July 16, 2020 Read More →

Major oil companies using “net-zero” pledges to mislead public, investors

Inside Climate News: 

Bernard Looney, BP’s new chief executive, stood behind the podium in a London hotel in February and announced that the company would dramatically shift the way it did business.

Framed by a multi-hued green background, Looney described a transformation of BP’s structure and operations that would steer the oil giant to spend more on clean energy and less on fossil fuels. By 2050, he said, BP would achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, joining a growing list of governments and corporations committed to tackling climate change. 

Much of the world saw BP as the problem, Looney said. Now it would become part of the solution.

“We have got to change, and change profoundly,” he told a room full of investors and journalists, “because the world is changing fast, and so are society’s expectations of us. But it is more than having to change. We want to change.” 

The executives of big oil companies like to say they must respond to the demands of the global energy market. But that view ignores the role that the companies play in shaping that market through their monumental investments, said Tim Buckley, an analyst with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a clean energy think tank.

“Those top five companies are going to determine the success of the Paris Agreement,” Buckley said, noting that, taken together, their planned spending on oil and gas over a decade is close to $1 trillion. If the companies were to reallocate that and direct even a much smaller amount to renewable energy, he said, it would shift the landscape.

“All of a sudden instead of spending $1 trillion over here, you’re actually spending $200 billion or $300 billion on the solution,” Buckley said. “I would say a $1.2 trillion dollar shift is huge for the world.” 

[Nicholas Kusnetz]

More: What Does Net Zero Emissions Mean for Big Oil? Not What You’d Think 

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