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Top 20 polluters, include Shell (at No 7)

Message sent to all members of the Guardian newspaper

This week we are running a powerful new series called The polluters, in which The Guardian’s team of environmental journalists around the world have investigated the impact of the fossil fuel industry — as well as the structures behind it — which are driving the climate emergency.

The reporting reveals the 20 fossil fuel companies whose relentless exploitation of the world’s oil, gas and coal reserves can be directly linked to more than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the modern era. In a video explainer, the Guardian’s global environment editor, Jonathan Watts, details how these firms have continued to expand their operations despite being aware of the industry’s devastating impact on the planet since at least the 1950s, and this excellent timeline shows the shocking levels of denial.

Richard Heede, who leads the Climate Accountability Institute’s Carbon Majors project, which traces carbon dioxide emissions to oil, gas, and coal producers, and whose research was the basis of this investigation writes:

In my view, fossil fuel firms were morally and legally obliged to warn that continued use of carbon fuels threatens our health and welfare, and to accelerate the conversation on how to reduce the threat. Instead the industry has for decades invested millions in climate denial and obfuscation in order to delay legislative action and avoid losing market share.

The pursuit of next quarter’s profits must be shifted to embrace climate stewardship, or we leave as our legacy a bereft planet and a broken moral compass. We preside over our own future, and we owe it to our descendants and ourselves to eliminate climate change as a threat to our survival well before mid-century. Let’s get on with it.

You can read a lot more detailed reporting on The polluters project here.

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