LONDON – In response to BP’s net zero announcement that it will cut oil and gas production by 40% by 2030, Mel Evans, senior climate campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said:
“BP has woken up to the immediate need to cut carbon emissions this decade. Slashing oil and gas production and investing in renewable energy is what Shell and the rest of the oil industry needs to do for the world to stand a chance of meeting our global climate targets. BP must go further, and needs to account for or ditch its share in Russian oil company, Rosneft. But this is a necessary and encouraging start.”
Full Greenpeace response to BP’s announcement
John Sauven, executive director, Greenpeace UK
Since taking over as chief executive in February, Bernard Looney has been promising a bold new climate strategy for BP, to come in mid September.
When Mr Looney started, the oil industry had already been living on borrowed time, because the climate crisis would require a dramatic shift from climate wrecking fossil fuels to clean renewable energy. In February this year BP, along with many other companies, had made vague commitments to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This would be too late to tackle the climate emergency when the real objective has to be alignment with the Paris Agreement, to keep global warming within 1.5°C.
We all know what happened next – the pandemic hit, and a knock-on effect was that oil demand plummeted as the world stopped flying and driving under lockdown conditions. COVID-19 left oil companies with no choice but to catch up with our climate emergency.
Today – more than a month earlier than expected – BP has announced plans to slash oil and gas production by 2030 and to invest around a third of its capital expenditure in renewable energy. For environmental campaigners, it’s simultaneously as if Christmas has come early, while at the same time – decades too late.
So what does BP’s new announcement mean? The good news is that BP will actually produce less oil and gas, and they’re making that change this decade. That is vital. Up to this point, many companies, from fossil fuel majors to the aviation industry have focused on offsetting – which all too often is not even damage limitation.
We should note though, that BP is still backing hydrogen made from methane, a fossil fuel, instead of the greener option of making it from water and renewable power. It is putting faith in carbon capture and storage, as other companies are doing, which is at best optimistic because this technology is not zero emissions, is not proven, and does not exist anywhere near the scale that’s required. Its investment in biofuels should be scrapped because so far these have boosted palm oil use and hence deforestation, in particular in Indonesia.
But an oil company pledging to make less oil is exactly what we urgently need. All eyes will now be on Shell – and the rest of the oil industry – to play catch-up, and to do it quickly.
The big Russian elephant in the room is Rosneft. BP has a 20% stake in Russia’s national oil company, and Putin will not be announcing a climate plan anytime soon. This stake makes up a huge chunk of BP’s oil and gas production, so to achieve anything near what our climate needs BP will need to ditch its Rosneft stake – something that could dent shareholder dividends significantly.
All in all this is a credible and encouraging start from BP. The UK government must now urgently create a landscape where companies are incentivised to stop extracting and selling fossil fuels, and workers across the oil and gas industry are supported to build on their skills and transition into secure and sustainable green jobs. The most obvious starting point to reduce oil consumption is to bring forward the phase-out of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans to 2030.
BP has woken up to the fact that the next decade will be crucial to survival. For other oil companies like Shell this should be a rude awakening.