So, there is this polluter-pays principle.
And, now we clearly now who the ‘polluter’ is with regards to climate change.
According to a new study – published today in The Guardian – “Just 90 companies [with headquarters in 43 countries] caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions. Chevron, Exxon and BP among companies most responsible for climate change since dawn of industrial age.”
“There are thousands of oil, gas and coal producers in the world,” climate researcher and author Richard Heede at the Climate Accountability Institute in Colorado said. “But the decision makers, the CEOs, or the ministers of coal and oil if you narrow it down to just one person, they could all fit on a Greyhound bus or two.
Half of the estimated emissions were produced just in the past 25 years – well past the date when governments and corporations became aware that rising greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of coal and oil were causing dangerous climate change.
All but seven of the 90 were energy companies producing oil, gas and coal. The remaining seven were cement manufacturers.
See the interactive chart here:
So: The ones that have pushing this world – our Earth – further and further into a trajectory of a 5 degree C rise in temperature – are so few as to fit on one or two buses, and none of them can claim ignorance (although “several of the top companies on the list had funded the climate denial movement”)!
And, yes, I wrote: a 5 degree rise in temperature.
According to a report published two days ago:
“Global CO2 emissions are projected to rise 2.1 percent higher than 2012, the previous record high, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Global Carbon Project. This increase is slightly less than the 2000-2013 average of 3.1 percent, said lead author Corinne Le Quéré of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the UK.
These hard numbers demonstrate that the U.N. climate talks have failed to curb the growth in emissions. And there is little optimism that the latest talks known as COP19 here in Warsaw will change the situation even with the arrival of high-level ministers Wednesday.
Global emissions continue to be within the highest scenario of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “This is a five-degree C trajectory. It’s absolutely tragic for humanity to be on this pathway,” Le Quéré said.
Remember the documentary – An Inconvenient Truth? Well, the danger that Al Gore discussed in his award-winning documentary were about a 2 degree C rise in temperature. Not a 5 degree C rise.
We need to also remember that these 90 companies are represented by governments (many of whom claim to be leaders of democracies). And it is these governments who are also deciding who will live and who will die.
Yesterday, the executive director of the Philippines Climate Change Commission, Mary Ann Lucille Sering, gave a moving address to her fellow climate change delegates at the U.N. climate summit in Warsaw, Poland. “Every time we attend this conference, I’m beginning to feel that we are negotiating on who is to live and who is to die,” Sering says.
But other governments are not meekly standing by.
As reported by Democracy Now “A group of 133 developing nations have walked out of a key part of the climate talks in Warsaw, Poland, amidst a conflict over how countries who have historically emitted the most greenhouse gases should be held financially responsible for some of the damage caused by extreme weather in nations with low carbon emissions. The United States, Australia, Canada and other industrialized countries are pushing for the issue — known as loss and damage — to be put off until after the 2015 climate talks in Paris.
Venezuela is part of this group, as is China and India.
“When you see developed countries being so bold to tell you that they are not even considering reducing their emissions, that they are not even considering paying for the costs that those inactions have on the life of others, that is really rude and hard to handle it politically,” says Claudia Salerno, the lead climate negotiator for Venezuela, which is a member of the G77+China group that walked out. “We are heading to a point in which countries are not ready to take responsibility for their acts, and in this case, even more pathetic, they are not wanting to be.”
And these governments are doing more than simply refusing to be held financial accountable.
Fortunately: Salerno explains one way how these governments are responding: “So, Venezuela next year will host the first formal social consultation of every single social movement involved in the climate change agenda, with three preparation processes in advance of that pre-COP. And then, for the first time, instead of having ministers listening to each other’s the same statements and stubbornness, we are going to have ministers listen to their people about what is the kind of ambition and the kind of agreement the world wants to have—but the world’s side, not the governmental approach.”
The struggle continues…