A 2013 study published by the journal Climatic Change studied historic emissions and compiled a list of leading investor- and state-owned producers of oil, natural gas, coal and cement over a 156-year-period through 2010. Of that total, more than half of the emissions were produced since 1986.
Must Read: Warren Buffett's Top 10 Dividend Stocks
"The carbon major entities possess fossil fuel reserves that will, if produced and emitted, intensify anthropogenic climate change," the study added.
In recent years, many nations have pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions. "However, current climate change is primarily driven by historic emissions and the parties responsible for the dominant sources of historic emissions are not necessarily the same as those responsible for the dominant share of current emissions," the study cautioned.
The report, published in November 2013, uses data through 2010. When reached by TheStreet, study author Richard Heede said he was in the process of updating his data set through 2013, but expected to find little change.
"I would expect a slight variation but not much,” Heede said. “The ranking in the top 20 will be relatively stable."
Here are the top 20 entities that made the list. (Note: TheStreet attempted to contact all 20 on the list. Only a few responded by press time.)
20. Anglo American
From its founding early in the 20th Century to 2010, Anglo American emitted 7.2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. The U.K. mining company accounted for 0.50% of total global emissions for the period studied, between 1751 and 2010, the study found. In 2010, Anglo American emitted 242 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Must Read: 10 Stocks George Soros Is Buying
The company was founded in 1917 by Sir Ernest Oppenheimer. In 1999, Anglo American merged with Minorco of Luxembourg to form Anglo American plc.