Which Companies Are Responsible For the Most Carbon Emissions?
20 Companies Responsible For the Most Carbon Emissions?
Since 1965, it’s estimated over 1.35 trillion metric tons of greenhouse gases have been released into the atmosphere—and over a third can be traced back to just 20 companies.
This week’s chart draws on a dataset from the Climate Accountability Institute, and highlights the companies which have been responsible for the most carbon emissions in the past half-century.
Note: Carbon emissions are measured in MtCO₂e: Megatonnes of CO₂ equivalent (Millions).
The Sum of their Carbon Emissions
Between 1965-2017, the top 20 companies have contributed 480,169 MtCO₂e in total carbon emissions, or 35% of cumulative global emissions. This whopping amount is mostly from the combustion of their products—each company on this chart deals in fossil fuels.
The largest contributor? Saudi Aramco, the national petroleum and natural gas company of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Aramco actually comes in first on another list as well—it’s the most profitable company, making over $304 million daily.
However, this financial gain came at a significant cost: the state-owned giant’s operations have resulted in 59,262 MtCO₂e in carbon emissions since 1965. To put that into perspective, this total is more than six times China’s emissions in 2017 alone (9,838 MtCO₂e).
Explore the full list of companies by location, who owns them, and their total 1965–2017 emissions count below:
|Company||Country||Ownership||All Emissions, MtCO₂e|
|Saudi Aramco||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||State-owned||59,262|
|Exxon Mobil||🇺🇸 U.S.||Investor-owned||41,904|
|National Iranian Oil Co.||🇮🇷 Iran||State-owned||35,658|
|Royal Dutch Shell||🇳🇱 Netherlands||Investor-owned||31,948|
|Coal India||🇮🇳 India||State-owned||23,124|
|Petroleus de Venezuela||🇻🇪 Venezuela||State-owned||15,745|
|Peabody Energy||🇺🇸 U.S.||Investor-owned||15,385|
|Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.||🇦🇪 UAE||State-owned||13,840|
|Kuwait Petroleum Corp.||🇰🇼 Kuwait||State-owned||13,479|
|Iraq National Oil Co.||🇮🇶 Iraq||State-owned||12,596|
|Total SA||🇫🇷 France||Investor-owned||12,352|
|BHP Billiton||🇦🇺 Australia||Investor-owned||9,802|
|Total Emissions||480,169 MtCO₂e|
A Greener Business Model?
According to the researchers, all the companies that show up in today’s chart bear some responsibility for knowingly accelerating the climate crisis even after proven scientific evidence.
In fact, U.S.-based Exxon Mobil is currently on trial for misleading investors: the company downplayed the effect of climate change on its profitability, while internal calculations proved to be much larger. It also sowed public doubt on the immense impacts of rising greenhouse gas levels on the planet.
Growing sustainability and environmental concerns threaten the viability of old business models for these corporations, causing many to pivot away from the fossil fuel focus. Take BP for example—originally named British Petroleum, the company embraced “Beyond Petroleum” as its new rallying cry. More recently, it launched a carbon footprint calculator and is committed to keeping its carbon emissions flat into 2025.
The first step to reducing your emissions is to know where you stand. Find out your #carbonfootprint with our new calculator & share your pledge today!— BP (@BP_plc) October 22, 2019
However, the Climate Accountability Institute argues that more can still be done, with the researchers calling for these companies to reduce their fossil fuel production in the near future.
Continued pressure on these “Big Oil” companies to peak their carbon emissions, and urgently increase their renewable energy investment, may help curb the climate crisis before it’s too late.
Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly reported the total cumulative value of carbon emissions in millions instead of trillions. Both the article and graphic have been updated to reflect the changes accurately.
Big Oil Profits Reached Record High Levels in 2022
This visual highlights the five big oil companies that doubled their individual profits and earned a cumulative profit of over $200 billion in 2022.
Big Oil Profits Reached Record High Levels in 2022
Last year was a great year for oil companies.
Global crude oil prices had already escalated as global economies began recovering, and demand increased after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shot these prices further up as fossil fuel trade fell under the microscope.
In this graphic, Vipul Sharma of Mastermind Investor uses accumulated earnings data from Energy Monitor to highlight the five companies that made a cumulative profit of over $200 billion in 2022.
The Five Big Oil Winners
Within the span of one year, the five Big Oil companies — ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, and TotalEnergies — more than doubled their profits.
|Company||Profit 2021||Profit 2022|
Securing a total profit of $59.2 billion, U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil recorded the highest total of the lot. In 2021, the company’s profits were $23 billion or less than half of 2022’s haul.
It was joined by Chevron, whose profits rose by over 134% to $36.5 billion, and Shell, whose profit of $39.9 billion was the highest in the company’s 115-year history.
Where Will This Money Go?
One of the main focuses of the COP27 conference in Egypt last year was the global attempt to phase down fossil fuels and move to clean energy.
So far, these massive profits have largely gone to stock buybacks and reinvesting in shareholders. With lower oil prices so far in 2023, how will Big Oil react and spend moving forward?
Misc2 weeks ago
Ranked: The Cities with the Most Skyscrapers in 2023
War4 weeks ago
Map Explainer: Sudan
Urbanization2 weeks ago
Ranked: The World’s Biggest Steel Producers, by Country
Travel4 weeks ago
Visualized: The World’s Busiest Airports, by Passenger Count
Visual Capitalist2 weeks ago
Join Us For Data Creator Con 2023
Technology4 weeks ago
Visualizing Global Attitudes Towards AI
Economy1 week ago
Charted: Public Trust in the Federal Reserve
Visual Capitalist4 weeks ago
Calling All Data Storytellers to Enter our Creator Program Challenge