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BP vows to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2050

Feb 13, 2020
4 min read
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UK's BP has made an ambitious pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 or sooner, and to help the world get to net zero.

BP’s new CEO Bernard Looney made the announcement by setting out 10 aims to achieve this goal.

BP stated its new purpose is reimagining energy for people and the planet.

"The purpose is underpinned by an industry-leading ambition – for BP to become a net zero company by 2050 or sooner, and to help the world get to net zero," BP said.

To deliver all this, BP will fundamentally transform its whole organisation, and maintain its commitment to performing while transforming.

Bernard Looney said:  “The world’s carbon budget is finite and running out fast; we need a rapid transition to net zero. We all want energy that is reliable and affordable, but that is no longer enough. It must also be cleaner. To deliver that, trillions of dollars will need to be invested in replumbing and rewiring the world’s energy system. It will require nothing short of reimagining energy as we know it.

“This will certainly be a challenge, but also a tremendous opportunity. It is clear to me, and to our stakeholders, that for BP to play our part and serve our purpose, we have to change. And we want to change – this is the right thing for the world and for BP.”

Helge Lund, BP’s chairman, commented: “Energy markets are changing, driven by climate change, technology and societal expectations, and 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. As we embark on this ambitious agenda, we will maintain a strong focus on safe, reliable and efficient operations and on delivering the promises we have made to our investors.”

Wood Mackenzie's Luke Parker, vice president, corporate analysis, noted: "Looney is taking the company in a very different direction. It’s an ambition, rather than a target, but the commitment appears to be unconditional. In terms of scale of commitment, this puts BP towards the top of the pack, along with Repsol and Equinor. This will see BP’s business completely transformed over the coming decades: renewables and carbon abatement will get very big, legacy oil and gas will eventually get smaller. But the transition to 2050 is a multi-decade transition - not something that will happen in the next year or so.”

BP’s new ambition to be a net zero company by 2050 or sooner covers the greenhouse gas emissions from its operations worldwide, currently around 55 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MteCO2e) a year, and the carbon in the oil and gas that it produces, equivalent currently to around 360 MteCO2e emissions a year – both on an absolute basis. Taken together, delivery of these aims would equate to a reduction in emissions to net zero from what is currently around 415 MteCO2e a year.  

“This is what we mean by making BP net zero. It directly addresses all the carbon we get out of the ground as well as all the greenhouse gases we emit from our operations. These will be absolute reductions, which is what the world needs. If this were to happen to every barrel of oil and gas produced, the emissions problem for our sector would be solved. But of course, the world is not that simple; the whole energy system has to be transformed and everyone has a contribution to make – producers and sellers of energy, policy makers and everyone who uses energy,” added Looney.

BP also aims to install methane measurement at all of its existing major oil and gas processing sites by 2023 and then reduce the methane intensity of its operations by 50 per cent. 

And over time BP also aims to increase the proportion of investment it makes into non-oil and gas businesses: 

“We expect to invest more in low carbon businesses – and less in oil and gas – over time. The goal is to invest wisely, into businesses where we can add value, develop at scale, and deliver competitive returns,” said Looney.

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