Fossil Fuels (emissions) here to stay

Copyright: Reuters | Arnd Wiegmann

Copyright: Reuters | Arnd Wiegmann

Gone are the days of the fossil fuels golden age but we are still in a period of abundance. New supplies added to the world market have sent the price of oil plummeting by 40-60 percent and large amounts of new, cheaper carbon are now in our global energy pipeline. These shifts in global conditions raise important questions about the sources and global impact stemming from an abundance of carbon-intensive energy.

A Thomson Reuters’s new research – Global 500 Greenhouse Gas Report: The Fossil Fuel Energy Sector – reveals greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data from 32 global energy companies, a subset of the world’s largest publicly traded businesses. Data around consumers’ use of a company’s products are included to present a fuller view of the business’s overall contribution to GHG emissions. From 2010 to 2013, GHG emissions from the 32 energy companies and use of their products increased by 1.3 percent – a sharp contrast to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), which recommended in 2014 a 4.2 percent reduction of GHG emissions over the same time period to keep global temperatures within manageable limits.

“Since our last report, energy prices have decreased dramatically, economic conditions continue to improve and consumer habits remain unchanged, yet the data suggests that more progress needs to be made in curbing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Tim Nixon, director of Sustainability at Thomson Reuters, and a co-author of the report.

“While energy companies will need to play a leading role reducing greenhouse gas emissions, consumers and regulators must also play important roles if global greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced.”

In addition to contributions from the Carbon Disclosure Project and the Climate Accountability Institute, self-reported GHG emissions data was gathered from energy sector businesses and combined with estimates pulled from ASSET4 – a TR leading provider of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) data. ASSET4 gathers standardized, objective, quantitative and qualitative ESG data on more than 4,800 publicly listed companies.

“The main goal of this new report is to provide for greater transparency into this important sector of the Global 500 from a greenhouse gas perspective,” said John Moorhead, executive manager of BSD Consulting, and co-author of the report. “If we are to balance our needs for energy with our harmful effects on our environment and subsequent generations, it is critically important for energy consumers and producers alike to reduce total fossil fuel consumption, particularly in its most carbon intensive forms, and achieve the target of 1.4 percent or greater yearly reduction in GHG emissions.” Very distant goal. And we have done very little so far.

Eusebio Loria

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