Back in October of 2016, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists did an interview with researcher Richard Heede, who had just completed a dozen years’ work to pin down the exact carbon contributions of all the oil, coal, and gas producers (and cement makers) since the industrial revolution kicked into high gear. At that time, Heede’s findings seemed stunning enough, as can be seen from the title of our 2016 interview: “Just 90 companies are accountable for more than 60 percent of greenhouse gases.”
Now, however, things have kicked up another notch. In the time since our original Bulletin story, Heede has sharpened his focus still further, and narrowed his timeline to just the period since 1965—the point when the climate effects of fossil fuels became known to industry leaders. His stunning new findings were the focus of an entire package of a half-dozen stories on the front page of today’s Guardian in a new section called “The Polluters;” the takeaway is that a mere 20 fossil fuel companies are directly linked to more than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the modern era.