Just fifty companies are responsible for producing 73 percent of the total carbon emitted by the largest 500 corporations on the planet, according to a new report released Wednesday. Those companies have done little to reduce their carbon footprints, and have actually seen their carbon emissions rise over the last four years.
Released by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the report calculates the carbon emissions of various corporations by industry: Wal Mart emits the most carbon for unit of revenue in the ‘consumer staples’ industry, Carnival in the ‘consumer discretionary’ industry, Exxon-Mobil in the energy industry, Bank of America in ‘financial,’ Bayer in ‘healthcare,’ Samsung in ‘information technology,’ Verizon in the ‘telecommunications.’
The report also indicates that energy companies hold the largest share of the blame for a bleak sustainability outlook. They perform below average on three different measures of sustainability practices: Emissions performance, strategy, and what the authors call “verification / stakeholder engagement.” (Utility companies, by comparison, perform above average on every one of these measures.) The report adds that energy companies are also doing the least to change their carbon emissions practices:
With one of the highest overall emissions of all sectors – the [Energy] sector is responsible for 28.3% of total reported Global 500 scope 1 and 2 emissions – efforts to reduce emissions in the energy sector are essential to the global mitigation of climate change. However, 50% of energy companies have a performance band of C or lower. Since 2009, the overall emissions of the ten biggest emitters in the sector have increased by 53%. The sector also has the highest number of companies without emission reduction targets (24%), which companies justify by concerns that targets would constrain growth in their companies and in the wider economy.
Interestingly, in the breakdown of the energy companies, the report found that Russian oil giant Gazprom has the dirtiest energy by revenue, emitting about 900 metric tons of carbon per unit of revenue, a standout even among the fossil fuel industry.
Some companies, even some of the highest emitters, have significantly reduced their emissions over time, the report’s authors point out. Those companies report that investment in a “dedicated budget for energy efficiency” has been one of the key factors in increasing sustainability. But the report’s authors also point out that disclosure is still low, and these large companies are still not offering transparency on some of the most high-carbon parts of their supply chains.