This report represents the research and views of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of the Center on Global Energy Policy. The piece may be subject to further revision. Contributions to SIPA for the benefit of CGEP are general use gifts, which gives the Center discretion in how it allocates these funds. More information is available at Our Partners. Rare cases of sponsored projects are clearly indicated.
For a full list of financial supporters of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University SIPA, please visit our website at Our Partners. See below a list of members that are currently in CGEP’s Visionary Annual Circle.
(This list is updated periodically)
Breakthrough Energy LLC
Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF)
State-owned enterprises (SOEs) play a major role in the production of goods and services across many of the world’s largest economies, particularly in electricity generation, oil and gas, and heavy industry. SOEs (defined in this report as companies for which 50 percent or more of voting shares are held by a government) are also major sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
The governments that control these SOEs are also signatories to the Paris Agreement on climate change. State ownership provides these governments with a major direct point of control over the climate and energy outcomes of these companies, both in terms of reducing emissions and directing future investment into low-carbon technologies and infrastructure. Improving the measurement of SOEs’ contribution to both national and global-level emissions provides important information to help understand to what extent SOEs should be targeted and to design strategies to maximize their potential role in the broader energy transition.
This report provides an accounting of direct emissions associated with SOEs globally. It is challenging to comprehensively identify every SOE, as the total is estimated at well over 100,000. In addition, most identified SOEs do not disclose their emissions nor are estimates of these emissions available in the public domain. Despite these limitations, data compiled for this report covering almost 300 major SOEs suggest that SOEs globally are responsible for at least 7.49 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) annually in direct (Scope 1) emissions. While the true scale of SOE-related emissions is likely to be substantially higher, particularly when accounting for national oil companies and iron and steel manufacturers that do not currently report their emissions, this figure is over 1 GtCO2e greater than various previous estimates, and larger than the total annual emissions of any country except China.
Additional findings from this report include the following:
Earlier this month, OPEC+ leaders Saudi Arabia and Russia announced further voluntary production and export cuts, with the former alone accounting for nearly half of the OPEC+ aggregate.
National oil companies (NOCs) produce about half of the world’s oil and own the bulk of oil and gas reserves. They are also large issuers of bonds held by international financial institutions. Their ESG risks should be a matter of great concern.
Achieving the goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 requires a substantial reduction in the share of high-emitting fossil fuels in primary energy consumption.