Big Oil BP Pledges Net Zero By 2050 But No Plans To End Fossil Fuels

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Multinational oil giant BP has just said they will try to cancel out all its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 – all the while continuing to pump out fossil fuels. In an announcement by new CEO Bernard Looney, the corporation shared they are committing to a net zero goal by 2050, but have laid out close to no concrete policies on how they plan to achieve this without cutting off their dirty energy operations. While the move is a signal that the most polluting industries in the world are feeling the pressure, it falls far behind what is necessary in the midst of the intensifying climate crisis and appears to be yet another greenwashing stunt. 

One of the world’s seven “supermajor” oil and gas companies, BP, has just made the announcement that they will commit to a net zero goal by 2050. While newly appointed leader Bernard Looney – who took over as CEO on February 5 2020– made the sweeping statement about “reimagining energy as we know it” by investing in cleaner energy alternatives, the chief promised no deadline to begin the transition. Moreover, the company will somehow manage to achieve net zero carbon emissions without an immediate end to its most destructive fossil fuel operations

“Trillions of dollars will need to be invested in re-plumbing and rewiring the world’s energy system,” Looney said in a statement, but added that the company would “very likely” still be producing and refining hydrocarbons by 2050

What exactly BP’s “rewiring” involves will apparently be revealed in September, when the company plans to make further announcements about how they will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions while pumping out fossil fuels. For the meantime, Looney alluded to some form of “fundamental restructuring” of their operations to slash their enormous footprint from producing 8.6 million cubic feet of natural gas and 2.64 million barrels of oil every single day. As one of the biggest fossil fuel corporations in the world, BP is one of the major players directly producing air pollution that costs the world US$8 million in economic losses and public health damage per day.

Some have presented BP’s move as groundbreaking. To an extent, it does represent a significant shift in the conversation that big oil companies, much of thanks to the sustained activism, campaigning and reporting that has thrust their polluting operations into the public spotlight. It also marks a difference from the rigid and change-adverse approach that Looney’s predecessor Bob Dudley took in his years as CEO.

However, it is clear that indeed, only the conversation has changed. BP has no plans to reign in their emissions by stopping the most damaging – and most lucrative – projects under their name

This isn’t ambitious or anywhere near enough,” commented Greenpeace UK in response to BP on Twitter. 

If BP’s net zero carbon pledge isn’t yet another greenwashing public relations stunt, then the company is contending that somehow, the scientific consensus is wrong, and that a case can be made for a future with fossil fuels in a world already reeling from increasingly frequent climate disasters as a direct result of the climate emergency. 

To be completely fair, it looks like the world will have to wait until September to make a full judgement. But doubt can be cast on how credible the company’s commitment is to make progress without altogether cancelling their oil and gas projects that underpins the threat to the entire planet and humanity. After all, it’s what makes them money.

Lead image courtesy of BP.

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