Carbon pollution from Australia’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ more than half the Pacific Islands’ emissions, new report reveals

02.02.23 By
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A new report by the Climate Council has found that between 2016 and 2021, just 12 fossil fuel corporations spewed out carbon pollution equivalent to more than 50% of total Pacific Islands emissions over the same period. 

The report profiles Australia’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ – the biggest fossil fuel polluters regulated by the Safeguard Mechanism. Together, these corporations have pumped out more than 287 million tonnes of dangerous, climate-warming pollution since 2016. 

Chevron Australia, Woodside Energy, Anglo American, Santos, BHP, Glencore Coal, Inpex, Shell Australia, ConocoPhillips, South32, Esso Australia and Centennial Coal have earned themselves a place on Climate Council’s Dirty Dozen list of Australia’s filthiest fossil fuel polluters. 

The Australian Government is planning to reform the Safeguard Mechanism, which could force the Dirty Dozen to clean up its act if done right. However, the draft settings released by the government in January need to be significantly strengthened to ensure these fossil fuel giants can’t keep polluting as usual, or open new coal and gas projects that will add more fuel to the fire of climate change. 

“Australians are suffering under dangerous climate change, and want more to be done to reduce this harm. Our greenhouse gas emissions need to start plummeting if we are to protect our way of life. The Dirty Dozen have had a free pass to pollute for far too long – it’s well past time they pulled their weight in our shared national effort to cut emissions,” Dr Jennifer Rayner, Head of Advocacy at Climate Council said.

“Australia won’t be able to meet our legislated emissions reduction targets and make real progress to tackle harmful climate change if we don’t genuinely cut emissions. To do that we should ensure the Dirty Dozen can’t buy carbon offsets to keep on polluting as usual. Nor can we allow any new coal or gas projects. 

“If we get the Safeguard Mechanism reform right, it can deliver the biggest cuts to industrial emissions ever seen in Australia,” Dr Rayner said.    

Tim Buckley, Director of independent think tank Climate Energy Finance, said The Dirty Dozen report identified the worst corporate offenders for doing too little, or for moving too slowly to address harmful climate change.

“Credible and ambitious Safeguard Mechanism reform is critical to driving sustained, rapid reductions in scope 1 emissions. It is a central part of the wider Albanese Government’s climate and energy agenda so it’s essential we get this right,” Mr Buckley said.

“It is important to call out the worst contributors to industrial pollution and make sure they start cleaning up their acts. The Dirty Dozen is a timely report, spotlighting the urgent need for sustained emissions reduction action at speed, and identifying the laggards.

“These dozen super-polluters must make tangible, deep progress on reducing emissions and governments and investors alike must hold them accountable for this,” Tim Buckley said.

For interviews please contact Elle McDonald on 0455 238 875. 

The Climate Council is Australia’s leading community-funded climate change communications organisation. It was founded through community donations in 2013, immediately after the then-Abbott Government dismantled the Climate Commission. We provide authoritative, expert and evidence-based advice on climate change to journalists, policymakers, and the wider Australian community. For further information, go to: Or follow us on social media: and