LONDON – Energy producer BP said Wednesday it wants to eliminate or offset all carbon emissions from its operations and the oil and gas it sells to customers by 2050, an ambitious target born out of pressure to help combat climate change and keep making money.
London-based BP's goals include becoming a net zero emitter in its own production of energy but also to reduce the carbon dioxide created by its customers as they use that energy – the bulk of emissions from the industry. Doing so would require not only a shift to cleaner energy sources but also coming up with new technologies to offset emissions or extract CO2 from the atmosphere.
As such, BP's announcement was less of a detailed restructuring plan and more of a statement of intent from a company that is trying, like the wider energy industry, to ensure its long-term viability as the world decreases its reliance on fossil fuels in an effort to fight climate change.
“The world's carbon budget is finite and running out fast; we need a rapid transition to net zero,'' CEO Bernard Looney said in a statement. “We all want energy that is reliable and affordable, but that is no longer enough. It must also be cleaner.''
In a presentation in London to climate scientists, investors and journalists, Looney acknowledged that targets and more specifics would follow. He compared the announcements, which come only two weeks into his tenure as CEO, as being like setting the destination in a GPS.
“We're starting with a destination,”' he said. “The details will come.''
Other energy companies have expressed similar ambitions as public awareness of climate change – and the energy industry's role in emitting CO2 – has grown.
Total of France said they were integrating climate into their strategy in 2016; Royal Dutch Shell outlined a “net carbon footprint ambition'' to halve emissions by 2050 while Repsol of Spain also made a similar net zero pledge to that of BP, David Elmes, an energy expert at Warwick Business School.
Elmes said BP's announcement was significant in that it required deep change to the company's business strategy rather than just reducing emissions from its current operations.