BP pledges to reach net zero by 2050

The Dubai company that uses fast food waste for good

The Dubai company that uses fast food waste for good

Last week BP shut down its head office in London after climate change protesters tried to block the entrance.

To deliver on his plans, Looney set up 10 aims, including reaching net zero on carbon in BP's oil and gas production on an absolute basis; a 50% cut in the carbon intensity of products BP sells; installation of methane measurement equipment at all BP's major oil and gas processing sites by 2023; reducing methane intensity of operations by 50%; and increasing investment in non-oil and gas businesses "over time".

Tim Eggar, chairman of the UK's Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), sent shockwaves through the industry on Wednesday (15 January) when he said growing public awareness about climate change was putting the sector's very survival at stake.

What has been made clear is BP's absolute net zero carbon target relating to every barrel it produces, from the well to the petrol station.

He followed up with a post on Instagram: "Simply put, we have got to change".

The world's carbon budget is finite and running out fast; we need a rapid transition to net zero. "It must also be cleaner", he added.

But his fine words fell short of the demands of climate change activists.

BP's targets were more ambitious than Royal Dutch Shell or Total but compared badly to those of Spanish oil firm Repsol.

Greenpeace said BP's plan left many questions unanswered. The ultimate goal is for it to become net zero by 2050 "or sooner", Looney said. Will it be through offsetting?

"How will they reach net zero..." For example, its heft could bring scale to low-carbon projects that might have only dreamed of such investment. "And what are they going to do this decade, when the battle to protect our climate will be won or lost?"

BP wants to reduce its emissions to net zero from what is now around 415 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent a year. "Looney deserves support and credit for starting BP on the journey towards carbon neutrality and policy leadership", said Fred Krupp from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a US-based pressure group.

He said climate change was also a "business opportunity" and added: "Trillions of dollars around the world will be invested in replumbing the global energy industry".

"While there are technologies that could keep us using fossil fuels without releasing the emissions (carbon capture, use and storage), it means BP has set a 30-year clock ticking to change much of what they do, " he said.

So how does an oil and gas company solve a problem like Carbon dioxide pollution? These include gas and low carbon energy, innovation and engineering, and strategy and sustainability.

Rachel Kennerley, climate campaigner at Friends of The Earth, said Mr Looney's announcement was an "inadequate" and "cynical" response to climate breakdown.

Big picture before we dive in: This is arguably the biggest strategic change at BP in its 111-year history, but with big oil 1) at the center of a climate crisis and 2) struggling to appease green-minded investors, generational shifts in ideology feel right for 2020.

The company says its ambition is to slash emissions from its operations and from the burning of the fossil fuels it sells.

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