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Oil: what the global giants are promising over climate change

Published on February 12, 2020

Energy firm BP’s pledge on Wednesday to achieve “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050 is among the most ambitious in an industry often criticised for its inaction over climate change.

Here are the commitments made so far by the world’s major oil companies:

– BP –

The British company says it is aiming to be a net zero company in its global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner.

That will cover output from its operations worldwide, and includes carbon in the oil and gas that it produces.

The company’s new CEO Bernard Looney said its traditional oil and gas production would “decline gradually over time”, while cleaner energy output would increase.

It will seek to ensure that the production of oil and gas does not emit carbon, while it will also start measuring methane emissions at all its gas processing facilities by 2023.

But green campaigners promptly slammed BP over the lack of detail about how it would achieve its targets.

– Royal Dutch Shell –

The Anglo-Dutch conglomerate, a major competitor of BP, is aiming to halve its carbon footprint by 2050, while ensuring that it can prosper in the green energy transition.

It plans to invest up to $3 billion per year between 2021 and 2025 — or around 10 percent of its total investments — in clean energy like electricity, wind, solar, biofuels, hydrogen.

– Total –

The French group has highlighted its development of gas, low carbon electricity — with investment in renewables, in particular — and wants to encourage carbon sinks, such as forests, as well as carbon capture schemes.

It also wants to limit emissions from its own operations, particularly methane.

However, its CEO Patrick Pouyanne thinks that the energy transition will be gradual.

“Fossil fuels represent 90 percent of the global energy mix today,” he said recently.

“We are not going to make all this go away with a magic wand.”

– Exxonmobil –

The US energy giant has largely pursued a business as usual approach despite the calls for action around climate change.

But it is aggressively promoting its investments in carbon capture technology, through a partnership with FuelCell Energy and a number of university connections.

ExxonMobil also announced in October 2018 that it will spend $1 million over two years to lobby for a carbon tax in the United States.

– Chevron –

Like its American competitor, the California-headquartered company is lagging behind on climate action.

It has not set a specific target for its carbon footprint, arguing it has taken “concrete steps” to lower its greenhouse gas emissions.

It also notes it is a major investor in technology to capture CO2 and committed $100 million to the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI), which has a more than $1 billion fund to invest in green technologies in the sector.

– ENI –

In October 2019 Claudio Descalzi, the boss of the Italian hydrocarbon group, predicted that companies only operating in the oil and gas sector had no future “in the medium and long term”.

Eni has vowed to increase its diversification into renewable energies to avoid that fate.

Descalzi stressed that the group would invest, over the next three years, 1 billion euros ($1.09 billin) in research and development, and 3 billion in “decarbonisation” projects.

– Equinor –

The Norwegian oil giant, 67 percent owned by the state, unveiled its climate impact targets earlier this month.

It aims for overall carbon neutrality by 2030, reducing emissions that cause global warming by half by 2050, and a 10-fold increase in renewable energy capacity by 2026.