Evaluating fossil fuel companies’ alignment with 1.5 °C climate pathways

Saphira Rekker, Guangwu Chen, Richard Heede, Matthew C. Ives, Belinda Wade, Chris Greig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Limiting the global average temperature rise to 1.5 °C requires an unprecedented reduction in fossil fuel use, along with large-scale deployment of CO2 capture and storage. To track the fossil fuel industry and companies against 1.5 °C-consistent pathways, we propose a new methodology that complements existing methodologies in four main ways: (1) it uses publicly available data; (2) focuses on absolute fossil fuel production (as a proxy for embedded emissions) rather than carbon intensities associated with their use; (3) includes coal that is commonly excluded; and (4) is applicable regardless of whether the company has set a target. By applying this method, we evaluated the 142 largest producers of coal, oil and gas against three 1.5 °C IPCC Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSP1-1.9, SSP2-1.9 and SSP5-1.9) from 2014 and the International Energy Agency’s Net Zero Emissions pathway from 2020. Between 2014 and 2020, 64%, 63% and 70% of coal, oil and gas companies, respectively, produced more than their production budgets under the IPCC’s middle-of-the-road (SSP2-1.9) Paris Agreement-compliant scenario. In addition, if the 142 companies we examined continued their average growth rate trends from 2010 to 2018, they would produce up to 68%, 42% and 53% more than their cumulative production budgets for coal, oil and gas, respectively, by 2050. By providing such simple metrics, based on publicly available data, our method offers stakeholders a way of easily tracking and comparing the performance of different fossil fuel producers against climate goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)927-934
Number of pages8
JournalNature Climate Change
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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