Climate change: study pours cold water on oil company’s net claims

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The claims of oil and gas companies that they are reducing their carbon emissions in line with the net zero targets are overestimated, upon further review.

The independent analysis of six large European companies recognizes that they have recently made great strides in terms of CO2.

In April, Shell became the last to announce ambitious plans to reach net zero for operational emissions by 2050.

But the authors say none of the companies are yet aligned with the 1.5 ° C temperature target.

The research was led by the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI), an investor-led group examining how businesses are preparing to transition to a low-carbon economy.

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TPI found that the relationship between the oil and gas industry and climate change has changed rapidly over the past three years.

In Europe, in 2017, no European company had set targets for reducing the carbon intensity of the energy it supplied.

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Today, the six companies assessed by the analysis have goals and plans.

In the past six months, say the authors of the report, the climate ambitions of these companies have increased significantly.

In February, BP’s new chief, Bernard Looney, pledged to reduce net carbon emissions to zero by 2050 or sooner.

Going further than his predecessor, Looney said that BP would reduce the intensity of emissions from its products sold by 50% by the middle of this century.

But according to this new analysis, BP and the Austrian company OMV are the only two oil and gas companies of the six evaluated to have not aligned themselves with the objectives of the Paris agreement on the climate.

” Is it sufficient? No, it is not, “said Adam Matthews, co-chair of the ICTY.

“There are some who have more complete engagements which place them on a trajectory much closer to two degrees than some of the others. “

Shell is ranked as the most ambitious of the companies assessed and is the closest to a 2C warming scenario.

However, despite Shell’s stated commitment to zero net energy activity by 2050, TPI says that “the claim that it will be aligned with a 1.5 ° C climate scenario is not consistent with our analysis “.

The authors say they were unable to assess Shell’s plan to sell only its energy products to companies that have made a net commitment.

“We can’t quantify that yet,” said Adam Matthews.

“But this is potentially very important. And that brings them to a kind of warming engagement of a degree and a half, which equates to net zero. “

According to the authors, a true net zero strategy for the average European oil and gas company would require 100% emission reductions by 2050.

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TPI points out that all of the plans they have evaluated depend, to some extent, on carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology and nature-based solutions such as tree planting.

“There are very important assumptions that need to be explored,” said Adam Matthews.

“And we obviously need a better understanding of the role they will play in implementing these strategies. “

Four of the companies evaluated, Shell, Eni, Total and Repsol, are now aligned with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

However, the authors draw a stark contrast between the actions of these European companies and oil and gas producers in the United States.

None of the dozens of US fossil fuel companies has public disclosure of climate change comparable to Europe, which, according to the TPI, is cause for concern.

“We just don’t know what their intentions are on this issue, which poses greater financial risk to us,” said Adam Matthews.

“We continue to be committed, but the commitments are limited, there comes a time when you must draw very clear conclusions. “

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