Climate accountability as a fulcrum
for climate stewardship.

Welcome to Climate Accountability Institute.

News Update - 30 March 2018

ExxonMobil’s subpoena of Richard Heede and Climate Accountability Institute and our colleagues “is dead"
Judge Caproni rules against ExxonMobil’s attempt to block investigation:

John Schwartz, Court Dismisses Exxon's Effort to Block Climate Investigation, New York Times, 29 March 2018.

In separate action, Judge Alsup, Ninth Circuit Federal Court, requested that plaintiffs (Cities of San Francisco and Oakland) and defendants (Chevron, Exxon, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips) each respond to a set of eight questions in an unusual “climate science tutorial” in open court.

Kurtis Alexander, People cause climate change, but don't blame big oil, industry tells judge, San Francisco Chronicle, 21 March 2018.

More details on the questions (and science-based answers):
Umair Irfan, The judge in a federal climate change lawsuit wants a science tutorial, Vox, 21 March 2018.

And a related excellent article in the Guardian for context:
Damian Carrington, Can climate litigation save the world? The Guardian, 20 March 2018.

News Update - 15 December 2017

Richard Heede, "Carbon producers' tar pit: dinosaurs beware: The path to accountability of fossil fuel producers for climate change & climate damages," Institute for New Economic Thinking Plenary Conference, Edinburgh, 23 October 2017. INET feature and paper.

Selected publications and media mentions of CAI’s work

Economist, The (2017) New Green Advocates: Climate-change lawsuits, International Section, The Economist, 2 November.

Hulac, Benjamin (2017) Judge in Exxon case links climate skepticism with flat Earth, E&E News, 15 December.

News Update – 7 September 2017

Press Release: In a peer-reviewed study published today in the leading journal Climatic Change, the Climate Accountability Institute and colleagues with Union of Concerned Scientists and University of Oxford, demonstrated a methodology for attributing and apportioning climate impacts among major carbon producers and identified potential responsibilities of key producers.

“Like the Carbon Majors analysis that it builds on, this report demonstrates the growing precision with which major carbon producers’ responsibility for climate change and climate impacts can be quantified, allocated and, ultimately, litigated,” said Carroll Muffett, President of the Center for International Environmental Law and member of the CAI Board of Directors.

Mary Christina Wood, Philip H. Knight Professor at Univ. of Oregon School of Law, noted that “behind destructive hurricanes, wildfires, floods, heatwaves, and sea level rise is a terribly damaged climate system. This study connects the dots between the science and the corporations responsible. It is vastly important for laying the legal groundwork to hold corporations accountable before it is too late.”

Our paper:
Ekwurzel, B., J. Boneham, M.W. Dalton, R. Heede, R.J. Mera, M.R. Allen, & P.C. Frumhoff (2017) The rise in global atmospheric CO2, surface temperature, and sea level from emissions traced to major carbon producers, Climatic Change.

Henry Shue’s Springboard Commentary (Professor of politics and international relations, University of Oxford):
Henry Shue (2017) Responsible for What? Carbon Producer CO2 Contributions and the Energy Transition, Climatic Change.

Selected Press Coverage:

Frumhoff, Peter C. & Myles Allen (2017) Big Oil must pay for climate change. Now we can calculate how much, The Guardian, 7 September 2017.

Hulac, Benjamin (2017) Most atmospheric CO2 rise came from 90 companies — study, E&E / ClimateWire, 7 September 2017.

Magill, Bobby (2017) Half of Modern Global Warming Caused by 90 Companies, New Study Concludes, Climate Liability News, 7 September 2017.

Cousins, Farron (2017) New Study Links Greenhouse Gas Emissions Directly to Fossil Fuel Companies, DeSmog Blog, 8 September.

News Update - 11 July 2017

Press Release: CAI, in collaboration with CDP, announces the publication of Carbon Majors Dataset 2017 of operational and product-use emissions attributed to one hundred major oil and gas and coal companies over the period from 1988 to 2015. The Dataset includes a Methodology Report and an Excel workbook of Scope 1 (Operational) and Scope 3 (product-related) emissions attributed to major fossil fuel producers around the world.

Griffin, Paul (2017) The Carbon Majors Database: CDP Carbon Majors Report 2017, 14 pp.

Griffin, Paul, Richard Heede, & Ian van der Vlugt (2017) The Carbon Majors Database: Methodology Report 2017, 9 pp.

Griffin, Paul, Richard Heede, & Ian van der Vlugt (2017) The Carbon Majors Database: 2017 Dataset Release, 6 worksheets.


News Update - 10 March 2017

CAI, in collaboration with CDP (London), announces the publication of operational and product-use emissions attributed to fifty major oil and gas companies over the period from 1988 to 2015.

Press Release: Carbon Majors 2015 update: six companies responsible for one-third of emissions from oil and gas sector since 1988.

The Climate Accountability Institute and CDP jointly announce the publication of the Carbon Majors Dataset. The Dataset points to the central role of the oil and gas sector in global carbon dioxide emissions and highlights the risks and opportunities of the industry to drive the transition to a low-carbon economy. The Dataset updates the Carbon Majors database of operational and product-use emissions attributed to the largest fifty investor and state-owned oil and gas companies from 1988 to 2015. This updates the original work by Richard Heede (2014) Tracing anthropogenic CO2 and methane emissions to fossil fuel and cement producers 1854-2010, Climatic Change, vol. 122(1):229-241; URL:

The Carbon Majors Database: Dataset 1.0 Methodology and Results: Report

The Carbon Majors Database: Dataset 1.0 Methodology and Results: Workbook

News Update - 14 November 2016

Update on the Congressional subpoena & other news, 14 November 2016


The Institute was established by Richard Heede, Naomi Oreskes, and Greg Erwin as a non-profit research and educational organization.

The Climate Accountability Institute engages in research and education on anthropogenic climate change, dangerous interference with the climate system, and the contribution of fossil fuel producers' carbon production to atmospheric carbon dioxide content. This encompasses the science of climate change, the civil and human rights associated with a stable climate regime not threatened by climate-destabilizing emissions of greenhouse gases, and the risks, liabilities, and disclosure requirements regarding past and future emissions of greenhouse gases attributable to primary carbon producers.

Our vision is for a world protected from the social, economic, and environmental damages of climate change.

Our mission is to use climate accountability as a fulcrum for climate stewardship.

Our strategy is to leverage accountability by carbon producers into using their skills, capital, and resources to aid rather than oppose the transition to a low-carbon or zero-carbon energy future.

We are pleased to announce the publication of the Carbon Majors results. For more information please go here. For Publications go here.

"In my view, staying out of the fray is not taking the 'high ground'; it is just passing the buck."
—Steve Schneider Memorial Forum, Boulder, August 2011.

News Update 1 December 2015
The Climate Accountability Institute announces a new paper: Heede and Oreskes (2015) Potential emissions of CO2 and methane from proved reserves of fossil fuels: An alternative analysis, Global Environmental Change.

News Update August 2015
The Climate Accountability Institute announces a new paper by Frumhoff, Heede, & Oreskes: The climate responsibilities of industrial carbon producers.

A "powerful, and gutsy" paper — Denis Hayes, Bullitt Foundation

News Update December 3, 2014
The Climate Accountability Institute is today releasing an update of the
Carbon Majors Project — detailing the emissions traced to the major industrial carbon producers in the oil, natural gas, coal, and cement industries — through the year 2013
Papers and charts available here.

News Update December 15, 2014
The Climate Accountability Institute is today releasing an analysis of
global fossil fuel and cement emissions of CO2 since 1751 that calculates
the proportion emitted since 1988 ‹ when the evidence and risks of
human-caused warming first became widely known.
Papers and charts available here.


Banner image is of Cyclone Catarina in the southern hemisphere that later hit the Brazilian town of Torres. Catarina was the first hurricane-intensity tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. Photographed from the International Space Station on 26 March 2004.