accusations green wash Against major oil companies claiming to be making a transition to clean energy, there are strong grounds, according to the most comprehensive study to date. EURACTIV media partner report, The Guardian.
The research, which was published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, examined the records of ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and BPwhich together have been responsible for more than 10% of global carbon emissions since 1965. The researchers analyzed data over the 12 years to 2020 and concluded that the company’s claims are not in line with their actions, which include increasing exploration rather than decreasing it.
The study found a sharp rise in references to “climate”, “low carbon” and “transition” in annual reports in recent years, particularly for Shell and BP, and increased pledges to act on strategies. But concrete actions were scarce, and the researchers said: “The financial analysis reveals continued reliance on the business model Fossil fuels Combined with meager and ambiguous spending on clean energy.”
Several previous studies have already shown that they exist More oil and gas reserves And More production planned which can be burned while keeping the temperature below the internationally agreed temperature target of 1.5°C. In May 2021, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said there could be No new development of fossil fuels If the world will reach net zero by 2050.
Oil companies under Increased pressure from investors to align their actions with climate goals. But their plans encountered doubts, prompting the researchers to conduct the new research, which they said was objective and comprehensive.
“Until there is very tangible progress, we have every reason to be very skeptical about claims that we are moving in the green direction,” said Professor Gregory Trencher of Kyoto University, Japan, who worked with Mie Lee and Josen Asuka at Tohoku University.
“If they are moving away from fossil fuels, we would expect to see, for example, a decrease in exploration activity, fossil fuel production, sales and profits from fossil fuels,” he said. “But if anything, we find evidence of the opposite.”
“The latest pledges look very nice and get a lot of people excited, but we have to put them in the context of the company’s business history,” Trencher said. “It’s like a very naughty student telling the teacher ‘I promise I’ll do all my homework next week,’ but the student never worked hard.”
The new study Published in PLOS One magazinefound references to climate-related keywords in annual reports rose sharply from 2009 to 2020. For example, BP’s use of “climate change” rose from 22 to 326 signals.
But in terms of strategy and actions, the researchers found that “companies are making the commitment to transition to clean energy and setting goals rather than concrete action.”
The researchers said Chevron and ExxonMobil were “backward” compared to Shell and BP, but even the actions of major European companies appeared to go against their pledges. For example, BP and Shell have pledged to reduce investments in fossil fuel extraction projects, but both have increased their acreage for new exploration in recent years, the researchers said.
Furthermore, the analysis found that Shell, BP, and Chevron increased fossil fuel production volumes during the study period. None of the companies have directly published data on their investments in clean energy, but the information they provided to the Carbon Disclosure Project suggests average levels drop from 0.2% by ExxonMobil to 2.3% by BP of annual capital expenditure (capex). A separate analysis by the International Energy Agency indicates this The investment in clean energy by oil and gas companies about 1% capital expenditures in 2020.
“Until actions and investment behavior align with rhetoric, accusations of going green appear well-founded,” the researchers said.
An ExxonMobil spokesperson said: “Transitioning to a lower emissions future requires multiple solutions that can be implemented at scale. We plan to play a leading role in the energy transition, while retaining investment flexibility across a range of evolving opportunities, including for example carbon capture, hydrogen and biofuels. to maximize shareholder returns.
A Chevron spokesperson said: “We focus on lowering the carbon intensity of our operations and seek to grow the low carbon business alongside our traditional lines of business. We are planning a $10 billion lower carbon investment by 2028.”
A Shell spokesperson said: “Shell’s goal is to become a zero-emissions energy company by 2050, in line with society. Our short, medium and long-term intensity and our absolute goals align with the more ambitious 1.5C target of the Paris Agreement. We were also the first energy company to present its strategy Power Transition is given to shareholders to vote, ensuring strong endorsement.”
A BP spokesperson said: “In 2020, BP outlined our new zero-sum ambition, goals and strategy, and in 2021 we completed the largest company transformation in our history to deliver on these goals. As this paper looks back historically over 2009-2020, we do not believe it will take These developments and our progress are fully taken into account.”
Trencher dismissed the accusation that the analysis was out of date: “We included documents that were published during 2021, so the so-called data gap is only six months old and we find no evidence of any new measures that would change any of our findings” .
“Unfortunately, the way energy markets are regulated around the world, fossil fuels still have a lot to do with it [regulatory and tax] The advantages and renewable energy sources are still deprived,” he said.
This article was First published in The Guardian environment It is reproduced here with kind permission.