the
most complete picture to date of which institutions have extracted
the fossil fuels that have been the root cause of global warming
since the Industrial Revolution. Rather than just attribute
emissions to nations, the study aggregates historical emissions
according to carbon producing entities themselves. Heede concludes
that nearly two-thirds of carbon dioxide emitted since the
1750s can be traced to the 90 largest fossil fuel and cement
producers, most of which still operate today.
For example, the top twenty emitters among oil and natural gas
liquids companies are:
Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia years 1938- 2010 108,050
million barrels 40,133 Mt CO2.
Chevron, USA 1912- 2010 98,492 36,583
ExxonMobil, USA 1884- 2010 79,658 29,587
BP, UK 1913- 2010 69,684 25,883
National Iranian 1928- 2010 63,130 23,448
Royal Dutch Shell, The Netherlands 1892- 2010 56,962
This kind of research can lay the groundwater for successful
lawsuits for climate disasters, somewhere in the world. As the
Chevron Ecuador case has shown, a court judgement anywhere can lead
to a search for assets around the world to satisfy it. I wonder how
many of these firms deal with climate liability risks on their
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