By September 20, 2017 Read More →

Big oil cuts pollution, gets greener

Big oil

Among the big oil companies surveyed in the report, BP reduced its pollution the most, cutting emissions by 25.5 per cent.

Big oil faces growing pressure from stockholders

Big oil companies are joining a number of large corporations that are reducing their greenhouse-gas footprints every year, according to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The report says 62 of the world’s 100 largest companies have consistently cut their emissions on an annual basis between 2010 and 2015.  Overall, the 62 companies have reduced their GHG emissions by 12 per cent.

energy eastThe five biggest oil companies, Exxon, Shell, Chevron, BP and Total collectively cut their pollution by an average of 13 per cent between 2010 and 2015, according to the report.

BP cut its pollution the most, dropping it by 25.5 per cent and Exxon, the largest emitter among the listed companies, reduced its pollution by 14 per cent.

“This is a reflection of growing pressure from shareholders, investor groups and civil society for more disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as setting reduction targets,” said Laura McIntyre-Brown, analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the author of the report.

Since 2000, Exxon says it has spent about $8 billion on deploying low-emission energy equipment across its operations.  It also says it is conducting and supporting research on technologies that will lead to further cuts.

According to an official at Shell, the firm is focusing its new energy business on “good projects”, not targets.

Some of the reductions recorded by big oil could be attributed to the crash in oil prices in 2014.  But, despite lower activity in the energy industry, all five major oil companies have enacted climate and efficiency policies along with anti-pollution measures.

Marginal gains in pollution control made by the energy sector can have a significant impact on the environment.  Between 2010 and 2015, big oil collectively saved 56.7 million tons of GHG.  (This excludes Chevron, which began reporting in 2012.)

“If you think about the oil and gas industry, use of oil and gas for combustion creates emissions,” said Rick Wheatley, executive vice president of new growth at Xynteo Ltd., told Bloomberg. “If diversification into other kinds of energy is on the table, then I think it’s absolutely possible to decouple.”

The report points out that while the energy industry cut its emissions, revenue declined by 26 per cent in the same period.  It concludes that while progress has been made, there is no evidence showing that the oil industry could break the link between its revenue and the pollution it emits.

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