That *One* Climate Report and What It Means

Before taking a hard look at changes we can make in our lives, I want to address a report I heard about in the media recently. Even though this was published over a year ago, I just recently read about the CPD’s research into the largest source of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. I came across its main statement through several secondary sources, which is that “100 active fossil fuel producers are linked to 71% of global industrial greenhouse gases (GHGs) since 1988.” Remember, greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane retain the heat from the sun’s light, and the increasing  presence of these gases yields higher overall temperatures. Hence, that whole “global warming” concern. Whatever that is … anyway!

The implication of this report, as I’ve been reading other places, is that while we can make individual efforts, clearly most of the responsibility for global warming concerns lies in the hands of these fossil fuel companies! And we should encourage them to change, or take our business elsewhere.

However, I found one source that clarified what exactly is included in the 71% of emissions. Here, a fact checking news source dug a little deeper, and here’s what they found:

We asked [the CPD] to clarify exactly what that meant.

They told us that of the total estimated cumulative greenhouse gas emissions released by human activity (excluding carbon dioxide from land use, land use change and forestry, and agricultural methane) between 1988 and 2015, 71% of those emissions originated from 100 fossil fuel producers. This includes the emissions from producing fossil fuels (like oil, coal and gas), and the subsequent use of the fossil fuels they sell to other companies.

So our use of fossil fuels is actually included in those figures, whether it’s the gas in our car, or the energy that heats our water and lights our houses. The companies that generate and distribute those fuels are the starting point, but many of our choices add to the demand for their products. However, the report on this study from one news source highlights:

By 1988, companies knew or should have known of the destabilising effects of their products on the environment, the CDP says. “Nonetheless, most companies have expanded extraction activities significantly in the time since, while non-carbon primary energy sources, such as renewables, have seen relatively very little investment.”

A major part of the problem is how limited our energy choices are. What can we actually do, then? For those that invest, turn your eyes toward clean energy development. If possible, look into solar power or other local clean energy alternatives. Reconsider your options for travel (is public transportation ever an option?) and how often you travel. Additionally, here are seven small but significant ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

We’ll explore more ideas like this in the future, with a focus on changes that will actually be easier on our wallets. I will make sure to exhaustively research as we go along (click link for comic relief!), and this week starts more frequent posts, so check back soon!

Had you heard of this report before?

What were your initial thoughts, and has your perspective on it changed at all?

Do you feel like the main task of environmental responsibility sits with business or individuals?

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