The 90 companies that ate the planet

Chevron, Exxon, BHP, Rio Tinto and BP are among 90 companies responsible for producing two-thirds of all global warming-causing

Imagine if we found out exactly who was systematically destroying the habitability of Earth? If we had their names and addresses? Wouldn't a responsible society make them stop the destruction?

Climate researcher and author Richard Heede at the Climate Accountability Institute in Colorado has done a study which found that just 90 companies — among them Chevron, Exxon, BHP, Rio Tinto and BP — have been responsible for producing two-thirds of all global warming-causing emissions.

These 90 companies have released a total of 914 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent, according to Heede's analysis of historic production records dating from 1854 to 2010. Half of the estimated emissions were produced just in the past 25 years.

In releasing the report, Heede noted that although there are thousands of oil, gas and coal producers in the world, “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.”

As yet society has not been able to stop the destructive behaviour of these very powerful people, let alone bring them to account.

Even while bodies continue to be found in the rubble in the Philippines after climate-change enhanced Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, another climate summit was collapsing in Warsaw, Poland.

The representatives of the world's poorest countries, together with environmentalists, walked out of the summit in the face of the governments of the richest countries’ refusal to keep to even modest targets set in the previous Copenhagen climate summit and to make funds available to mitigate the effects of global warming on the poorest countries.

It is unconscionable.

It also reveals very clearly that human survival now rests on whether the concentration of wealth and power can be taken out of the hands of a few.

The world has become a very twisted place. The latest Suisse Credit report on wealth distribution says the world's richest 1% own 41% of all wealth, the top 10% own 86% while the bottom half own just 1%. And the richest effectively control far more than the wealth they own.

Two coachloads of rich and powerful people are dictating the future of the world, and not for the common good. If we don't break their power, these will be the people who ran the 90 companies that ate the planet.

If you support system change, then you should help Green Left Weekly’s role in building the people's movement that can turn it into a reality. You can do this by taking out a Solidarity Subscription or making a donation online to our fighting fund.

Direct deposits can also be made to Greenleft, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account No. 00901992. Otherwise, you can send a cheque or money order to PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007 or donate on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia).

If you like our work, become a supporter

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.