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Multinational oil giant BP is spending money from its “low carbon transition” fund on companies that are developing novel ways to find and use fossil fuels, according to an investigation by Greenpeace U.K.’s journalism team Unearthed. The findings casts even greater doubt on the authenticity of BP’s already dubious claims about greening its operations.
An inquiry by Unearthed has revealed that BP, one of the world’s seven “supermajor” oil and gas companies, is funneling millions of dollars from its venture capital unit into companies that will increase the supply and demand for dirty energy. The venture capital unit is supposed to help transition BP into a low carbon economy, as a part of the firm’s pledge earlier this year to achieve net zero by 2050.
While a portion of the investments made by the fund include clean energy technology projects, substantial investments were also made into companies such as Belmont Technology and Beyond Limits that are using artificial intelligence (AI) to help drill for oil, a developer for a private jet app, and a biotech firm called Calysta using BP-produced methane to make animal and fish feed.
These findings were obtained by journalists from Unearthed who used the market data platform CB Insights to analyse the fund’s portfolio. BP’s latest investment of this kind, which further drives its contribution to climate change rather than alleviating it, was made as recently as April.
Of the available data that has been made public where BP is the sole investor, the oil giant spent at least US$95 million on such companies that are finding, extracting or using fossil fuels. Comparatively, as the only investor, BP only made US$31.3 million into clean energy technologies and US$13.9 million into carbon neutral companies.
Oil majors have had 30 years to align their business plans with a liveable climate. Instead of doing so, they’re using paper-thin claims of climate action that don’t stand up to scrutiny – this is just the newest in a long line of examples.Bronwen Tucker, Research Analyst at Oil Change International
Earlier this year in February, BP made the promise to cancel out all its carbon emissions by 2050. Critics had already pointed out at the time that the firm stopped short of committing to step away from fossil fuels altogether, and laid out close to no concrete policies on how they plan to achieve net zero without doing so.
When questioned by the Unearthed team, a BP spokesperson responded by saying that these tech companies are in fact helping to accelerate innovation in the energy sector as they begin to “make it cleaner and more efficient”.
Similar instances of outrageous greenwashing are present in a number of other oil giants, including Shell and Chevron, who also have invested in dirty energy projects through their venture capital units.
What’s clear from these findings is that for the fossil fuel industry – the world’s most polluting industry driving the climate and health crisis – only the conversation has changed, and little has been done to reign in their emissions, which is crucial if we are to avert what scientists have said amounts to what could be the end of humanity altogether.
“Oil majors have had 30 years to align their business plans with a liveable climate. Instead of doing so, they’re using paper-thin claims of climate action that don’t stand up to scrutiny – this is just the newest in a long line of examples,” Bronwen Tucker, research analyst at Oil Change International, told Unearthed.
Lead image courtesy of Christopher Furlong / Getty Images.