BP sets net zero carbon targets for 2050 with a plan to invest more in low-carbon businesses. BP’s new chief executive Bernard Looney has set an ambitious goal to shrink the carbon footprint of the oil firm to net-zero by 2050 by reducing more greenhouse gas emissions every year compared to what produced by the whole of the UK.
This month, Bernard Looney, who replaced Bob Dudley as chief executive, said that BP needed to change, and it’s clear. According to him, BP’s objective would be to become a net-zero company by 2050 or sooner by managing “all the carbon we get out of the ground as well as all the greenhouse gases we emit from our operations.”
Following the other large oil firms, BP is setting a target to reduce its contribution to the climate crisis, and that will require this oil and gas business to remove 400m and more carbon emissions a year.
Looney expects BP will “invest more in low-carbon businesses – and less in oil and gas – over time,” however, the details of how BP plans to meet the goals will not be disclosed until an investor meeting to be held in September.
“Today is about a vision, a direction of travel,” he told an audience of investors and industry analysts. “I appreciate you want to see more than a vision. We don’t have that for you today, but we will in September. The direction is set. We are heading to net zero. There is no turning back.”
BP would continue producing oil and gas in 2050, the former head of BP’s oil production business said, but less than what it produces now. Around 360m tonnes of greenhouse emissions created from the oil and gas production every year will require BP to cut or offset through measures such as tree-planting, and carbon capture technologies under its net-zero strategy.
Looney assured investors, saying that the company would safeguard the $8bn, the amount paid out in shareholder dividends each year by becoming “a force for good as well as a provider of competitive returns.”
Helge Lund, the chairman, said: “The board supports Bernard and his new leadership team’s ambition for BP. Aiming for net-zero is not only the right thing for BP, it is the right thing for our shareholders and for society more broadly.”
This green goal of BP have divided the opinion of environmental campaigners. Some of them welcomed the company’s ambition, while others criticized the absence of a clear plan of action.
Murray Worthy, a senior campaigner at Global Witness, said BP’s net-zero pledge “looks like an attempt to grab some positive headlines by a new CEO but with little of substance to show how it will achieve these grand claims.
“Saying that they will invest more in low-carbon tech and less in oil and gas ‘over time’ is not a credible plan for reaching net zero.”
All the organisations that collaborated with BP’s executives to help tackle the climate crisis, including shareholder pressure group Climate Action 100+, green investor body Follow This, the Church of England Commissioners and the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), welcomed the ambitions.
Stephanie Pfeifer, a member of Climate Action 100+ and the chief executive of the IIGCC, said investors would look forward to progress made by BP. It includes how it would invest in non-oil and gas businesses more, ensuring that its lobbying activity supports the delivery of the Paris agreement.
The company planned to grow its oil and gas production by about a fifth between 2018 and 2030, even though the world would be on track for catastrophic global heating and a runaway climate crisis for the increase in fossil fuel production, an investigation by the Guardian last year revealed.
“I know many may doubt our intentions, based on seeming inconsistencies between what we say and what we do. I get that,” Looney said. “We are taking steps to more firmly and visibly align our intentions with our actions and become much more transparent.”
BP’s role in lobbying would be more active for policies that would encourage action on the climate crisis and would reduce its corporate reputational sponsorship cost while redirecting the funds towards the promotion of climate action.
Looney’s plan for a greener BP is also one of the most radical corporate overhauls for the company in decades.
The traditional distinction between upstream, which produces oil and gas, and downstream, which refines the fossil fuels to sell petroleum products of BP, will be replaced. On the other hand, four new business areas: production and operations, customers and products, gas and low-carbon energy, and innovation and engineering will emerge.
“We’ll still be an energy company but a different kind of energy company,” Looney said.