World’s top fossil fuel producers hold increasing power to influence emissions policy, says study

Nearly 50% of carbon pollution will come from fossil fuels produced by just 20 private and state-owned companies, if all pending mergers of top energy producers are approved, says a new study. The study's authors urge governments and environmentalists to pay more attention to how fossil fuel producers protect profits by influencing carbon emissions treaties and national legislation.


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Kingpins of Carbon: How Fossil Fuel Producers Contribute to Global Warning analysed the business activities of 122 of the world’s largest producers of carbon-based fuels. Published jointly by the US National Resources Defense Council, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the US Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, the study recommends that:

  • governments should require energy producers to report on the emission implications of investments around the world and to report on the carbon content of their fossil fuel production
  • America should reverse its policies and become a leader in reducing fossil fuel dependency
  • governments reject the idea that the US should not agree to carbon emission reductions until developing countries make reductions as well.

Using 1997 figures and adjustments for mergers announced since then, the study lists the World’s top 20 carbon producers. They are:

  • Saudi Aramco
  • China National Coal
  • Gazprom
  • BP Amoco-ARCO
  • National Iranian Oil Co.
  • PDVSA
  • Pemex
  • Exxon-Mobil
  • Coal India Ltd.
  • Shell
  • China National Petroleum Corp.
  • Sonatrach
  • SHCA-Poland
  • Kuwait Petroleum Co.
  • Rosugol
  • Peabody
  • RAG-Cyprus Amax
  • Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.
  • Pertamina
  • Chevron

In 1997, the world’s top 20 privately-owned carbon producers were as follows:

  • Gazprom
  • Shell
  • Exxon
  • Peabody
  • BP
  • ARCO
  • Chevron
  • Mobil
  • Lukoil
  • Cyprus Amax
  • Rio Tinto
  • Amoco
  • Texaco
  • Elf Acquitaine
  • ENI
  • BHP
  • INGWE
  • Consol
  • Total
  • Arch Coal

Using BP as an example, the report highlights the increasing power held by some fossil fuel producers. According to the study, if the newly-merged BP Amoco succeeds in acquiring ARCO, the resulting company will become the fourth-largest carbon producer in the world. Its combined production alone could amount to 3% of the 1997 world fossil fuel emissions.

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