100 Companies Responsible for 71% of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

October 2018. The world was yet again warned about the life-or-death consequences of climate change. This warning, issued by the UN, was perhaps the most dire yet.

With this warning comes the standard question about solutions. "We have a monumental task in front of us, but it is not impossible," states Natalie Mahowald, a lead author on the report.

Cue the demands that proletarians become vegans, consume less and trade their cars for bicycles. These are noble causes that we should all support, but in the grand scheme of climate change they are red herrings meant to deflect accountability from the owners of production and the political bourgeoisie to the average individual worker bee. Businesses, the rich and politicians all have an inherent motivation for self-preservation, so it isn’t surprising they deflect accountability. Instructing the individual to own the solution by making lifestyle changes implies responsibility, shifting the focus away from the biggest emitters of greenhouse gasses.

We all share the blame and must work together to make a better world, but it is unfathomably rare for authorities to lay out the real changes our world must undertake. The truth hurts. ‘Big Money’ wishes to retain power by ostracizing radical change and by convincing us we can solve this problem by making relatively simple lifestyle changes, like switching to green dish-washing detergent. All the while, the true magnitude of the problem and scale of required solutions are obscured from view.

After all, how often is the topic of climate change raised in corporate team meetings? In contrast, other more palatable issues, such as gender diversity, are regularly discussed. Both issues are important. One issue is comparatively easy to solve, while solving the other requires a herculean effort that would undermine the foundation of the corporatocracy. I’ll let you figure out which is which.

Don’t get distracted. Solving climate change requires a focus on the biggest offenders:
  • 100 companies are responsible for 71% of the greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. One-freakin-hundred! Most of these are the massive fossil fuel behemoths you'd expect, yet somehow it’s up to Joe Blo to switch to biodegradable wipes to save the planet.
  • 15 ships emit as much nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide as the world’s 760 million cars. Fif-freakin-teen! These unregulated ships transport goods and commodities around the world, spewing vast amounts of crap into the air. Yet, saving the planet depends on Jane Smith to switch to a programmable thermostat.
Drawdown.org has listed the top solutions that would reduce atmospheric CO2 (table below). While there is a shared burden that individuals must accept, it is clear that a major responsibility lies in the arms of regulatory bodies, governments and businesses. Joe Blo can eat less meat and waste less food, but he doesn’t control the food distribution network, can't regulate the shipping industry and doesn’t know the first thing about refrigerant disposal.

So while the actions of many individuals can add up, people must force those in power to also take action. Real climate action requires tax policies, regulations, enforcement, pooled investment and potentially the nationalization of certain industries or companies. These measures are all beyond the control of the individual, so it is critical that individuals take action in the most powerful way they can – by voting.




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