Eight fossil fuel majors emitted as much pollution as the U.S. did

By Jess Shankleman on Bloomberg News, 8 March 2017, Eight Fossil Fuel Majors Seen Polluting as Much as the U.S.

Eight of the world’s largest oil companies are responsible for as much of the climate-damaging pollution spewed into the atmosphere as the entire U.S., according to a study by a London-based researcher.

Saudi Aramco, Exxon Mobil Corp., OAO Gazprom, the National Iranian Oil Co., BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc were among the eight companies whose fuel was responsible for a third of emissions from oil and gas, according to the non-profit group CDP. The companies released a fifth of all greenhouse gases outside of farming and forestry since 1988, the year most governments acknowledged man-made climate change as a risk. 

The findings suggest policymakers may be better off focusing on the practices of companies instead of national environmental policies. The study’s release coincides with preparations by U.S. President Donald Trump to slash environmental regulations and possibly withdraw from the landmark Paris Agreement, which promises to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial levels.

“One way to really drive forward climate action is to look at the key producers of fossil fuels who are causing the globe to warm, this is what the new CDP data brings to life,” said Paul Simpson, chief executive officer of CDP, which surveys companies and collects data on sustainability issues.

CDP analyzed 50 oil and gas companies, gauging their direct emissions and pollution from the use of their products dating back to 1854.

The whole oil and gas industry combined produced about 40 percent of the world’s 832 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent released in the past three decades, according to CDP.

QuickTakeClimate Change

Saudi Arabia’s national oil company, Saudi Arabian Oil Co., which is also known as Aramco, was named the biggest emitter, responsible for almost five percent of industrial carbon pollution over that time.

China National Petroleum Corp and Petroleos Mexicanos complete the list of the eight companies that in 2015 emitted 6.59 gigatons of CO2 equivalent. That’s almost the same amount as the U.S. emitted that year.  Several calls to CNPC and China Petrochemical Corp. weren’t answered. An email to CNPC and a fax to Sinopec seeking comment didn’t get a reply. Officials at Aramco didn’t have an immediate comment.

“BP is playing its part by calling for a price on carbon, providing lower-carbon products including natural gas and renewables, pursuing energy efficiency and supporting research,” a spokesman for the company said. Gazprom’s press service declined to comment.

While countries have spent decades making painstakingly slow progress toward action on climate change, the report from CDP says that a small group of commercial decision makers have been responsible for the majority of emissions from their industry. Companies in the industry note that they’re producing a product that consumers need and that’s both legal and encouraged by governments seeking to power their economies.

Exxon Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods earlier this week challenged the notion that economic growth means more pollution. He noted his company’s investment in carbon capture technology, biofuels, research to improve refining processes and fuel-saving technologies that if applied across the U.S. could avoid greenhouse gases equal to removing 8 million cars from the road.

“All of us share the same aspiration, to live in a world that is clean and safe and prosperous,” Woods said in a speech at the CERAWeek by IHS Markit conference on Tuesday in Houston. “Affordable energy plays an important role in achieving this.”

“The facts are the facts,” said Michael Tadeo, spokesman for American Petroleum Institute, in an email. “The United States is leading the world in the production and refining of oil and natural gas and in the reduction of carbon emissions which are at their lowest levels in more than 20 years.”

Watch Next: Meltdown: The Science Behind Climate Change

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Trump Met Russian Ambassador at Reception During Campaign

  • Meeting at odds with spokeswoman’s denial of any contacts
  • Event resurfaces amid attention to aides’ Russia encounters

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Trump’s Russia Links to Be Focus of House Hearing

Trump’s Russia Links to Be Focus of House Hearing

President Donald Trump met last April with the Russian ambassador at the center of a pair of controversies over engagement between Trump allies and the Kremlin, despite claims by his spokeswoman that he had “zero” involvement with Russian officials during the campaign.

Attention to Trump’s encounter with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak resurfaced after revelations last week that at least five members of Trump’s campaign team — including Attorney General Jeff Sessions — had contact with Kislyak before Trump took office.

The federal government has launched multiple investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and potential contacts between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

QuickTakeTrump-Russia Saga

Trump met Kislyak during a VIP reception April 27, 2016, at the Mayflower Hotel shortly before a foreign policy address, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. In the speech, Trump said an “easing of tensions and improved relations with Russia” is possible.

The Wall Street Journal article, published May 13, 2016, reported Trump “warmly greeted Mr. Kislyak and three other foreign ambassadors who came to the reception.”

White House officials described the encounter as brief and non-substantive, saying that Trump only attended the reception for five minutes and that multiple foreign ambassadors were present.

The Center for the National Interest, a nonprofit that hosted Trump’s speech, said that it invited Kislyak to attend and sat him in the front row of the audience with three other foreign ambassadors. “The Trump campaign had nothing to do with the seating arrangement,” the group said in a statement posted on its website on Wednesday.

No Recollection

The center said it invited the ambassadors to a “short reception” preceding Trump’s speech with about two dozen guests, who formed a receiving line for Trump.

“The line moved quickly and any conversations with Mr. Trump in that setting were inherently brief and could not be private,” the group said. “Our recollection is that the interaction between Mr. Trump and Ambassador Kislyak was limited to the polite exchange of pleasantries appropriate on such occasions.”

One of the White House officials said in a statement e-mailed on condition of anonymity that campaign staffers who were at the event “have no recollection of who he may have shaken hands with at the reception and we were not responsible for inviting or vetting guests. To state they met or that a meeting took place is disingenuous and absurd.”

But the meeting is at odds with White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders’ claim last week that Trump had “no interaction” with Russian government officials during the campaign.

“The big point here is the president himself knows what his involvement was, and that’s zero,” Sanders told reporters on March 3. “And I think that he’s the primary person that should be held responsible, and he had no interaction, and I think that’s what the story should be focused on.”

The encounter between Trump and Kislyak is in keeping with routine work by foreign diplomats who often seek contact with presidential campaigns of both parties during election season in order to report back analysis of potential impact to their governments.

Renewed Scrutiny

But the White House has come under renewed scrutiny over ties between campaign officials and Russia.

Sessions, who said during his confirmation hearings that he hadn’t had contact with Russian officials, acknowledged last week that he met the Russian ambassador twice during the election year, in response to media reporting on the meetings. He later recused himself from any Justice Department investigation into the Trump presidential campaign and amended his prior Senate testimony.

Read more: A Q&A on the twists in the Trump-Russia saga

Last month, former national security adviser Mike Flynn resigned after it was revealed he misled senior administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, about the content of his conversations with Kislyak.

The White House has also said Kislyak met with Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner.

Trump himself has dismissed allegations of improper ties with Russia as “a ruse.”

“I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years. Don’t speak to people from Russia,” he said during a February press conference.